When telling the story of brand storytelling, there is no better way to show its depths than splitting its atoms.
That’s how we humans investigate new things. We rip them apart, see their insides, and then close them for further use, convinced of their usefulness. Blame it on curiosity!
We’ve long discovered the internal logic of storytelling. After all, this communication plus survival mechanism has been with us for quite a while.
The stages in a brand story are strongly archetypal, so it’s no wonder that they have such a powerful neurochemical and thus psychological effect on us. We crave stories; we live and re-live them – and dream them. Each one of the story stages presents a different treat to our brains that they can munch on happily.
So how do people engage with each stage of the brand story?
The Status Quo and the Challenge
In the beginning of every brand story, there is the status quo that the cool new kid on the block, namely your business, wants to change with your great products or services. We talk about paradigm shifting, even on the micro level.
While people tend to stick to the known, the adventurer in each of us gets hooked on the innovation vibe once we see that somebody is doing it, and doing it well. The challenging of the existing order appeals to the rebel in us. And that’s where your quest to alter the status quo grabs your potential customers.
Plus, showing your passion for what you do wins people seamlessly because they simply trust somebody with a zest for his own business. It shows that you’re in it for much more than the cash.
The Hero (and his helpers)
When you’re crafting your brand story, the Hero can take various forms. In some cases, it’s most appropriate to appoint your customer as the Hero, who, by using your product or service, achieves a much needed breakthrough for the sake of her community, business or personal life. In other cases, the Hero is your brand, which shows your business is made of flesh and bone. Then every step this powerful character takes is a manifestation of the qualities and benefits of your brand.
It’s not accidental that the Hero’s Journey is the longest standing monomyth in storytelling. We love strong and charismatic people who take charge and lead the change. Whether you invite your customers to take this role, or you shape your brand as the heroic figure, people feel empowered and strongly supported by a faithful helper.
Among the most common storytelling archetypes, you can find the Hero being the magician, the outlaw, the jester, the lover, the citizen, the nurturer, the ruler, the creator, the innocent, the sage, the champion and the explorer. Plenty of choices to match the personality of your brand!
The Journey and the Overcoming
Every good story offers an engaging path that the main characters need to take. That’s the Hero’s Journey that culminates with great obstacles, ultimately to be overcome by the Hero. But here the trick is not to focus on the overcoming. Travelling the road is what hooks people to your brand story.
Whether you tell the story of your own business’s path, or you have the customer as the focal point, the journey either of these takes is what matters because it offers a truly transformative opportunity. People fear change, but they also love it and need it like fresh air. When you offer proper support during this path of changing, or you simply show how your brand threads on this path steadily, they feel more at ease to start the journey, or embrace the brand.
In practical terms, this means that when you’re following the Hero on his journey to overcome all obstacles, you keep people hooked with suspense, just enough tension to keep them going. Just look at cinematography. It’s all about not giving away all details at once.
The greatest stories ever told leave some ends open. Yes, definite solutions are needed because they lead a narrative to a much needed culmination. But not everything has to be clear and set in stone. That’s how you leave space for renewal to happen; and for people to stay interested in what you have to share.
And the same goes for your brand story. When you’ve walked the walk with the brand Hero or the customer as the Hero, you’ve closed a circle, but you have not reached the ending of your story. Because the story in not linear, but cyclical.
There are always new challenges to be taken on by the brand, or by its customers. When you show this continuity and readiness for action, especially after a full exciting story round with your brand, people can easily get enthused again to join in – or marvel at the cool narrative.
Your very own brand story, and its stages
Knowing how something works helps us understand its benefits. This goes for both you appreciating the power of brand storytelling – and your customers appreciating your business by learning and becoming a part of its authentic narrative.
If you’re wondering where to start with the stages of your own brand story, why not try Edgar’s Detective Brand Story Canvas? I promise it’s fun. Add a mojito and you have a storytelling party.
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