Tell Me Your Story

Tell Me Your Story

A few weeks ago I was in Austin, Texas on a corporate retreat with one of my clients when the subject of clothing and fashion came up. I had just returned from a pilgrimage to my favorite boot shop in town when my colleague, Peter, pointed out that I seemed to be drawn to bespoke clothing and brands. In the past we had chatted over drinks about my love of certain types of brands and products and he understood that to mean “custom” products. As I thought it about it more, I wasn’t necessarily drawn to custom products or even expensive brands, it was more about those that had an interesting story to tell.

I’m a fan of supporting small businesses – even more so when they have a compelling story about what led them down the road they’re traveling on. For example, I know that Jerry Ryan, owner of Heritage Boot in Austin, is from Ireland and had wanted to be a bootmaker in the United States since he was a kid. I know that Jack Sepetjian, and his family at Anto Distinctive Shirtmakers in Beverly Hills, have been making hand-measured custom shirts for clients like Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rourke, Tom Cruise and Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) for a more than half a century. I know that Mike and Brook Carhartt, of Carhartt Winery, crafts some of the finest Pinot Noir in the Santa Ynez Valley by lovingly tending to their family-owned 13 acre vineyard just north of Santa Barbara.

How do I know all this? They told me. They’ve made it a point to weave these stories into the fabric of their brand and that is a powerful thing.

Even today, I still speak to businesses that don’t see the value in sharing their stories with their customers. They feel like the conversation should ultimately be about low prices, volume and revenue. And while I agree that we’ve descended into a Walmart-centric culture where people want the absolute lowest prices for anything and everything, I believe that there are people like me that will seek out and pay more for quality items from a brand whose story we can identify with. I believe these people, like me, will not only pay more to support these brands, but they will also shout their loyalty from the rooftops. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Tweeted about my favorite pair of Heritage Boots, or talked my friends’ ears off about a delicious bottle of Carhartt wine. When I find something I like, I want to share it with those around me and I don’t believe I’m the only one that feels this way.

Interestingly, I didn’t discover any of the brands I’ve mentioned above on Twitter or Facebook. Instead, a conversation with a concierge here, and a sommelier there and I was on my way. But, just because I didn’t initially find these hidden gems online, I did research them there and it was then that I fell in love with their mission and commitment to their craft. For the record, there are lots  of other brands I dig that are heavily engaged online including; Ugmonk, Franco Uomo, Robert Graham and The Biltmore. They all deserve your attention.

Now let’s be clear – I didn’t write this post to show you how to tell your story – I’ve written many posts on how to use the web to build your brand. You can start HERE, HERE and HERE if you’re so inclined. Instead, I wanted to try and convince you that your story is worth telling. Passion is contagious. People respect those that are committed to doing things differently and driving their brand forward. They want to support those that are unique and passionate about taking the road less traveled.

I challenge you to craft your story: why do you do what you do? How did you get here? What does your brand mean to you? Start there and put it online. Then share it in person with your customers. Let me know how it goes.