You've built an amazing product, solved a critical consumer need and are ready to ramp up your sales. Now what?
An important next step that many entrepreneurs miss is to flesh out your brand story. What inspired you to launch your business? What struggles did you overcome? Build a narrative around your experiences to amplify your customer bonds.
"Brand stories are not marketing materials," Susan Gunelius writes in Forbes. "They are not ads, and they are not sales pitches. Brand stories should be told with the brand persona and the writer’s personality at center stage."
If you're wondering where to start, check out these four companies for inspiration:
The Company: Shopulse
The Brand Story: A Kid's Dream
Shopulse is more than a flash deals website—it's the dream of 16-year-old Raphaël Paulin-Daigle, who is setting out to solve a major retailer problem: inventory management.
Raphaël first ventured into the world of entrepreneurship when he was just 11 years old. His passion for magic inspired him to start an online store, which evolved into a directory for entertainers. Over the years, this teenager from Moncton, Canada, experimented with a number of business ideas.
"I love to create. I have a strong imagination. I always have these ideas that pop into my mind," he says in an interview with Clarity. "Entrepreneurship is the best way for me to explore my creativity. Like many entrepreneurs, I want to change the world in some way."
Raphaël's story is empowering, emotional and highly moving—as a spectator, you can't help but cheer him on.
The Company: Higher Learning Technologies
The Brand Story: An Accidental Entrepreneur
Alec Whitters spent his whole life preparing for a medical career—that is, until he started studying for his dental school exams. At that point, he found a new life calling.
Buried in note cards, he wanted a more efficient way to study for his tests. He searched for smartphone apps but couldn't find the solution he needed. So he created his own. The University of Iowa student mobilized his peers, organized a team and built Higher Learning Technologies to help students study for their dental boards, DATs, MCATs and dental hygiene exams. In one year, Alec and his founding team have built a viable product that now sees thousands of daily downloads in 70 countries.
Alec's story is one that inspires belief in his product, because what motivated him was something beyond money—it was a desire to solve a real and pressing problem for students.
The Company: ModCloth
The Brand Story: Hobby Turned Business Success
It's hard to believe that one of America's fastest growing retailers launched in a dorm room. Susan Gregg Koger spent her college years in love with vintage clothing. Her hobby eventually grew into a business with her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Gregg Koger. Today, ModCloth is growing at more than 50 percent per year and has earned a spot on Fast Company's list of innovative businesses.
Susan's story is built and inspired by the community around her brand. She's a passionate fashion leader who is constantly inspired by her customers and peers, and believes in fashion for everyone by anyone.
The Company: Clarity
The Brand Story: A Leader Gives Back
Dan Martell wants to positively affect a billion people over the next 10 years. That's why he's building Clarity—a platform where entrepreneurs can find great advice.
Dan's previous business ventures have taken him to amazing heights. He sold his first company—Spheric Technologies—in 2008. Then he co-founded Flowtown, a social marketing application, which he sold to Demandforce in 2011. These successes spurred the idea for Clarity, which stemmed from Dan's desire to give back.
“The inspiration came from growing up in a small town, without having anybody else in my network and failing twice—once when I was 18 and then again when I was 20,” Martell says in an interview with Grasshopper. “Then, when I was 24, I reached out to a former minister in a midnight email. He replied, giving me the names of three people who would eventually become my mentors. They gave me great advice, which enabled me to build Spheric.”
Dan's story is one that underscores the community he's building—a safe place where business leaders can learn, grow and push their limits.
How to Build a Brand Story
What motivates you? What inspires your team to wake up and come into work every day? How will your company change the world? Brand stories begin with answers to these questions—start vocalizing yours.
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Ritika is a San Francisco-based blogger who writes about trends in business, Internet culture and marketing. She's inspired by the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship and sociology.
Photo: Getty Images