Storytelling is in vogue, a phrase which here means ‘brands and agencies are all talking about it without taking due time to appreciate what it means’. Done right, brand storytelling is indispensable as a framework for telling authentic messages in a way that resonates with the consumer.
As it stands, it’s a nebulous catch-all term that lets anything said or written about you, be it on Twitter, a YouTube comments section, a local news feature – all be construed as a part of your de-facto story, leaving you with little control of the narrative. So how do you take it back?
Direct your own narrative. Develop a story so memorable that it defines your brand – something compelling, entertaining, and undeniably you. A story that warrants undying loyalty and one that, just for a moment, makes everyone forget you’re a brand. Sure, this is typically the realm of bestselling novels and film franchises, but what have novelists and Hollywood got that you haven’t?
The hero’s journey
Star Wars, Toy Story, The Lord of the Rings, Die Hard and the rest of your favourite film franchises all have something in common, along with a good proportion of the myths, fables, and fairytales you read at school. It’s the hero’s journey.
Put forward by comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell in his 1949 Hero with a Thousand Faces, and adopted later by George Lucas, Pixar and many more, the theory posits a universal formula for a story that resonates with our collective unconscious. Dan Harmon (creator of Rick and Morty and Community) has since simplified the theory into eight steps, which I’ve illustrated here using Toy Story: