Let’s go back in time for a second— to a more innocent time, long ago. The year was 2015: when Jon Snow was thought to be dead and Adele was in California dreaming about who she used to be. Hotline Bling blasted from radios and only the coolest of cools knew about how the 10 dollar founding father without a father got a lot farther by working a lot harder (it’s 2019 now— the rest of us normies probably know the rest by heart).
Back then, a prominent woman in the wedding photography world was shouting from the rooftops that every photographer needed three words to embody their brand. That way, your clients would know exactly what you were all about (because you spoon-fed it to them, right on the landing page for your site). Just three words! That’s all the thinking you have to do. Sure enough, every website I’d visit in 2015 would have “Romantic, timeless, elegant” in some cursive font prominently listed right at the top of their website. Can’t come up with your own three words? Don’t worry… To save you actually doing the work of understanding your work, your brand, and your client, you can download her sample list to get your gears turning or just copy/paste. Here’s the thing about this trend… Telling me your brand is “lighthearted, airy, and fun” doesn’t tell me shit about shit. Yet everyone did it.
Can I make a simple, humble request of all business owners out there? Can we all agree to tell better stories?
Here’s what I’m talking about: Vintner’s Daughter is a simple face oil that somehow charges over twice as much as its high-end competitors. But along with the price tag, the owner and creator has woven a story that starts with her in her family’s vineyards as a kid, with hands deep in the soil, learning firsthand what methodical attention to a luxury product looked like. Fast forward to her own pregnancy. When she couldn’t find chemical free skincare that actually worked, she used her extensive knowledge of terroir to make the most powerful, botanically rich face oil in the world. Bam. Vintner’s Daughter skincare was born, and we get the Cliff’s Notes version of why it’s going to rock our world.
Compelling right? She tells a story that helps us understand how she is uniquely qualified to make this product, that her deep experience will directly affect the quality of our skin, and people are not only happy to pay the steep price for her product, but become evangelists all over the interwebs. I mean, she got Gwyneth!
Listen, I’m not asking you to go back and unearth some story from childhood about how you used to make toaster strudels every Sunday morning. I’m asking you to do the deeper work to figure out how you’ve gotten where you are and how your story uniquely sets you up to serve your clients. How do you tell a better story? It’s so much more than picking three random words you like from a list that someone else handed you. It comes from profound self-reflection as to who you are, where you came from, how you got here, and most importantly, how your story affects the level of service and product your client will receive.
We love this stuff, and our mission is that every business owner levels up in a deeply rooted way— not with a shallow adjective collection that passes itself off as branding. We can do better: for ourselves, our stories, and our future clients— who are waiting for us. If you’re ready to dive deeper and tell a better story so your business can reach the next level, we still have a few spaces in our very tiny, hands-on copywriting and branding workshop next month in Seattle! We’re already rolling our sleeves up.
PS. For what it’s worth, we tried the “three adjective” thing just now and came up with the following options for Sullivan & Sullivan: dutch, dark, hold my drank. Look out, world.