I’d like to recommend 2 books that that can help you craft and tell your personal brand building story on your blog or website.

Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works and Patrick Hanlon’s PrimalBranding: Create Zealots for your Brand, Your Company, and your Future offer strong, relevant insights plus dozens of useful examples and tips to help you build and communicate your personal brand.

A visual guide to writing online

If you’re looking for ways to tell your personal branding story online, you’ll like Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works.

For over 5 years, Letting Go of the Words has become the standard of online writing and website design. It’s a book that experienced web designers frequently return to for inspiring examples and fresh perspectives.

Ginny Redish is an internationally known website usability expert who has presented her ideas at web design and user experience conferences around the world.

Letting Go of the Words succeeds because it doesn’t just tell you how to improve your online writing skills, it shows you how to take your writing and your website  to the next level of writing and layout.

Letting Go of the Words contain hundreds of annotated examples showing actual websites that demonstrate the dos and the don’ts of effective online writing and layout. Colored icons and call outs draw your attention to problem areas or examples of best practices at work.

Just by reading the captions and viewing the large-scale illustrations and call outs, you’ll gain a fresh perspective on organizing and editing your writing and simplifying the presentation of your ideas online. Here are some of the ways Letting Go of the Words will help you improve the way you tell your story online:

  • Brevity. You’ll gain a fresh respect for why and how you should edit your message down to the minimum words needed to tell your personal branding story using short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.
  • Eliminating clutter. Website clutter often accumulates slowly, and isn’t noticed for the readership killer it really is. You’ll discover new ways to inventory your blog and website, eliminating readership-killing distractions that detract from your message.
  • Guiding your reader. You’ll find out why subheads, call-outs, and lists are so important in engaging readers and maintaining their interest.
  • Planning your website. Letting Go of the Words guides you through the process of creating visitor personas and organizing your site to deliver the information and experience your visitors are looking for.

Good news! Best of all, last week, a second edition of Letting Go of the Words appeared, rewritten to reflect the latest user experience research and trends in online copywriting and website design.

7 ways to tell the story of your personal brand

Many books about personal branding describe the importance of using stories to build your personal brand, but Patrick Hanlon’s PrimalBranding: Create Zealots for your Brand, Your Company, and your Future is unique because it decodes the DNA of brands and shares 7 specific ways to create the story of your personal brand.

After researching and analyzing the stories associated with the leading business brands, Hanlon outlines 7 codes, or techniques, you can use:

  1. Creation story. Base your brand’s story on how your firm came to be, such as the origins of Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard in garages behind Silicon Valley homes.
  2. Creed. Strong brands, like the United States Constitution, are usually associated with a core set of beliefs, or basic principles that guide behavior.
  3. Icons. Hanlon describes icons as “concentrations” of sensations, like sight (Apple’s logo) sound (Intel’s chimes), or smell (Cinnabon), associated with strong brands.
  4. Rituals. Rituals are signature repeated patterns of behavior, like the way worship services are organized, store visitors are greeted, or product packaging (like Tiffany’s blue boxes), that set brands apart from their competition.
  5. Pagans, (non-believers). Strong brands often don’t stand for something as much as they are created in opposition to other brands. In other words, Apple’s Macintosh brand needs Microsoft’s Windows as its enemy, and the rise of Protestantism required Catholicism. In an election year, of course, the power of pagans is even more obvious. 
  6. Sacred words. Strong brands are often associated with the specific words used to rally followers, such as the Vietnam anti-war movement’s “Hell no, we won’t go!”
  7. Leader. Finally, Hanlon shows how strong brands often have a charismatic leader that symbolizes the firm, no matter how large it becomes. The impact of the leader often extends long after their death, as examples like Ghandi and Steve Jobs show.

After describing the DNA builders described above, Hanlon provides detailed suggestions and tips for employing 1, or more, of the DNA strands into your personal brand.

Letting Go of the Words and Primal Branding are recommended additions to your personal branding library which should include books Making Ideas Happen, The Power of Habit, and Dan’s Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future. What’s your favorite brand-building book? Share your comments and  suggestions!


Roger C. Parker encourages you to download his free workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before you Write & Self-Publish a Brand-building Book. You can also use his online form to ask questions about writing and publishing.