How to Become a People‑powered Brand

Learn how your authentic story can grow your business.

Defining your brand story is an exciting and rewarding process. Connecting the past and present of your business can give you a feeling of clarity about your purpose--and act as a blueprint for the future.

From clarity comes confidence. Through the inevitable ups and downs of running a business, a solid narrative will serve as a compass to give you direction in challenging times. Defining your story can help drive even very specific decisions, like what content to feature on your website, social accounts, emails, and ads.

The good news is that even if you don’t have a large marketing budget, the power of the brand story is wonderfully democratic. In fact, small businesses have an advantage over larger businesses because they are still very much in touch with the original reasons why they started the business.

It is important to get the most out of each of your brand touchpoints. Telling your authentic story through these touchpoints will help you connect with people and strengthen your brand in the eyes of customers.

What is a people-powered brand?

A people-powered brand is one that is driven by its brand story.

Many small businesses come into existence because the founder saw an opportunity to add value to a particular market. Perhaps they were personally on the lookout for a product or service and couldn’t find it, or simply spotted a particular demand and found a way to meet that need. Whatever the motivation for starting the business, a connection was made in the mind of the founder.

Why did you make that connection? What life events put you in the right position to make the connection? These are the beginnings of your brand story.

Take JO&SO. The founders, sisters Joana and Sofia, love traveling together and staying in independently-owned hotels around the world. They discovered many boutique hotels in their home country of Portugal that were under the radars of other travelers. Sofia, a web designer and photographer, had the skills to create a site and document their visits and interviews with the hotel owners. Joana’s background in digital marketing helped to turn the site into a business. Their passion for traveling and desire to give independently-owned hotels more publicity form their authentic story.

Define your story

Every business has an origin story.There is often much more depth and meaning the reason for starting it than simply spotting a gap in the market. It’s important to delve into why you were able to spot a gap in the first place. What unique perspective did you have to see something that others did not? By capturing and sharing that story, you have a way of communicating your unique value in an engaging way.

Many businesses include an “About Us or “Our Story” section somewhere on their website. As customers crave more meaning and connection with the products and services they seek, the brand story will become more important and move to the front and center of communications.

Identify the key story points of how and why your business came into existence. You can skip the parts which don’t feel truly significant on your journey, but be careful not to miss any smaller moments which may have had a big impact.

It’s easy to spot a constructed origin story. That’s why remaining truthful is essential. One of the biggest branding myths is that you have to put up a professional front to appear established and credible. Telling a story that’s authentic is not only easier, but will help potential customers, employees, partners, and investors connect to your message.

Communicate your story effectively

Once you have noted down the key points in your story, think about how you can articulate the main essence of your story in a few words or a short sentence. Try to phrase this statement so the reader can relate to it. When you articulate your brand story in universal terms, anyone who comes across it can understand the foundation of your business.

There’s a difference between describing what you do as a business and an articulation of your brand story. Fay Sebel is a carpenter who makes furniture out of salvaged wood. Her brand story is summarized by her tagline, “Carve your own way.” It refers to her hand-carved furniture without explicitly telling what she does. It also serves as an intriguing pointer into her personal story and the people she admires—resourceful women who created their own path in life. There are multiple ways Fay brings that statement to life: hosting workshops for aspiring makers, writing and speaking about her own story, and creating social posts about her furniture-making techniques.

Asign that you have come up with a good summary of your brand story is that you can easily see ways of bringing the statement to life in different brand touchpoints. The statement can guide decision like what content to feature on your landing page, the headline of an ad, the main content of a press release, or an interview that you may give. It feels like a solid narrative because it can be clearly understood.

Make your story your strength

Your brand is simply how your business is perceived by someone who has experienced it in some way. If your brand story is based on your authentic experiences, you will be able to expand it in a natural, organic way in every available touchpoint. Potential customers will connect to your business on an emotional level.

Put simply, one of the biggest assets you have as a small business is your story.

Written by Mo Saha for Mailchimp. Mo is a branding expert for small businesses.