Do “Branding” and “Ministry” Go Together?

Much of our work at Vaughn Street is helping authors and speakers build an authentic personal brand.

Branding isn’t a bad word. We define it as simply the public expression of your calling.

As one pastor recently told me after reading my book,

“We’re the only category of public leader who doesn’t think we have a brand!


Clients love Vaughn Street’s in-person strategy sessions, but we wanted a way to help more people.

So last year I tried an experiment… I wrote a book about branding, and offered it at a conference where I spoke. Scary, right?

The response was amazing. I sold out of books, and sales doubled over the next two months. (By the way, to further test the value of the content, I didn’t even have the book available on web or Amazon. All the post-conference sales were from referrals!)

Besides being a pretty cool way to test an idea, the feedback gave us confidence that this process would work for others – in book and video formats.

So here it is!

Your Brand Is Calling 

  • Does your brand reflect your story?
  • Is your personal brand moving you toward your goals?
  • Will your brand connect you with the people you’re called to serve?

This book and video course, will help you build your personal brand with confidence in 30 days!  The practical process will help you reach more people in less time, and give you clearer guidelines on all expressions of your personal brand (web, logo, photography,writing voice, and more).


The book:

$11.99 including shipping


The video course:

Regularly $199, but now – only $99

– and includes a review of your brand!

Weird Ways to Find Your Writing Voice

We all have a speaking voice – and we all have a writing voice. Whether you’re a bestselling author, new blogger, or send an occasional email, there’s a tone and feel to our written words which goes way beyond the text.

In my experience, as an editor and agent, I often coach new authors about “finding their voice.” But what does this really mean?

We tend to write differently than we talk, and that’s not a bad thing. The spoken word and written word are very different mediums. But many writers fall into the trap of “this is how good writers are supposed to write.” So they put on their writers hat and are transformed into communicating like a different person.

Writing has a sound

You have a unique voice. Here are 7 ways to develop yours.


1.   Write a lot. Write until your brain is so crispy that you stop carefully filtering your words.


2.   When you read back your unfiltered writing, go easy on yourself. There are bits of your true voice in there! Pull these nuggets out and polish them. Look for the positives.


3.   Find a few people who know you very well, and let them read your writing – with one question in mind: Does this sound like me?


4.   Read your words out loud. How does it feel? Do you find yourself writing words that you never speak?


5.   Ignore rules. Don’t be intimated by grammar – be in awe of the power of words. Try stuff. (The truth is – there are no rules!)


6.   Jabberwocky! (see #5 above)


7.   Pay attention to your live conversations. What feels most true to you – and what resonates most deeply with others – is it your storytelling? Humor? Directness? What traits of your in-person interactions should be intentionally expressed in your writing?


When I meet with an author for the first time, I’m always curious if meeting them in 3D will be different than meeting them through their writing.

In finding your writing voice, your goal is to bring seamlessness between spoken and written expression.

Let people hear the real you – through your written words.

What helps YOU find your voice?

The Power of a Brand Video

Last week we had the privilege of helping a client with their brand video.

Any time we are launching a new website or building a new brand message we love doing it with a well done video message. Clients rave about going through our branding process…as it ends up being so revolutionary to who they are as much as it is about their message.

Video as we all know gets viewed by more folks than any written content as long as it is short enough to be viewed. I will caution you to not try to do a brand video on your own. Getting outside perspective and nailing down all the message points is wise. Having to go back and fix a bad video is more harmful than spending money upfront on getting it right.

With my wife Julie having a few years interning at CNN, she is very well versed at asking all the right questions. In addition to that, we had one of our favorite video team members from Vaughn Street with us, Erik Ticen- who always captures all the right content.

Having been in the public relations field for more than 15 years, we believe in what we do for clients. We want to help people tell their story and do it professionally and with excellence. Here are a few tips for branding that can help you going forward:


  •    Develop a brand that captures market share in a new space in a new way
  •    Be original to who you are, not an echo to something someone else is already doing
  •    Get a team around you who offers input and doesn’t say yes to everything you want to do
  •    Know the difference between who you are and who you think you are – many times your brand is found somewhere in the middle.
  •    Know your competition and what they are not doing well


If you have any burning questions on branding please give us a shout and we will be glad to answer them.

Stop Letting Your Book Boss You Around

Many authors pour all their time and energy into making sure their book,
especially first book, is a success.

What’s the problem with that, Mike?

Well, books come and go.  In five years, this book will be a memory, and at
best, a nice backlist title. But if your book doesn’t elevate your platform
and strengthen your brand, the priorities are mixed up.

In other words, you can use all your energy, empty your bank of favors, and
tap your network to raise awareness about BUYING this book, OR – use this
book to raise awareness about YOU and elevate your brand influence.

This assumes that the book is aligned with where you WANT your brand to go – (see Does Your Brand Freak You Out)

Your brand is the center of attention – not your book!

Send your book out on an AUTHOR tour – Don’t send yourself out on a book tour.

Send your book out on a secret mission to tell other influencers about YOU!

Don’t focus all your time trying to hook people into buying your book – Send
your book on a mission to hook more people to your voice.

If people are interested in YOU, they are more likely to buy your book (and
connect with you for speaking, paid work, etc.)

After the book celebrates its first birthday, will you be most happy with
book sales, OR how the book grew your platform, influence, and

Book launches are important!  But I’ve seen plenty of authors spend all
their emotional and social capital serving their book, which is but a vapor.
And at the end of it all, they used up all their “asks” – instead of using
it as an opportunity to get to the next level.

Just remember who’s boss…  You!

(Have you felt bossed around by your book? How did you set things right?)

Why LinkedIn for Ministry Leaders?

Why would I ever care about LinkedIn?

I hear this a lot. Here’s my basic response to skeptics or newbies:

Think of LinkedIn as Facebook without a sense of humor…

LINK: I use it to connect (and get on the radar) with potential clients and creative peers. I’ve made some great business connections this way.

POSITION: For example, making sure people KNOW you are a writer, speaker, or thought leader on _______. It’s SO important to position yourself CONFIDENTLY, CREDIBLY, and CLEARLY.

Your personal brand must be represented in the PHOTO you choose, and articulated clearly in your HEADLINE. After your brand photo and headline are established, it’s time to start connecting with others.

BE A PRO: Watch for the occasional emails from LinkedIn offering a 30 day free Premium membership, and use this offer to its fullest potential (cancel at day 29 if you’d like, but the features might be worthwhile for you). You’ll be able to find, message, and connect with VIP’s in your arena with this expanded access.

SEARCH: LinkedIn has a great “advanced search” function that really helps target best connections (by city, company, expertise, etc.) and the Premium account give you access to more features like “InMail” which allow you to message people, and include your web site in the message.

(Another question I often get is, “Why do you so many ALL CAPS?” …)

You only get one chance at a first impression, so make sure your BRAND and VALUE PROPOSITION are clear (what you offer and why you’re awesome), then you can confidently connect with new prospects.

NO SOLICITING: “Selling” is frowned upon in LinkedIn-ville. This is about building win-win business relationships. Your connection requests should have more than just the default text (“I’d like to add you…”) and NOT feel like a sales pitch.

Take time to learn about the person you’d like to connect with. Be creative, thoughtful, and generous in your connection requests.

GROUPS: This may be the best part of LinkedIn! Much like Facebook groups, they let you connect on a more conversational level.

WEB: Don’t forget to add the LinkedIn icon/link to your web site. Some people actually prefer connecting this way.

LinkedIn is a way to “Position” yourself in a way that’s attractive to peers and potential clients.

Take some time to look around, get your profile polished, and dive in.

(Or contact me for help in developing your brand on all social outlets!)


Photo courtesy of LinkedIn

New Domain Extensions to Watch

Categories:Street Stories Blog

There are many new domain extensions being released this year.

Some of these alternatives to “.com” and “.org” might be great for you and your organization…









Go to your preferred domain provider to find out about release dates, and the opportunity to RESERVE a domain with a new extensions

Let us know how you’re using these!


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