How Storytelling Archetypes Work for Your Brand

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Brand storytelling is based on archetypes - and it works.

Brand storytelling is based on archetypes – and it works.

I bet you’ve been hearing about brand storytelling for a while now. Especially if you’re a small business owner on the lookout for new marketing tools to communicate your trade.

But it’s so frustrating to have to constantly keep up with new methods because there are so many new “miracle solutions” appearing on the marketing stage every day.

I have some good news for you. With storytelling, you don’t actually need to learn anything new. You’ve known all of this all along. Brand storytelling is simply the art of telling your own, authentic narrative, in a way that makes people want to be a part of the story.

And archetypes are a great means to creating this relatable and truthful story. They are characters or occurrences that are universally understandable across the globe. Their manifold meanings are deeply linked to the human subconscious, which gives them an unprecedented power.

The storytelling archetypes are as old as human communities are. And the best part is that when you start working on your own brand story, you don’t need to make up anything. The story most likely is just waiting for you.

You just have to find the connecting dots that will make it a part of the universally understandable story model. This means you need to work on relating emotionally to people through familiar patterns that catch the attention of the social animals that we all are.

So, what precisely do you need to have in a good story, so that your brand is intuitively understood by people?

You need a hero

Raven vs. Edgar Allan Poe (172/365)

Guess who our hero is…

Often referred to as the oldest archetype in human storytelling, the hero is a complete must. He embodies a set of perfect qualities that, within your brand story, are assigned either to your brand or to your customers.

The most common hero archetypes are twelve: 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. Each of them has some key traits that when used in the context of a brand, are automatically transferred to it. And some brands even go for more than one archetype.

Why does the hero story work so well, you wonder? Well, let’s face it, there is nothing sexier than heroism. It wins much more than hearts. 

The challenge emerges

But what is a hero without a challenge to prove his power and bravery? He shows hs fearlessness only in the face of perils.

There are a few options for the actual challenge that the hero decides to overcome. It can be battling a monster or another real antagonist, overcoming poorness and acquiring wealth and power, setting on a quest to reach a place or get an important object or, finally, just travelling to an unknown territory and returning, all the while overcoming any difficulties.

The key here is that the challenge seems unsurpassable for others, but the hero shows his strength and character already by taking on the responsibility to solve the situation. The more difficult it seems, the more spectacular the overcoming will be. Ultimately, the hero is mostly motivated by the wish to rescue those in need and pain and to restore peace and harmony in the story world.

So imagine how powerful your brand can be if you frame the challenges it solves in the right way. What is the real problem you tackle for your customers? How do you make their lives better by resolving their difficulties? Answering those questions will help you identify the challenge of your brand’s hero and tell an impactful story.

The journey

The hero’s journey is the evolution of your brand

The hero’s journey is an essential metaphor for change and progression without which the world would just stand still.

It relates to the so-called meta-plot of the story, which consist of a few archetypal stages that are all easily applicable in the brand story too. At first, the hero is called on duty – the challenge appears and he takes on the task on himself. Then comes the period of illusion, when seemingly success is not in doubt.

Soon enough, though, the hero needs to confront the enemy – real or metaphorical – and face the difficulties of reality. The climax stage is often the most dark part of the story, where he is about to give up. But only to win in the end, just like David won over Goliath. Overcoming is the rite of passage that makes the hero a hero.

While we might all have heard a hero journey story a million times, its power on us is far from lost. And that’s what brands can benefit from. Just plug in your brand and its audience in this storytelling framework, and go wild.


The archetypal elements of a story make a complete piece that seems linear, with clear beginning and ending. But brands need a cyclical narrative because their stories don’t need any endings: they need constant renewals.

And this is something you should keep working on with your brand story. After the hero has taken on the challenge, pursued the journey and has overcome all difficulties, you need to show how the world and he himself, that is, your brand, have changed. This presents the continuity of the brand, or how life continues afterwards in a much better, for your business and for your customers.

The renewal element might be a tricky one to come up with, but it can be a piece of cake for small companies. As they are so close to their customers, there is constant feedback from reality that immediately feeds into the renewal loop. Challenges appear regularly and the brand hero just needs to adapt – and find ever more innovative ways to bring peace and satisfaction in the world of its customers.

What is your experience with telling the story of your brand? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section – and other small businesses will find it useful too!


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