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Peeling away the Layers to Get to your Brand Story with Shannon Peel

A conversation with Shannon Peel | Audio Interview | Video Interview 

Peeling away the Layers to Get to your Brand Story with Shannon Peel

I have Shannon Peel with us today, and we are going to be talking about peeling away the layers to get to the core of your brand story. And yes, that Peel is spelled P-E-E-L in both cases because it's a clever play on worth. Or I thought it was clever. But anyway, Shannon, she's going to be talking with us about just the importance of brand storytelling and how you get to putting that story together. So, Shannon, please introduce yourself.

Okay. Well, my name is Shannon Peel and I have a company called MarketAPeel because that's my job. I help brands gain market appeal in there with their audiences to attract customers and guide them from brand awareness to becoming customers through brand story. 

Well, I think that's extremely important because this is actually one of the things that I've had to really learn and embrace, which is that even if you're in a business to business type of situation, like what my business is, you are still ultimately influencing people and people get influenced by stories. And so figuring out what the story is that you tell is really important. The part that I'm still really just mentally and just practically working on putting together is how do you translate that story into your whole string and portfolio of marketing and advertising collateral? It's that bridge, at least, that I have been struggling with. I don't know if you've experienced that with other people or if other people fumble with that as well. But I know that's one of the parts that I've always then I'm still really kind of working on getting put together. And I suppose in a way, it's probably sort of like it's never really done because you're always going to be augmenting your story and your brand. But what are some of the things you've seen and what's in your advice for people who are in that situation where they're trying to finish solidifying their story and then turn it into collateral that they can use to go and take out to the market? 

Well, what you're talking about is story confusion or brand confusion is more the correct term because you start talking about this thing over there and then another push with that over there and then another push, check with that over there. And before you know it, your people that are following you are asking you what is it that you do anyway? I've been following you, but I don't know exactly what it is that you do. How can you help me? And that happens when our story is fractured and that happens because social media is sound bites. And a lot of times we're trying to create content that people will engage with looking for those vanity matrix instead of telling our story. So we may print a quote. I do this, too. Don't get me wrong, I do it as well. 

I was going to say, yeah, I'm like everybody else. I go into Canva and I write cool stuff down and then export it and pop it up on Instagram.

That's right. We all do it. We all do it because we need content. We need to show up. And there are ways to ensure that you're still on brand, even though you might be using a motivational quote, or perhaps you post a video that you found on YouTube that you think is really cool. It all comes down to knowing your core story. What are your core values? What do you want to be known for? On my podcast, the first question I ask everyone is what do you want to be known for? Because that is the core of your story. That becomes the core of your story. And everything that you create touches on that core. So let's say you have a value to be an independent person. You're independent. That's your value. Now you can share quotes about independence. You can talk about the importance of being an independent person. You can talk about how entrepreneurs are independent. Now you would get to be known as an independent person, because maybe on Mondays you talk about independence. If you look at the one thing that you really enjoy doing. So there's two ways of doing it. So I look at the big what do I do? I do brand storytelling, which is the big topic theme. Yes. There's a lot of things in there. So that's the what I do. I don't get into the how so much, because if I got into the how, people would get confused. That was boring. It's not just that because people go, well, what is it that you do? Because I know that you do websites. I know that you do digital magazines, you do social media, you do podcasts, you do story coaching, you do publicity. And then you help people write their books. By the time they're done listed out, they're confused as to the how and what are we going to do. 

What happens is business owners or people that think they need a brand, they start looking for these specialists that do these specific things because they've got their brand story in their mind.

They kind of like, oh, I need a website, so I'm just going to get a website. There's no plan around it. It's just I need a website or I need to be on Facebook because somebody told me I need to be on Facebook. So I'm going to get somebody that knows Facebook and they're going to do Facebook. But there's real no, there might be a content plan around that, but that content plan isn't connected to what you're doing on LinkedIn or it's not connected to your blog on your website, or it's not connected to the publicity that you do by being on podcast or being interviewed by reporters. Right? So what I do is I start at the top. I'm the one that overlooks all of that. So I work very closely with people who want to be known in the marketplace. They want to write a book, they want to be a speaker, but they just need someone that can help them create this strategy as to where they're supposed to be and how they're supposed to be there. And I have various levels that I get engaged with that. But I'm talking about the what? So I talk about Brand story. So if you can figure out what your what is. Yeah, you can talk about that. The other piece is talking about the why. Why your purpose? What is your purpose? What is your reason for being?

I was going to say this is like hinging into therapy almost.

I do a lot of that in the coaching process. So if you're talking about your core values, which you really have to understand those core values, you can't just pick five. That sound good. When I work with people to figure out what their values are, they know exactly why they have those values and where they can.

Five words that all start with the same letter.

That's probably not going to be the right value. Yeah, but then you're what? That's the result. That's the thing that people come to you for. What problem do you solve? So if you're talking about what problem you solve, you don't really have to talk about the solution. But you talk about the problem. By sharing content that you find of that problem, maybe a news story about someone that's going through that problem. You talk about why that problem, why people struggle with that problem. So in my case, I may talk about why people's audiences don't know what they do. Right. So I'm talking about story fracturing and the sound bite of social media or the shiny object syndrome that gets people going from this thing to that thing to this thing and confuses their story. So that's the problems like, oh, I'm not getting clients. Why aren't you getting clients? Why are clients saying, I don't know what you do? I can talk about that, but it all hinges around the core. So you have to really know that core story. 

Okay, let's unpack the idea of the core story a little more. Because of course. Right. The core story, I would assume, is really going to be around the why. Because that's going to be more engaging. Because you're talking about why you want to address a certain problem is going to be way more engaging than talking about what the problem is, or at least that's what I would think. Let me know your thoughts here.

Well, it depends on what your why is. I guess I focus first on values because a value based story will attract other people with the same values. 

It's an easy story to tell, and it's an easy way for your audience to identify with you based on their value Set.

And you end up with clients who have the same value set. And it's always easier to deal with people who have the same values as you do. The difference between the what and the why is the purpose. So when you're talking about your purpose for being your purpose for living, what you're talking about is why are you in business? Why did you choose this business? I may talk about why I love stories that I have always loved story. Or the stories I used to write as a kid or the stories I used to write or read in high school, or why I decided to not go into journalism, or why I decided not to go into be a writer right out of University, or my story about how I became a writer when I finally decided to live within my purpose. So that's the why. But it's all around being a writer and brown storytelling. If you talk about your what, I help you do this, and then I'll talk about the problems that I solve.

You have to know that core story and understand who you are. It's all about who you are.

Well, and I was going to say, when I grew up, I hung out at the nerd table. So I kind of think about this in terms of like, say, Marvel, DC, comic book terms. And so it's like the way that I would always think about it. The why is the character backstory and then the what is like their superpower, for example, the Magneto's why is that he grew up in the Nazi concentration camps and was emotionally scarred when his mother was killed in front of him to try to unlock his power. And then, of course, his power is, of course, being able to bend and manipulate metal with his mind. 

Exactly. I think that you have hit the nail on the head there, because as a great analogy as to what I'm talking about, because you're right. The why is the reason. The what is the is long run. The how what do they do? But now it's the value system that's the only piece that you're missing is that value system. And that's in the origin story as well. Yeah. If you think of Magneto and his values were skewed due to his experience with them. 

Exactly. Because we have Magneto's value system is driven by anger, whereas Peter Parker's value system is Spiderman is driven by he feels like he's a regular guy from Queens and he wants to help out all the other regular people in Queens. 

Well, there's a little bit deeper in that. If you think about the fact that his uncle said with great response, power comes great responsibility. So he's got this guilt complex as well. And his value about being responsible comes from that situation. And that's why you just totally schooled me on Spiderman. And it's funny. It's kind of funny because I've gotten very long conversations with my daughter about how I like how I personally prefer the Toby Maguire Spiderman series over the Tom Holland. Precisely because of Uncle Ben. Because they completely went past the entire genesis of the Peter Parker character. Because the Uncle Ben Park in the first Spiderman is what sets the stage for everything else. But anyway, I'm digressing here.

And that's why understanding the story. That's why story structure is so important. Because we can't understand what motivates Peter Parker to be Spiderman if we don't understand the origin of the origin story gets bit by the Spider. But that sent that value, that value of responsibility, that value to go out and be responsible. Because he's got all this power that comes from the moment his uncle died. Yes. Right. That's why that's so important. What is your Uncle Ben's? Uncle Ben. 

Yeah, exactly. Am I somewhat juvenile way of processing information? I think of it in terms of, like, a comic book backstory.

I got no problem with that. I'm visiting my brother this week in Whistler, and my six year old nephew has been watching Spiderman. So I've been getting caught up on all the Spiderman there. He's six, so it's all in cartoon form, but, I mean, there's a black Spiderman now. I didn't even know there was different girl Spiderman comic Spiderman.

 Yeah, exactly. You have Miles Morales. Jessica Drew. Yeah, Jessica Drew. Jessica Jones is the reporterist. 

I have no idea. I haven't watched all of the most recent action adventures of Spider Man. But I am a geek at heart. I like my superhero story. I really like my superhero stories. And I'm not a romcom person. I got no time for romance novels or romcom. But give me a good superhero story or a really great bloody fantasy quest type story. 

One of the things that I like about the superheroes is that I think the superhero backstory, at least to me and Marvel is, I think, really great at this. The superhero backstory is what really makes them interesting. And so I'm turning this into a complete allegory for your business. And if I'm butchering what you do, please just stop me in my tracks. But you've got me geeking out. And so I'm just going to keep rolling with it here. But like, for example, I know a little while ago my wife and I were watching the Daredevil series on Netflix. And I think Daredevil and Matt Murdoch is another really good example, too, which is where, of course, his dad was a boxer, but his dad was a boxer who laid down in exchange for getting paid off by the mob. But then at some point, he decided he wasn't going to lay down anymore. And then he ended up getting killed. So then Matt, who, of course, is blind but has accentuated senses the proverbial radar sense. He ends up being a lawyer who's also a vigilante, but he's also devoutly Catholic. He breaks the law, but he doesn't kill people. What I really like about kind of the superhero type of backstory is that you have kind of these contradictory dichotomies that all kind of play out inside the character. What I hear you saying is that a really good brand story is going to bring that out in a way that not just explains what you do, but why you do it and how you got to where you are right now. 

Exactly. I call them brand origin stories.

Yes, precisely.

I share people's origin stories on my site because what I'm building is a platform where people can come and tell their brand stories, experience brand stories, and learn about how to craft their own brand story. And it's a multimedia platform because it's the website with the blog, it's the podcast, it's the video, it's the digital magazine that then brings all of those pieces together on topics. So if you just want to know about a certain topic, like there's one right now on decision making. Right. So everything that all these stories that I gather, those ones that have to do with decision making go into the decision making magazine. So if somebody is interested in decision making and learning how to make better decisions to create an appealing life, career or business, it would go to the appealing magazine on decision making and there'll be all this information to help them learn how to make better decisions. 

Got it. Okay, well, let's see. I think we're getting a little short on time, but I still want to get a few more nuggets of wisdom out. Let's just kind of pivot a little bit. And let's say you're talking with somebody who say they're transitioning out of a corporate career. I say this because a part of my origin story is in April 2020, I was about 20 years into a career in tech. New chief information officer came in, cleared out the old guys, people, and I was number one on the list. So I got the half hour meeting notice with no subject, and then I got informed my network access is being shut off. And I just hit the ground right at the beginning of the covid Pandemic, right. Yeah. I know that was not awesome. But you work your way through these things. And so if somebody's coming to a situation like that or maybe even they're deciding that they want to start venturing out into where they are going to be building their own brand, what would you say? What is the best first thing for them to do? 

Figure out your values, what you're going to offer?

That was just so easy. It feels like there should have been more. 

I know you're looking for something more. 

I feel like there needs to be more mental anguish. Okay. Try and figure out your real values and where they came from. You'll have mental anguish, but that's where I start. Other people there are other places that you can start as well. Like what is your skill set? But what you're really coming down to is what do you want to be known for? And that's a hard question to answer because what you think you want to be known for and what your real purpose? You have to know what your purpose is. What is your real purpose in life? And my brand story does have that story in it where I had to lose everything I was scared to lose so I could find my purpose. It was very difficult

Yeah, that sounds like it.

My middle class lifestyle, my marriage, my job, everything gone one after another, my house, homeownership. Then my kids moved out. So all of these things happened.

Like those big line of Domino's where you push one and they all just fall down.

Yeah. But basically what life was doing is it kept taking something, trying to get me to wake up. And stop living day to day, stop living the life that other people gave me and start living the life that I was meant to live. But I was so focused on my children and my husband and then my children and my job and then my children. And so then there was nothing else but me to focus on because I was all alone. And that's what it took for me to say, okay, what is my real purpose in life? What is it that I really am here to do? And once you figure that out, then you can figure out what your brand is and what your story is. But you then have to figure out how you're going to structure that story. We could sit here and I could tell you my brand story, that whole lost story, and you would feel nothing but pity for me. Or I could tell you that story and you would laugh your head off. It's all in how we tell the story. 

Yeah, that's powerful. Well, I was going to say, I think now is as good a time as any. Where can people find out more? We've got that anticipation, that pull built in. So now let's drive people to your website so they can connect and work with you to build their brand story.

Not a problem if they want to know anything about it. It comes to marketapeel.com and it's spelled marketapeel.com now. MarketAPeel membership is free, and you have access to some courses that will give you step by step instructions to get you started on building up that digital footprint and telling your brand story as well. There's lots of information about how to create a brand story. There's some digital magazines there to help with brand stories in there for stories to motivate you, inspire you, find solutions to the problems you're having. Because other people have shared that story. So there's a lot there for you and it won't cost you anything. But if you want to work with me. That's all there as well. 

Got you. Well, I really appreciate your time, Shannon sounds amazing and given me a lot to think about myself.

It's your story. But yeah, we don't always know what our story is.

Exactly. Well, Shannon, hope you have a wonderful day and everybody listen hope you have a great day also.

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