With the posts I did last week, about figuring out what went wrong and what went right last year, I mentioned that coming up with the “success” list might be harder for us. That we may feel too boring, too untalented, too full of self-doubt to come up with the good in our lives.
We often see inspirational quotes about how we’re the only one who can write our story. But sometimes we might look at that quote and think we’re not anyone special, so our story wouldn’t be anything special either.
Bah! I don’t want those negative thoughts to hold any of us back. So let’s talk about how we can discover what makes us special. Why might someone care about our stories?
Branding 101: What Is a Brand?
Yep, this is a branding thing. Sorry. *smile* However this isn’t rocket science. Remember that our brand is simply the impression others have of us.
Or as I’ve discussed before:
“Our brand is how we and our stories relate to others. Or more accurately, it’s how others relate to us and our stories.
Do our stories make our readers feel good or frustrated, enlightened or disappointed? Do our social media updates make us seem friendly or whiny, helpful or self-absorbed? Do our blog posts make us seem informal or formal, amusingly crazy or crazy-crazy?”
Before Christmas, I tweeted a link to a great post by Seth Addison that explored this idea. Here’s my favorite line from his article:
“Your brand is the relationship between you and your customer, not a logo or a product.”
Yes. Or as the keenly missed Maya Angelou said:
“People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did.
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In other words, our brand is how we relate to others, how they relate to us, and/or how we make them feel. Long after the specifics of our words, characters, plots, stories, websites, avatars, color themes, etc. fade, people will remember how we made them feel. That’s the impression that matters.
The Steps of Building a Brand
So if we create a brand, simply by existing, how do we get the brand we want out in the world? How do we make sure that the impression we want others to have of us is the impression they get?
Eh, I’ll be honest. There are no guarantees. We don’t have the power to control others’ perceptions. But we can try to influence their impression. *smile*
Step 1: Decide Who You Want to Be
This step can be a lot like our high school years. But it’s important to make conscious decisions and not just go along with our previous self-concept:
“If we never ask ourselves who we want to be, we’re extremely likely to let our teenage self-image dictate our lives. If we thought of ourselves as a loser in high school, we’re likely to still think of ourselves that way, no matter how much we accomplish—unless we consciously recognize and create our adult self-image. …
As teenagers, we struggled to figure out who we were, but too many times, we let others dictate those labels. As adults, especially in the online world, we have more power and ability to label ourselves, but only if we make these conscious decisions.
Once we know those labels we want for ourselves, we have our brand.”
Step 2: Define Who You Want to Be
If we agree that writing down our goals helps us focus our efforts, we might see how writing down our self-definition can similarly help us focus our sense of our brand. And what is that self-definition called in the context of the writing world?
Our author tagline. *smile*
“Author taglines help make us more memorable and tell potential readers who we are and why we write what we write:
- The Who: What overall image do we want our audience to have of us and our work? What makes us, us? How do we want to relate to our audience?
- The Why: Why should our audience care? What benefits will they get out of paying attention to us? What will they feel or learn?”
Step 3: Be Who You Want to Be
Going back to my post about what a brand is:
“Our brand is the ultimate in “show, don’t tell.” If we want people to think we’re X or our stories are Y, we have to actually be those things.
Our brand isn’t about us, and it’s certainly not about our type fonts or colors. Our brand is about our readers, what they think and feel about us. Who we are—our attitude and our worldview—comes through in everything we do, and once we understand that, we’ll realize that we don’t have to build a brand. The only thing we have to do is show who we are.”
You—and Your Story—Are Special
Great! Maybe we’ve gone through all those steps, but we still don’t feel special. Who are we that others should listen to us?
I’m going to tell you a secret. Remember how people want to relate and feel things—not just see a faceless, emotionless brand? That means that as long as we’re passionate about something and can convey that, people will be interested because we’ve given them an answer to the “So What?” question.
Not sure what that means? Let’s relate this back to the situation where we may have multiple story ideas and need to decide which one to work on. One way we might decide is by figuring which story has a stronger “So What?” factor, which one has:
- a stronger emotional heart,
- a more unique premise, or
- a more memorable, enlightening, or challenging point?
The same concept can apply to us. People will find our passion interesting if there’s a “So What?” factor.
Meaning can come from our stories themselves, but it can also come from us. Our passion, our worldview, our values, our way with words. Our story. Not just the story we write on the pages, but the story we’ve lived, the story we carry in hearts.
That’s what’s unique, that’s what drives our passion that others can relate to. That’s the genesis of the feelings we engender in others and makes us memorable. That’s what creates an impression of us.
Our “So What” Answers
So if we’re not sure what makes us special enough that others should listen to us, think about what creates the story of us. (I can’t remember the source of these great questions, but these give us a start.)
- What do we love to do most—and why?
- How did we make the choice to do what we’re doing?
- If we could share only one thing with the world, what would it be?
- What was our lowest point or greatest challenge?
Those answers will be unique for each of us. Those answers create our story. Those answers prove that we have a special passion to share with the world.
And that’s the answer to “So What?” when we doubt ourselves and whether we have anything worthwhile to say. We do have something unique to share with the world, and the story of us will come through in the passion we share in our work. *smile*
Have you ever doubted whether or not your story mattered? Have you completed all the steps of building a brand? Do you feel like you have passion to share with others? Or that you have something to say with your stories? Do you struggle with any of these aspects of branding?Pin It