Businesses have repeatedly developed mission statements and brand stories, offering potential customers or partners an explanation of why they exist. These manifestos affirm an organization's core beliefs and values—solidifying its long-term vision and mission.
As a professional, it is essential to instill the same mindset. Think of yourself as a "business" and how you can positively portray that to potential customers, business partners, and more. One of the easiest ways to identify your core strengths, mission, and goals is to create an authentic personal brand story.
In many cases, your personal brand story is a comprehensive description with a clear vision—whether short-term or long-term—focusing on the things that matter to you the most. Similar to vision-casting or goal-setting, defining your personal brand story is common among high-achievers in all fields. If you're ready to get started, here's how to write an authentic personal brand story and make an impact now.
A personal brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings created by you, your brand, or your business. It defines a fundamental purpose and identifies beliefs, personal objectives, and outlines a set of goals (short-term and long-term) that embody those values.
Essentially, an authentic personal brand story is most often a short statement identifying—usually a few sentences—the direction intended for your “brand”.
Having an authentic personal brand story helps focus on short-term and long-term goals—acting as a compass. It's also a way to identify meaningful purpose. With an authentic personal brand story, you can feel more confident and even positively impact your future.
If you experience imposter syndrome, you can look to your personal brand story to reconnect you with your deeper purpose and motivations.
Here are four steps to write an authentic personal brand story true to your values, beliefs, and supportive of your goals.
Focus on goals that express your values and beliefs. This requires some introspection. Don't get caught up focusing on goals that other people would like you to do. Make sure your goals are authentic and give you a sense of meaning or purpose. Use specific language when writing down your goals. Aim to create plans that push you outside of your comfort zone, but keep you grounded, and aren’t unrealistic.
To create value-guided goals, you'll need to listen, look, and leverage. Listen to others around you—do they frequently point out an area you could develop? Look to your competition to see what they're doing—are there marketplace trends you can take advantage of? Lastly, leverage these things to figure out who you are and the values you stand for.
Once you've figured out self-identification, you must stay steadfast and remain consistent—which can only happen with a clear vision. Jot down some of the things that are most important to you. Think about your passions. What are some of the values that you hold? How about beliefs?
Brainstorm what inspires you—think about your innate strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and goals. What determines your success in your life, and how do you measure it? What are the things you struggle with?
Consider areas of your life like:
A good story is worthless unless there is an audience to read (or listen) to it. Remember the values you identified in step two? Now is the time to put them into action! Your personal brand story will most likely resonate with an audience that has similar values or beliefs.
To take it a step further, indicate how you can benefit them. For example, you are passionate about social injustice and have a background in media relations. Your audience may also be passionate about social injustice (common beliefs) or individuals who believe in equality (common value).
No matter what, make sure your message is clear, easy to understand, and written concisely—avoid confusing readers with awkward sentences.
Now that you know yourself and your audience, you'll find a personal brand story is most effective when you niche your expertise even further. Your niche exists at the intersection of your strengths, quirks, individuality, and what your audience craves—this is where the strongest brands are formed.
Take “Jake from State Farm” for example. He’s a regular person donning a red shirt and khakis, who was embraced by audiences for nearly a decade and known for answering customer phone calls at 3 a.m.
In 2021, Jake transitioned from customer service agent to State Farm spokes-character—he’s been spotted with Patrick Mahomes and Drake, showing up in the middle of the Super Bowl; he’s even spent time with gamers on Twitch. The “Jake from State Farm” brand story is impeccable storytelling. It’s clear he represents State Farm as a spokesperson, but his personality shines through with his humor, making him relatable and memorable.
Embracing opportunities like this are important to a brand's direction. When writing your own personal brand story, find something that resonates with your audience, and run with it!
Writing an authentic personal brand story is only one small step in the lasting impacts you'll likely have on the world. A personal brand story is just that—personal. It is not meant to be written once and forgotten. Instead, revisit it often, looking to it for guidance and inspiration. You can set a plan to review and renew it annually—more frequently if that suits you.
Heather Cherry is a MarketingCopywriter. Her specialty is authentic storytelling. She self-published,Market Your A$$ Off. She holds a master's degree in ProfessionalWritingfrom ChathamUniversity.