Amber Williams is the founder of Punkyflair, a brand story shop that serves beauty, fashion, and lifestyle startups. Building iconic statement-making brands is her jam, and she is committed to helping businesses grow authentically through a story.
Through Punkyflair, Amber has positioned new businesses in the marketplace, molded magnetic personalities, crafted money-making narratives, and named global product collections for leading brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Shea Radiance, and Marjani.
Amber Williams connects young brands to the customers they want to reach through a story. She believes that story is the most critical business asset for one simple reason: it can’t be duplicated.
It is the key to building a brand that will withstand the test of time and last forever.
In this interview, she discusses how you can best understand your audience, communicate your vision, and sell with a story.
Tell us how and why you started Punkyflair
My early career was spent in corporate America where I used my formal training in psychology and integrated marketing to create and launch brand strategies for companies like Armani Exchange, Volkswagen, The United States Olympic Committee, and Feeding America.
I was working within a world of limitless resources and possibilities in marketing. I had the freedom to be creative, spend however much was needed, and most importantly – test the water.
After several years of implementing creative brand marketing campaigns, I realized that my signature approach to every strategy I created was rooted in a story.
Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story. Inadvertently, I used my knack for writing and understanding of human behavior to put words together that would sell clothing, jewelry, cars, and even promote funds for world-renowned athletes.
I was a storyteller. At 29, I decided that I would package up my approach and all of my corporate learnings into a framework that would help startups launch and grow their businesses.
I created Punkyflair to empower entrepreneurs with the tools, training and thinking necessary to understand their audience, communicate their vision, and sell with the story.
Today, I have the good fortune of doing so for leading woman-owned brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Marjani, BLK+GRN, and Shea Radiance.
What is brand storytelling and where does it fit in marketing strategy?
Simply put, brand storytelling is a method for connection. If you consider your favorite storybook or movie, there is most likely a character in it that resonates most with you.
Maybe it’s because you see yourself in them. Perhaps it’s because that character represents who you want to be. All great stories make you look at yourself and consider how you connect to the tale being told. Brand storytelling is no different.
A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives. When done well, your brand provides the perfect reflection for who they already are but better. Brand storytelling is the most effective, non-salesly way to build meaningful and profitable relationships with the customers you want to reach.
How can businesses effectively explore the core elements that make up their customer profile?
All businesses should view their customers as the star characters in their brand story. Everything that your brand does–from operations to product innovation and marketing–should be built around your customer. It always amazes me how many entrepreneurs are willing to skip this essential first step.
A strong customer profile is made up of three key elements: perspective, preference, and personality. Understanding your customer’s perspective is all about figuring out where your customer is coming from, the unique challenges they face, and what they really want from your brand.
The next step is to discover what your customer prefers by digging deep to understand purchase motivators and where your brand solution fits into their lives. Finally, you’ll want to explore your customer’s personality traits.
Doing so will help you tailor your messaging in a way that gets the people you want to reach to listen and buy from you.
As they discover their customers, how do businesses determine the best approach in talking to their audience?
Now that you know more about your customers, you’ll want to speak to them in a language that they understand. The best approach is first to visualize precisely who this person is. Bringing the person you want to reach to life humanizes your communication.
It brings back the reality that you, as the brand, are talking to a real person. When working to craft your narrative, ask yourself these four questions:
- Why does my brand exist?
- What problem do we solve for our customers?
- What values or beliefs do we stand on as a business?
- How do our products/services make our customers’ lives better?
The answers to these questions make up your core brand narrative, letting your customers know exactly why they should trust and buy from you. Plaster them everywhere (tactfully of course)!
As businesses increasingly incorporate storytelling in marketing strategy, how can “Motherland Moguls” craft a brand story that yields customer action?
The marketplace is getting extremely crowded! It’s never been harder to cut through the clutter than it is now. Customers are continuously bombarded with marketing messages and brands are spending a significant amount of money just to stay visible.
In this landscape, the challenge lies in not only being seen, but in making money also. The best way that Motherland Moguls can yield a favorable action from their target customers is to keep a pulse on their customers’ wants and needs.
Don’t get too caught up in the competition and what they’re doing. Always remember that people are buying from your brand for a reason. Serve them and then explore what else you can create to serve them again. Be authentic and tell the story only you can sell.
What’s your go-to advice to a business owner trying to instill more brand storytelling?
My go-to advice is simple: take yourself out of it. Simple, right? The #1 thing you must do to grow your brand and instill more storytelling is to get yourself out of it.
Sure, you are the founder and mastermind behind the business. It was your sweat equity and creativity that launched the brand. You identified a problem and created a solution. It’s your baby. I get it.
However, if you want your baby to grow, you have to move out the way and tell a story in your marketing that centers around the customer, not yourself. Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves.
Make your story a two-way dialogue, not a diatribe about your own journey. Spend some time understanding what matters to your people: what values they hold, what additional problems they face, what viewpoints they have on the world and your industry. Create stories from the deeper emotional layers that (above all else) truly connect customers to brands.
What product and service offering do you have in the works to help rising entrepreneurs with brand storytelling?
I recently released Customer Kamikaze. my 3-part customer discovery framework. It’s the exact same framework I’ve used to help my startup clients scale their businesses (some into the millions) by understanding their customers and building their brand stories around them.
People love it because it’s self-paced and fun! The exercises are intuitive, simple and impactful. Also, the result, once the framework is applied, is far higher than the minimal cost of the product.
I wanted to create something super affordable, even for early-stage entrepreneurs, but something that would have a tremendous impact and set the tone for a brand story that sells.
What are you most excited about at the moment, and what are you working on next?
I’m most excited about my next chapter! I want to move in a direction that allows me to help multiple entrepreneurs at once. This fall, I’ll be speaking more and even playing around with group coaching and live workshops.
Brand story is a concept that I absolutely love teaching and one that I love to see entrepreneurs benefit.
Amber Williams is offering a free audio training on building lasting brands. Contact her here.
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