Stories have a way of sticking in our minds.

There’s something about being human that draws us more toward storytelling than just about anything else. From books and television to philosophy and religion, stories are the fundamental building blocks of how we find our place in the world and our lives. They’re also how we decide which businesses, individuals and brands we choose to identify with.

Brand Building through Storytelling

It’s true that people want simple solutions, answers to their questions and engaging content. More than anything, however, they want to connect with others, and nothing cuts through to the heart of what brings us all together more than a good story. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, your ability to share your personal story with your intended audience can make the difference between being just another service provider and an authentic source of inspiration.

Telling the stories behind our businesses is how we develop brands that stick in people’s minds. By creating an environment that allows people to identify themselves with our brands, however, we can also create communities that allow members to share their own stories in a way that is even more powerful.

Community Building through Storytelling

It used to be that brands became successful by positioning themselves as the big heroes of their their target audience. As John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing points out in his new book, The Commitment Engine, this has changed radically in recent years. Today, the most successful brands pass the tipping point by enabling individuals to become the heroes of their own personal stories.

One of the more extreme examples of this that’s been at the forefront of my mind lately has been the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. In a nutshell, Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects that allows members to back projects ranging from films and stage shows to clothing and useful gadgets. In exchange for their support on successful projects, members receive samples of the final products or other types of experiences (thank you notes, photos, etc).

Inventors, designers and creatives from all sorts of backgrounds are now using this amazing community to share exciting new projects that allow anyone to become a part their stories by chipping in on the ground floor. In doing so, Kickstarter has positioned themselves as one of the most exciting places to be online simply through allowing community members to engage in simple but irresistible storytelling.

Granted, we can’t all be the next Kickstarter, but we can use our own stories and those of our network to create a self-fulfilling sense of community. How on earth did you find yourself doing what you do today? What is it about your target market that makes you want to see them succeed?

More importantly, what is heroic or inspiring about how about watching them overcome obstacles and reach their goals? How can you encourage them to share their stories within your own community?

It’s the answers to questions like these that allow us to create both meaningful, authentic personal brands and communities that put our audience’s stories ahead of our own.