Actor by training
Biz owner by choice
Wildly enthusiastic by nature

I work with the enthusiastic overthinkers among us to clarify exactly what it is they do and why it matters through equity-centered coaching,  and values-based  copywriting.

Hearing *crickets* when you open your calendar?

Better bookings this way

Take the quiz to uncover what's blocking the bookings, and get actionable tips to get you back to your flow.

I'm Megan - the wordsmith behind MD&Co.

How to Craft a Compelling Brand Story

filed in


Megan Dowd

Human First, Biz Second®

One of my favorite podcasts from the early 00s – when podcasts were still a newfangled notion and folks were free to experiment with the medium – was put out by a small Canadian theater troupe called Decoder Ring Theater. Their intrepid leader wrote, directed and produced two serials: The Red Panda, a nod to 1930s superhero chronicles; and Black Jack Justice, a film noir narrative of hardboiled detective Jack Justice and his partner Trixie Dickson, Girl Detective.

The shows had a small but dedicated audience at the time – myself included – and folks would frequently comment in the reviews that the thing missing was an origin story, when were we going to get the origins of either the Red Panda or Jack Justice, could they please just drop an episode or two about how it all started??

The writer eventually acquiesced with the caveat that they weren’t a fan of origin stories: they ruined the mystique, they took away from the listeners experience, origin stories just weren’t good storytelling.

I have to agree (to a certain extent).

Especially when it comes to brand and business origin stories.

Most small business owners became small business owners out of extraordinary circumstances; chronic illness, neurodiversity, passion project, whatever the reason there is typically a catalyst into small business ownership that is incredibly important to the owner.

This, on its own, is not a problem.

The problem comes when these small business owners try to craft their brand story, they start with their origin story, and suddenly it’s no longer about their business, their mission or vision, but about the extenuating circumstances that are a key part of their origin story and the audience – their target market! – is lost in the mix.

Rather than try to share every fact and figure of how your business started (ie your origin story), consider crafting a unique brand story that compels your target audience to remember you.

Crafting your brand story can certainly start with the full chronology of events that led to the creation of your business – then when it comes to crafting we need look no further than Aristotle and his modes of persuasion. Think of it as a structure rather than a formula: these modes of persuasion will offer focus, specific to your target audience, that will help you edit your origin story into a compelling brand story.

The following is a bulleted list of an imaginary business’s origin story. We’ll use this chronology as an example and demonstrate how the same origin story can be crafted in 3 distinct brand stories.

• Graduated community college with a degree in marketing in 2010Worked as a barista through high school and college, continued after college while searching for a job
• Started working for a local ad agency, first temping as a copywriter then eventually hired on full time in 2011
• Worked local til 2015 when moved to capitol of neighboring state, then hired by  a large company with corporate offices in that city
• Living in the big city is first time living without a roommate
• Worked as a junior copywriter for 5 years at Big Corporate til 2020; laid off in a round of COVID layoffs
• Spent 6 months looking for another corporate copywriting job, couldn’t find one that provided both desired salary AND better working conditions
• After 3 months thought about starting own copywriting business; after 6 months of job hunting decided to go for itStarted copywriting business in 2021
• Grew from 10 clients that first year to having 20 clients on retainer with 30+ one-off projects yearly
• Grown into a copywriting agency with 5 full-time employees

Mastering Logic: Strategic Storytelling with Logos

Your target audience is highly rational, data-driven, and carefully considers all possibilities before they make a purchase: your strongest brand story will use logos (logical appeal) to demonstrate why your business matters.

This is perhaps the only case where including the chronology of events will work for you rather than hinder your storytelling efforts. Brand stories using logos to appeal to their target audience need to present the facts of their origin as clearly and concisely as possible.

Step-by-step: guide the buyer

When editing your origin story into an effective brand story with logos, gather the objective data that supports your brand’s values and message to best persuade your potential client.

Imagine you offer copywriting services to CPAs who work with home daycare providers. The CPA considering your copywriting services doesn’t need an emotional appeal, the story of how the toxicity of your first corporate copy job led you to striking out on your own and starting your own copy studio. They will be persuaded by how you honed your copywriting skills at said corporate job, by the number of clients you have worked with since, by the revenue generated from your sales copy. Your brand story thus becomes the answer to the question that led your potential client to search for your services in the first place.

Emotional Resonance: Unlocking the Heart with Pathos

Your target audience is sensitive, passionate, prone to expressive language and florid metaphor: your strongest brand story will use pathos (emotional appeal) to demonstrate why your business is the best choice for them.

When combing through your origin story chronology, you’ll be best served by picking an emotionally charged moment and using it as the inciting incident that led to the creation of your brand. You can then illustrate the purpose and passion behind your work, and why your business is the clear choice.

Step-by-step: guide the buyer

Flex your creative writing muscle and use descriptive language to strong effect here. Describe the moment your “what if” turned into “why not” use descriptive language, sense memories, and evocative phrases that will put the reader – your potential buyer – in your shoes and drive home what you were feeling at that moment. 

Imagine you specialize in sales page and email sales sequence copywriting for online stationers and artists. This potential client wants to feel connected to you, to know that you “get them” and will be able to understand how to transform their artistic vision into language that sells. They will be most persuaded by the emotional impetus that led to you starting your business and how that singular moment grew into the business they see before them. 

Building Trust: Elevating Your Story With Ethos

Your target audience is intellectual, curious, and takes their time lending their loyalty to a brand, but when they do? They’re a devotee for life. Your strongest brand story will use ethos (appeal to credibility) to highlight why you are worthy of their trust.

Use your origin story chronology – and any tangents you may have noted – to craft a brand story that demonstrates your expertise and showcases your personality. Use the classic Hero’s Journey structure (the story starts, there is a challenge, the hero overcomes the challenge) for an easy structural guide for this type of brand story.

Step-by-step: guide the buyer

In many ways, ethos is the middle ground of logos and pathos: the appeal to the buyer is through the relationship forged between you and them, of the trust you’re able to cultivate through only your telling of the story of your brand.

Imagine your copywriting specifically offers content marketing writing for fitness pros. You started on your own in 2021, but you’ve grown your business into a fully-fledged agency with 5 full-time employees. Start the story with your decision to strike out on your own, highlight a key client or two that challenged you and led into your next evolution of your business, and button the brand story with your perspective on the state of content marketing for fitness pros. By using this structure along with some BTS commentary you’ll not only establish your expertise, you’ll develop rapport with your potential client and lay the first brick in a foundation of trust. 

Brand stories are the cultivated and curated version of your origin story.

Crafting a compelling brand story is not just about narrating the events that led to the birth of your business; it’s about shaping those events into a narrative that resonates with your audience on a deeper level. By leveraging Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion – logos, pathos, and ethos – you can transform your origin story into a powerful tool that not only captures attention but also compels action.

Through mastering logos, you can strategically structure your story to appeal to the rational minds of your audience. Presenting clear, concise data and evidence that highlight the value and impact of your business will strengthen your credibility and influence purchasing decisions.

Embracing pathos allows you to tap into the emotional core of your audience, connecting with them on a visceral level. By infusing your story with descriptive language and evocative imagery, you can evoke powerful emotions that resonate with the heart of your audience, forging a deep and lasting connection.

And finally, by building trust through ethos, you can establish yourself as a credible and trustworthy authority in your field. By sharing your expertise, showcasing your personality, and highlighting your journey of growth and evolution, you can instill confidence in your audience and inspire loyalty for years to come.

Love the concept and absolutely overwhelmed at the thought of starting? This is a key part of the Bold & Booked coaching and copywriting service. Together we redefine and realign the core of your business – your values, your signature service, and your meaningful message – to better market your do-it-different approach. Whether you’re looking to master logos, unlock the heart with pathos, or elevate your story with ethos, I’m here to guide you every step of the way.