When I first started at McGill University, I wanted to be a journalist. I loved the idea of interviewing people and sharing in their experiences. I was also drawn to adventure, and in my mind a journalist was a modern day action hero. However, after taking several courses, I realized that the confines of traditional journalism did not suit my personality, so I decided to pursue my passion for books and complete a degree in Cultural Studies and Literature. My focus was on media and messaging, including how information was being delivered and perceived (think Marshall McLuhan meets Naomi Klein).
When I returned to Vancouver, I took an internship at Vancouver Magazine and then launched an online magazine (Don’t Tell Kelly) with my brother Scott. It was then that I realized that journalism was shifting beneath my feet. It was 2003 and while the Internet looked much different than it does now, independent writers, like myself, suddenly had an open platform for our words. I started writing for sites like suite101.com and submitting articles to online magazines, while at the same time pursuing a career in marketing and advertising.
Then my mom introduced me to the world of Jungian Mythologists, including Joseph Campbell, Marion Woodman and Robert Bringhurst and everything changed. I realized how connected I felt to mythology and folklore and started to explore my own story. When I was little, my dad and I were part of a group of fathers and daughters that got together to tell First Nations stories (the organization was called Indian Princess – obviously not politically correct, but I’ll chalk that up to the 80s). I remember hearing stories like How The Loon Lost Her Voice and feeling so close to the story that to this day I am mesmerized by these beautiful water birds.
My goal then became to widen my scope and build my own story. I started by writing my goals down on a piece of paper and the words that kept coming up were Storytelling and Community Building. I had never even heard about story branding until I googled story + marketing and learned about Envisioning and Storytelling, a strategic storytelling agency right here in Vancouver B.C. Suddenly the path widened and my options opened up. I did not have to force myself into a job (square peg that I am) – I could create my own business, and bring my unique skills and passion to the table to help people understand and connect with their business. That was four years ago. I remember sitting in a cafe, writing down potential names for my business and thinking no one was going to understand what I was trying to do.
Fast forward to present day and I am astounded at the number of storytellers I meet, whether in person or via twitter. While we all have different approaches, and different skill sets, I think that people are starting to realize that branding is about a feeling and not a logo. It is about connecting with your audience, and the best way to do that is to relay true stories and personal experiences. My job is to interview people (yes, that passion for journalism is finally being fed!) and uncover the story threads that can then be woven into a brand. For me, storytelling is about connecting with people and translating their experiences into a unique brand identity. I have managed to build a business doing exactly what I love. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.