Social Media

Why Your Brand Must Tell A Compelling Story

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We think in story. It’s hardwired in our brain. It’s how we make strategic sense of the otherwise overwhelming world around us. – Lisa Cron, Wired for Story 

It’s no longer enough to build a great looking web site that gets traffic.  Those are just the bare essentials and won’t take you very far.  In a world where we are inundated with inputs, your business and your brand must tell a compelling story. As human beings we’re wired for story.

Changing The Story on my About Page 

A few days ago I came across an amazing article by Erika Napoletano about the 3 copywriting mistakes that are holding your business back.  When I looked  at it, I realized I was making all of those mistakes. So I decided to make some changes.

Here is the first version of my bio: 

BLOGCAST FM founder/host Srinivas Rao has been a 2-time speaker at Blogworld Expo and was listed on Problogger’s annual list of 40 Bloggers to Watch in 2011. He’s a regular contributor to the adage 150 blog {GROW} and his work has been featured on Social Mouths, Write to Done, Dumb Little Man, Twitip, Kikolani, and many other social media and personal development blogs. 

As you can see it was written in third person, and it’s just a list of my accolades. It’s not very relatable. There’s no sense of anticipation.

Below is the second version of my bio: 

My name is Srinivas Rao and I’m a connector, instigator and corporate misfit who is allergic to cubicles and office buildings. I’m the guy you’ll hear shouting “let’s shift gears” in every episode of BlogcastFM. In other words I’m the host of the show.  I’ve never been particularly good at having a  ”real” job, been fired more than a handful of times, and if I wasn’t, I usually quit before I was going to be fired. It seems I was meant to set the world on fire instead. In April 2009 I graduated from business school, was completely broke, and realized I was unemployable. My world basically fell apart.  So I did what anybody in that situation would do. I moved back to my parents house and started a blog.  That was just the beginning of taking the scenic route through life.

 

It might seem like career suicide, but the curse of sounding professional has caused many  brands to linger in obscurity.  People who come to your web site want to connect with  human beings and a story. Ever since I decided to own the label of “corporate misfit” my readers have connected to me in a way that they never have before. It’s made me much more relatable and given people and opportunity to see that there is a real person behind the words on the screen.

 

What are Your War Stories?

You have plenty of stories. Some of them paint you in a perfect light, and others give the world the most authentic version of who you are. Conventional wisdom  would tell us not to share certain things, but conventional wisdom produces conventional results. If you want a voice that people recognize from a mile away , then your brand must be wired for story because human beings are. You must share the stories that take your readers on a journey where they have an opportunity to narrow the gap between what is and what could be.    People are also going to want to know what you stand for?  They’ll want to know what your worldview is because that’s exactly what’s going to cause them to feel like your brand says “You’re one of us.” Your worldview matters

Distinctiveness is Key because Being Original is Almost Impossible

There are thousands of blogs about online marketing, SEO, fitness, and personal development. So why do certain ones succeed and why do other ones fail?  The ones that succeed are distinctive.  They bring their only competitive edge (personality) into every single thing they do.  Many online personalities I know have stories of doing really well in a corporate America and eventually being disillusioned with their work. So instead of telling that story, I owned the label of corporate misfit and started to tell my story through the lens of the guy who failed miserably in corporate America. It was the opportunity to be distinctive.  Rather than searching for the opportunity to do something truly original, look for the opportunity to be distinctive. 

Does your brand create an epic audience experience?

I’ve been digging in to the work of Erik Wahl, a graffiti artist who wrote a best selling business book.  One of the things that really stood out from a conversation I had with him was when he said  “Live music has engaged participants , keynote speaking has passive consumers.”  The work he does explores how to bridge this gap. These days business is a blend of performance, entertainment and art.  What you do is not just a product or service. It’s an experience.

 

  • Companies like Trunk Club and Zappos don’t just provide shoes and clothes. They provide an experience.
  • My friend Sarah  Steenland has a unique way of greeting her new followers on twitter. She draws a welcome cartoon for each one. But the cartoons don’t stop there. Talk about an epic experience for your followers.

Do you entertain or just inform? Are you creating an epic audience experience with your story?

If you’re brand is not telling a compelling story, it’s going to be impossible to stand out amongst the noise.  Don’t be afraid to abandon the conventional wisdom and explore the edges of your personal narrative. You might just end up with a tribe of fanatics.

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Srinivas Rao is the host and cofounder of BlogcastFM where he's interviewed over 300 bloggers, authors, and entrepreneurs. Pick up his free guide on How to Repurpose Content for Profit and Fame.

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16 thoughts on “Why Your Brand Must Tell A Compelling Story

  1. I totally resonate with this post and Srinivas Rao. I have completely done the same thing and I will definitely re-work my “about us” page today. Great post… it definitely deserves a share! Thanks.

  2. Thanks for your words of wisdom. I’m an indie musician who is just learning to navigate the vast social ocean before me. Your insights are both practical and inspirational. Thank you! ;)

  3. Thanks for the shout-out Srini. It’s so important to develop personal brands that are accessible. Great article as always!

  4. This read was a great reminder of concepts I’m aware of, years ago a sales manager who taught me everything about ‘talk story’ (selling through stories) greatly improved my success rate as well as others through the art of being genuinely yourself and engaging clients through highly relevant storytelling. I take notice today, of the importance of following through in web content, be it written or visual.

    1. These days stories matter more than ever. In a world with this much noise, stories are what stick. They are what tug at our heartstrings and turn fans into fanatics.

  5. Well written Srinivas and I agree on the stance you’ve taken with the latter version of your author bio. My question then is, why haven’t you followed suit with your SEJ author bio (which is in third person)?

  6. Srinivas,

    The point you make regarding the About Page could not have been more spot on. Far too many of us are forgoing the chance to begin a meaningful interaction between our brands and visitors to our sites by not crafting a compelling message here.

    This low-hanging fruit should be a priority for forming strong, binding ties with prospects and clients.

    RS

    1. Thanks Ronell. I knew that making that change to my about page was going to be a bit of a risk. But it’s only by exploring uncharted territory we discover new things.

  7. This is quite a brilliant piece of writing and instigates a lot of thought. I suppose the reason people feel closer to you because of the second bio, is not just because you’re telling your story but because you’re also being honest to a tee. Let’s face it, not many people these days would highlight any of their bad traits, misadventures or just bad things about them in general yet you’ve embraced this and used it in your own way!

    1. Thomas,

      That’s spot on. I’ve found the more honest I am about some of my “bad traits”, the more people can relate to me. When you put yourself on a pedestal you hurt the possibility of a deep connection that could occur.

  8. Hi,

    Brilliant post, Thanks for sharing this.I agree with your second version of author bio.I also do the same thing.Its true that brand name is very necessary for success.