What to Do When You Have an “Unglamourous” Backstory

Prefer to read with your ears? Listen to the Authentic Brand podcast episode on this topic below.

Have you ever listened to someone successful tell their brand’s story and thought, “That’s amazing! But I haven’t been through anything like that.” So you sit back, silent, never sharing your own story. You may find yourself sharing only surface-level facts about your brand and business – never venturing too deep out of fear that someone might discover that you don’t have anything special to say.

Today I want to talk about that paralyzing feeling.

Storytelling is an important part of growing your brand, and if you aren’t telling your brand’s story, then you’re missing out on a deeper connection with your audience.

And SPOILER: Even if you think you don’t, you DO have a brand story worth telling. I guarantee it.


The Dreaded “What’s Your Brand’s Story?” Question

When I started my business, I DREADED being asked…

  • ‘What’s your story?’
  • ‘How did you start your business?’
  • ‘How did you get into what you’re doing today’?

I wished I could say that I had a lifelong dream of running a business, that I had a clear plan on how to fix the world’s problems, and that I was already successfully doing it. But the reality was, I didn’t and wasn’t, and because my story wasn’t’ impressive’, I decided to tell no story at all.

The short version of my untold story was that I had a desk job, got hurt, and started a business.
(OK, there were a few more details than that – you can hear it on Episode 4 of the Authentic Brand podcast. 😉 )

Not the most uplifting tale though, right? The truth is, every time I thought about the story, it hurt. 

Now instinctively, I knew that wasn’t the true story of my brand, and so I didn’t tell it. In fact, I didn’t tell any story. I kept to the safe details of my background: my education, my experience, my business name.

But safety doesn’t guarantee success. 

Have you ever held back a part of who you were because you were afraid of what people might think?

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Overcoming Your Own Filters

Running a business is one of the hardest things you can choose to do, and no one tells you just how much you have to invest in yourself to make it work. There are ups and downs, trials and triumphs, all of which are run through your own thought filters as you experience them.

But here’s something I need you to know:

  • You are not your thoughts.
  • Your story is not a concrete collection of things that happened to you.
  • You control the narrative, and you can use that power to inspire other people into action.
  • AND, the things that prompted you to start your business are not necessarily your brand’s story!

You can’t change the past. You can’t alter the facts, but you can decide what’s important.

If you’re contending with a story that doesn’t sit well, you may be tempted to not tell a story at all. But stories are crucial for your business. They’re one of the best ways to help your audience FEEL something – a deeper connection to you and your brand.


Choosing the Right Story for Your Brand

Discovering the right story for your brand can take some digging, but it’s worth it! It’s one more outlet where you can leverage your authenticity to connect to the clients, partners and opportunities who are a great fit for your business.

When I ditched the safe details and started sharing the real story and personality behind my brand, that’s when my business started to turn around. You can hear the full brand story on the Authentic Brand podcast, but the main point I want you to know is this:

When you are real, raw and authentic with your brand, that is when you bridge the gap between your audience’s brains and hearts.

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You go from being just another business to a brand people want to get behind.

And know that your brand’s story begins where you choose! It doesn’t have to be on the date you started your business or designed your logo. You have power over your past. You may not be able to change it, but you can choose how you let it change you.

So how do you get started? If you’re overwhelmed by a story that isn’t serving your brand, then it’s time to go deeper.


#1 Start with Your ‘Why’

Determine the deeper why behind your business or movement.

Find out what’s guiding your brand. What stories from your life or business encompass the change you want to create in the world?

#2 Ask for Feedback on Your Brand’s Story

Run your story by someone who can give you honest feedback.

We feel so connected to parts of our past that they can feel like they’re really important to our present and future. And they may be, but sometimes for a different context. Remember, you can choose which stories to tell in your brand. It doesn’t mean you’re taking away any part of your past – you’re just choosing the parts that are most relevant to your audience.

#3 Get to Know Your Brand Story

Practise telling your story.

When we’re so used to running through one story, it can be hard to switch over to a new one. Become comfortable with the story you tell. Connect to the emotion behind it. As Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Your brand has that power. So what’s your story?

To discover more authentic branding tips, follow me on Facebook and Instagram at Caitey Gilchrist Creative.