Sarah’s 3 Brand Storytelling Pillars – Episode 60

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Inside peek at how a brand storytelling strategist outlines her own company’s 3 storytelling pillars. What they are. How she selected them. Inspiration to refine your own storytelling pillars for more focus and better results. 

THIS EPISODE AT-A-GLANCE

  • What is Sarah’s Brand Storytelling Blueprint?
  • The Rule of Three
  • Mini Courses and Storytelling Academy
  • Sarah’s Brand Storytelling Pillars
  • Connect with Sarah

Full Podcast Transcription

Sarah Panus:
If you’ve been following along with me here on this podcast or on my LinkedIn or Instagram channels, or if you’re an email subscriber in my weekly brand storytelling newsletter, you hear me talk about storytelling pillars. And storytelling pillars is a key component of your brand storytelling blueprint. It is what really helps you focus and prioritize, giving you sanity in your job, giving you focused results for better results. And I thought, you know, I’ve talked about the need to create three brand storytelling pillars. And so today I’m gonna actually give you an inside look at what are my personal three brand storytelling pillars for my Kindred Speak business.  

Sarah Panus:
Hi, my name is Sarah Panus. I have spent the last two decades driving digital content for billion dollar brands. Now I help content marketers build winning brand storytelling strategies and reduce feelings of overwhelm and confusion. Join me as we discuss strategy, creativity, confidence, and building a better connection with your audience. Think of this as a creative content marketing jam session mixed with chicken soup for the soul. This is the marketing with empathy podcast. 

Sarah Panus:
Hey, Hey, kindred speakers. Welcome back to another episode. And if this is your first time listening, thank you for coming by and listening. I hope you like today’s episode. And if you’re listening and you’ve been listening and enjoying the show, please, could you do me a favor? Could you hop on over and rate this podcast? If you love it, please give it a five star review in apple podcast and Spotify, wherever you’re listening. This helps the algorithm serve this podcast up to more people. Obviously the more stars, the more reviews the, those are indicators to each of those platforms that, Hey, this is a podcast people like to listen to and it gets served up more and more and more so, uh, would really appreciate it. If you could hop on over and share a review, give me five stars. And you know, I’ve heard this done on another podcast and I thought I’m gonna do this here, where I wanna read a podcast review. And if you share a review, there’s a chance you could get featured on the podcast here as well. So today’s review, five star review, comes from Amanda at a Greenhouse Content where she says,

this is an amazing resource and must listen. This podcast covers it All. Storytelling is such a core part of marketing today, and Sarah knows what you need when you need it. I regularly find myself re-listening to episodes based on what I’m working on or a specific question I have. an amazing resource and must listen for writers AND MARKETERS alike.

Sarah Panus:
Thank you so much, Amanda, for leaving that review. I’m really glad you’re getting a lot out of this show. I really, really appreciate it. Thank you. This podcast is definitely something, um, you’ll hear from most podcast hosts, right? They tend to be a labor of love. These are things that we don’t get monetized for incredibly for, um, or any. And it is something I do because I really am passionate about sharing these insights with all of you, having been a marketer, uh for 20 years on the corporate agency side myself. And I just want to really help lift up our practice. I wanna help lift us up as people. I wanna help, uh, all of us just drive better results and better serve the communities and the audiences we’re serving. So thank you and welcome.

Sarah Panus:
Today, we’re gonna dig in and unpack a, a piece of my brand storytelling blueprint course. I have this mini course, um, that I offer it’s available all the time for anyone who’s interested. And one of the key components of a brand storytelling blueprint and why you wanna have it, um, one of those key pieces is what are your three storytelling pillars? So I’m gonna give you guys an inside look here, an inside sneak peek, um, at what my three brand storytelling pillars look like for my Kindred Speak Business. Because I think it’s helpful to hear examples of how other companies are doing things, right? And so I’m gonna be giving you guys that scoop today. So first, so let me just back up a little bit.

WHAT IS Sarah’s BRAND STORYTELLING BLUEPRINT?

What is a brand storytelling blueprint? So in my mini-course, um, my brand storytelling blueprint course, I outline the blueprint. It’s a PowerPoint template. Um, you can create them in Excel as well, but mine is created in PowerPoint and it is a document that helps to align your organization. Internally alignment, if you have trouble getting everyone on the same page, you need to get your leaders or your teams aligned to your vision. This blueprint will outline how to clearly and simply outline the details of your content plans. It also really helps you with prioritization and focus. So if you’re feeling all over the place, um, you need to really wrangle your storytelling messages into pillars. And so I walk through how to do that in my course, using my fed method. F E D which is focus + empathy + data, in a concise way, which is the blueprint. And all of this ultimately is to help you have more sanity in your job. So I wanna help you go from overwhelmed and confused into like empowered and feeling very sane. Um, you know, go from unsure to clear. A well crafted brand storytelling blueprint helps you say no distractions and yes, to what matters. So top line, my brand storytelling blueprint course has a plug and play PowerPoint template that I walk you through, um, videos you can watch on your own time. 

Sarah Panus:
It’s a quick minicourse, um, it’s only $79. And after you hear what I’m talking about today, if you’re interested, I’ll share the link where you can go and learn more, but I thought that’s not the point. I’m not trying to plug this program right now, but what I wanted you to know was what it’s about and how storytelling pillars, these three I’m gonna talk through, is just a small is one piece. It’s one, literally it’s one slide in your blueprint, but it’s one of the most important slide in the whole blueprint itself. So I know you guys listening, uh, here we are marketing professionals, brand storytelling, content, marketing, communications, digital communications, social. I mean, there’s a lot of hats that we wear and different roles within the marketing umbrella and how we can better connect with our audiences. And my whole thing is because you, you really want to grow brand storytelling in your organization. 

Sarah Panus:
You maybe just need help framing up your strategy and thinking more like an editorial director in the day to day. So brand storytelling blueprint really gonna help you do that and getting super focused, um, and getting internal and what the three pillars are, is going to have leaps and bounds impacts in your organization. I did this working, like I said, the past 20 years, working at corporate and agency environments. But in my corporate role, this was huge and it’s needed, it’s necessary. Because I’ve been in both fronts where you don’t have focused areas, different teams focus on different things, lots of ideas coming at you left and right. Reactive, not as proactive feeling like you need to support all the things. And there’s just no possible way that you ever could get all those things supported, cuz there’s just not enough time in the day to do it all. Like oh my gosh, what are we gonna do? 

Sarah Panus:
So that’s not a good feeling, I’ve been there. It’s not a good feeling, but when you have focused areas like truly focused areas guys, and you can keep coming back to those strategically, you can keep focusing, you’re going to drive better results. So that’s what we’re gonna talk about. All right, so I talk about three storytelling pillars. Um, people have asked, can I have five? Can I have two? Um, I think three is a good number. If it needs to be four because your organization has maybe just one extra thing, fine. You’re not gonna die on the stake by having four. But try to get to three, three is just a really nice number to be able to focus and not feel like you’re as scattered with your resources and your people and your time. So try to get to three if you can. Okay. 

THe rule of three

Sarah Panus:
And when you think about three kinda this rule of three is you wanna be thinking about storytelling pillars of as like overarching umbrellas. From which under that umbrella, there’s all sorts of sub topics and storylines and things that all ladder up to that overarching umbrella. And what I like to do is I like to have the first two storytelling pillars be very on point about your brand, about if you know product, your service, your offering. Like a word or two, that words that describe it. And the third pillar, if you can, is to think about, what’s kind of your wild card as a business, as someone, if you’re working for someone else’s company and your corporation. Like what makes your brand and your company unique and stand out from the competition, what’s your differentiator? Um, if you are an entrepreneur listening and you run your own company, um, what is that thing? 

Sarah Panus:
And if you’re a solopreneur and you think about your personal brand, what is that thing about you yourself? That is a bit of a differentiator? The reason why that third pillar is nice to have a wild card is because that just makes your storylines more interesting. It also gives you an opportunity to highlight your authority markers or your differentiators and those like weird things about you that are gonna help you attract your audience and help you attract your people that align with what you believe or think. And it just helps you find the right and connect with the right audience. It makes just way more interesting stories too. So, I’m gonna walk you through my three. So I run, um, Kindred Speak is my brand storytelling strategy consulting business, where I do kind of two paths. So just to kind of set the track here before I jump into my pillars. One path is done for you, work where it’s an agency model, where you can hire me to help do the work for your company. 

Sarah Panus:
Um, so this is anything from I’m like a rental editor in chief for, um, for company blogs like external blogs, um, helping manage large third party external content partnerships, pulling together editorial content, calendars, and plans. And ideating and brainstorming with internal teams, thinking through the right cohesive process to build brand storytelling within your organization, audits, you know, content work. Creative ideation I already said. Um, so that’s like a big gamut from strategy to like the project management piece, right? Then like the other track with my Kindred Speak business are my online courses. So this is where, um, you can DIY it yourself. So I will teach you how to do this, how to have these editorial director skills to help you advance in your career to help your teams advance. Um, so I have, as I’m recording this right now, I have two different course options. 

Mini Courses and storytelling Academy

Sarah Panus:
One as a mini course, um, that I mentioned have been mentioning here, which is my brand storytelling blueprint, mini course, $79 plug and play PowerPoint template real, just just easy get or done like that’s your quick win folks. Okay. Um, a great introduction to me too, if you’re curious about what it’s like to work with me or the insights I share and things like that, but it is amazing. It should be a lot more expensive, but I just wanted a quick win for people. So the brand storytelling blueprint is that mini course. And then I have a larger, um, team group training program called Brand Storytelling Academy. So this is a multi month program where, um, one person up to five people from a company, um, can participate and yet very hands on weekly training. It’s very in depth where we go through how to attract upper funnel leads that drive lower funnel results through brand storytelling. 

Sarah Panus:
So at, by the end of Brand Storytelling Academy, you’re much better equipped to know how to structure your plans, how to think like an editorial director, how to, um, brainstorm and creatively, think of content, how to create, um, great ally, internal ally conversations, how to scale and repurpose content and measure and all the things. So that is very, very hands on, um, weekly calls, um, office hour access to me, etc. So that is my bigger Brand Storytelling Academy program. So with those two tracks and in my brand storytelling business, I’m a brand storytelling consultant, right? So that sets the stage for my business. And my first two pillars that are, you know, on point for my brand are content marketing and creativity. Those are my first two pillars. And then my wild card about me, cause this is my personal brand, right? This is I, I run the company, um, I’m the face of the company. 

Sarah Panus:
So my personal brand, was like what is different and unique of a me? My wild card is child trafficking. So if you’ve been following along with me, you know, I donate a portion of all of my profits to a nonprofit called International Justice Mission, IJM. Who is just this incredible nonprofit that does absolutely incredible work on researching and investigating. And finding kids and families and adults that are trapped in trafficking around the world. And they not only can like find them, then they have rescue missions to go and rescue them and then rehabilitate them and then work through the court system and providing legal advice in different ways so that they can keep the bad people behind bars. Right. I’m gonna paraphrase, right. Just simplifying it. And then working with local law government officials to try to change the rules that make trafficking easier in some countries as well. 

Sarah Panus:
So they’re really working like soup to nets throughout all parts of the funnel. Um, and it’s just an amazing organization. So child trafficking is super, um, something I’m very passionate about. I have two kids myself and I just can’t even fathom anyone doing anything awful to children. And so I wanna help rescue as many of those kids and families as I possibly can. So it’s a benefit of my business, right? So as a brain storytelling strategist, there’s a lot of other brain storytelling strategists. There is, there’s a of people that you can be listening to and getting your insights from. Um, and you resonate with certain people for different things, right? And so that’s my wild card. That’s what makes me different in my business. And things that I talk about is I also talk about child trafficking. Um, I had a whole campaign recently all about, um, I did a 28 Days of Freedom campaign talking about child trafficking, education, and awareness and fundraising, um, to join me in helping raise more money to contribute to the great work that IJM is doing. 

Sarah’s Brand Storytelling pillars

Sarah Panus:
Okay. So my three content pillars, then again are content marketing, creativity and child trafficking. So then once you have your pillars identified. And so this takes work and like, you know, lot of like trial and error and words and descriptions about how you think about a pillar and what types of stories fall underneath it, that I go deeper into in my minicourse. But with me, I landed on these three. Um, and so I wanna just kind of talk through them and how each one is. Because then what you need to do of course is you need to describe it. Cuz if you’re gonna get any internal alignment you need to describe. Okay, what does this pillar talk about? What types of stories are included within it? So I’m gonna, I’m gonna read you what my description in the hopes that it inspires what you’re working on for your company. So content marketing description reads as follows,

content marketing jam session mixed with chicken soup for the soul. Brand storytelling marketing support for corporate professionals and business owners. Learn how to humanize your brand and think more like an editorial director.

Sarah Panus:
So that’s the umbrella of all my content marketing. So this is the brand storytelling related content that I share with you guys all the time, across all my different channels. And then what I did with, you know, a couple sentence description just to talk through what it is. Then what I do is, um, do some sub bullets, um, of, well, what are the different subcategories of content that falls under this huge umbrella? So for me empathy is a huge differentiator for me that I feel very passionately about and how that plays into the work we do. So I like to share empathy driven, brand storytelling examples. Um, for inspiration. 

Sarah Panus:
So it’s always nice to see, like what are other people doing? So this could be around content, teams, operations, partnerships, distribution, um, things that I’m seeing. And so a big part of that is what I share here and how any the other brands that I talk about here on this podcast or, um, case study examples that I share across my channels or in my email newsletters. This podcast plays a huge role under that. My FED method, F-E-D with focus + empathy + data and tips and tools. And how you think about, um, that in your current marketing plans, falls under that. Um, also me giving behind the scenes highlights just to help, um, highlight what I do. You know, demystifying your company, demystifying like what do I do so people can have a better idea of if they wanna keep listening to me, if they’d ever down the road wanna work with me and getting really clear there. 

Sarah Panus:
And then another bucket of like how to think like an editorial director. Questions and prompts to really help you up level your career. So, um, my two course programs, Brand Storytelling Academy, brand storytelling blueprint, do that, um, career tips, um, and things along those lines. So that’s my first bucket. That’s content marketing. Then my second bucket, is my second pillar is creativity. So the description for this one is,

You’re more creative than you realize. Everyone can be creative with the right prompts, tools, mindset, and support. This content helps ignite marketers creativity. To do work you love because you feel more confident, empowered, and inspired.

Sarah Panus:
So that’s my description and then my sub story examples underneath that, that support the historic creativity pillar are how to be more creative. So this is where I share actionable ideas, whether you’re part of a team or whether you’re solo, trying to do it yourself. And then as well as things internally and externally that you can can do. This is where I have on this podcast. I have a creative karma series and whenever I highlight creativity, I’ll talk about creative karma. You know, being more creative, giving more creative, it all goes around full circle and sharing ideas on and examples of how to be more creative. I’ve shared, um, a four minute brainstorm. As an example, I’ve talked with creativity experts. Um, I have a lot more, I’m gonna be sharing in this space moving forward.

Sarah Panus:
This is also where I can share brand examples for in inspiration of how other brands are being more creative in a variety of ways. Also sharing what’s inspiring me. What are my creative sparks to share again, inspiration that you may not know about? It might be something I’m reading, something I’m subscribed to something I’ve seen, um, connection points that maybe, um, come together and could spark a creative idea for you. And then the, the last facet of creativity is really having the courage for more confidence. So when you’re courageous, um, be, create being creative can be tough sometimes. And putting yourself out there and sharing your creative ideas is, um, you know, it’s a risk, anytime you put yourself out there. My big thing is really helping you feel more courageous to do it. And in the process, you just get more confident in what you’re doing in your career and in your day to day. And then we have my wild card with child trafficking which I talked about and this description is,

Help create a safer future for kids. Child trafficking exists, but there’s something we can all do right now to decrease it in our lifetime. What to know, success stories of hope, and how you can join me to rescue more kids.

Sarah Panus:
And the subtopics off of that are IJM’s stories of rescue to show the hope and outcomes that are possible. So, um, you know, that the nonprofit that I support. Cyber trafficking and the online exploitation of kids, it’s a whole new realm of, um, trafficking is just the internet space and all the icky stuff that happens there. Advice for parents and kids, stats and signs to look forward, to be more alert and helpful society against these abusers. And the last is to make action easy, removing the doubt of asking the question, what can I do by sharing simple things people can do? Whether it’s challenges, links, petitions, stuff to watch for, hand signals to know, things like that. 

Sarah Panus:
So that’s it. That’s my three brain storytelling pillars. Um, the nice thing with storytelling pillars is you should write them in a way that they should for at least a year for your brand. Generally on the corporate side, when I’ve done storytelling pillars, they last two years. And then we revisit them every two years, cuz it seems like, you know, there’s nuances and evolutions and things on the corporate end where brands are evolving words, nuances, change. But these should be things that, um, for the most part represent your brand for a long time. That you keep coming back to it’s what people know you for. And so one of the things, and I think about with storytelling pillars is you is kinda think of your top line and, and think of it as if your magazine an editor. Think of it as if you’re a magazine, period. 

Connect with Sarah

Sarah Panus:
And you’re like, Hey, um, I’m this so and so magazine and we talk about X, Y, and Z. That’s your storytelling pillars. That’s like anything you see on the shelf, if you’re gonna look at a magazine, you’re like, yeah, I like that magazine. And they talk about these three things and I, that resonates with me. So that’s you, that’s your storytelling pillar. So that’s just an inside scoop again on something I go into much deeper in my brand storytelling blueprint course. So if you are interested in that couple ways, you can get there, on any of my social channels, on LinkedIn and Instagram, I have links. So you’ll be able to click through to my courses. You can also go directly to my course website. It’s a Kajabi website and it’s sarah-panus.mykajabi.com otherwise I think the easiest probably is just to go to kindredspeak.com uh, click on courses, under the ways to work with me. And it’ll get you there.

Sarah Panus:
So essentially, no matter which way you go, in any of my channels you’ll be able to find out more about brand storytelling blueprint. Um, you’ll be able to find out more about the group program, Brand Storytelling Academy. If you’re interested in a more immersive experience to learn these details for yourself and your own career, to level up for your teams to advance what your company is doing. And, uh, I would love to have you and we can chat through and see if it’s a good fit. If you, any questions, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or Instagram, or you can send me an email, sarah@kindredspeak.com and we can chat through it. And I’ll let you know if it sounds like it’s the right fit or not. Uh, and that’s all I have. So I hope this was inspiring. I hope this was insightful. And, um, in helping you, as you’re thinking through your own three storytelling pillars and how you can talk about it in your organization. So until next time, Kindred Speakers.

Closing Remarks

Sarah Panus:
Hi fives for finishing another episode. When faced with an obstacle, you’re the type of person who gets better instead of bitter. I hope you feel creatively inspired and invite you to check back often for more goodness from me and my guest. If you want more actionable advice and inspiration head over to kindredspeak.com for show notes, all discount codes from today’s episode, and to sign up for my newsletter. Subscribe now to the Marketing With Empathy Podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify and wherever else you get your podcast. And if you’d be so kind, will you please leave me a review. This helps my podcast get noticed by others. Keep smiling.

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ABOUT SARAH PANUS

Sarah Panus is a brand storytelling marketing strategist, Minnesota mom, and owner of Kindred Speak, LLC, a remote consultancy that helps corporations attract upper-funnel leads that drive bottom-funnel results through storytelling.  Her mission is to add value to the world by humanizing brand+consumer connections. Her online courses teach content professionals inside corporations think like Editorial Directors for their brand to drive stronger results while enjoying their jobs more.  She’s spent the last 20 years helping brands including Sleep Number, Starbucks, Nestle Waters, Christos Bridal, Game Crazy, Cone Inc, and others, speak a kindred language with their audiences, driving brand advocacy and millions in revenue and brand engagements. Learn more at www.kindredspeak.com. Follow Sarah on Instagram and LinkedIn.