Story is all around us. Since the cavemen shared stories around the campfire to reading the news on our cell screens, it’s been at the heart of every transaction. It defines who we are, and it’s the way we connect with each other. It can be absolutely profoundly powerful – and transporting – because it takes us to another place. Remember when you last pleaded, in that little voice, ‘tell me another story, please?”

Stand out in the marketplace

Telling your personal brand story in the most fascinating way (yes, tell it like a story) is going to make your brand stand out in this marketplace. What’s more, it’ll captivate and transform your world, your audience or your consumers.

Just take a look at what’s happening across the social media platforms. What exactly are 500 million people doing on Facebook? Well, mostly they’re sharing their stories in words and pictures. They’re craving that emotional and powerful hit that comes through telling a story. It’s the ultimate form of creative expression which is an innate desire, and characteristic of humans, by the way. So if you’re haven’t been crafting your own killer personal brand story, now is a good time to start.

Technology is making sharing stories more fun and more frictionless. Social innovator Rachel Botsman and co-author of the influential book What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, talked at TEDx SYDNEY about the new ‘trust mechanics’ online, and explored how technology is actually enabling trust between strangers in the new peer-to-peer social revolution. (You can hear her talk at TEDx Sydney, Australia May 2101: A Case for Collaborative Consumption

So how do you start shaping your brand story so it has a distinctive and emotional resonance, shows you to be a real and trustworthy human being, and hits home with your audience? Here’s the secret:  You start digging deep:

Identify the defining moments in your life

Look at the trajectory of your life and/or career and identify which are the defining moments for you. Why do they stand out? What happened exactly, and why are they so significant to you? Let your memory take you right back there and probe a little more. The idea here is to pick one of your defining moments and then weave it right into the fabric of your brand story.

Defining moments in the fabric

Here’s one of my favorites. It’s a brilliant brand story:  Jeff Nussbaum is a partner at one of the country’s most prominent strategic speechwriting firms, West Wing Writers, based in Washington, D.C.  If you go to the About page on their site and click on Jeff Nussbaum, you’ll see how Jeff has shaped his story by capturing one defining (and traumatic) moment in his life:

Jeff Nussbaum | Partner

The first speech Jeff Nussbaum wrote was to defend himself against suspension from high school. It was unsuccessful. Since that time, Jeff has written speeches, op-eds, and promotional materials for heads of state, corporate executives, foundations, professional athletes, actors, and trade associations.

Get the idea? I can only assume Jeff’s defining moment was quite a dramatic experience. But see how he has turned it around, and crafted a highly idiosyncratic, captivating and moving personal story?

FYI: Storytelling is critical to your personal brand and business for a couple of reasons:

  • An authentic personal brand story makes you totally memorable (in the best way possible)
  • It differentiates you as desirable (what could be better?)
  • It brings your brand to life (nothing worse than a bland brand so this is all good news)
  • It gives you a distinct competitive advantage (FYI not many people out there can tell a good brand story)
  • Your audience becomes hugely responsive (absolutely)
  • It lands an unforgettable spot in the psyche of your audience (what more can I say?)

Warning: Our brains are constantly on alert, scanning the horizon for insincere messages. Just write your story with absolute sincerity. Consumers out there are savvy. They can smell a fake story a mile away. Be exactly who you say you are. Then, watch heads turn!

So have you identified one of your most remarkable defining moments yet?


Mary van de Wiel is best known for her global expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real power in brands to dramatically increase sales. Van is founder and Creative Director of She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter