Using the classic story structure to define your brand

P4T Episode 4: Using the classic story structure to define your brand
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We’re all hard wired to understand stories, it’s part of what makes us human. But the key ingredients of a great story can be useful far beyond a screen play. Defining them at a brand level can also be invaluable in building an effective content strategy and engaging with audiences. This episode looks at how to build a story arc for your brand that clarifies your message and sharpens your appeal within your target audience.

Evelyn Timson


Storytelling, storytelling, storytelling. You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it countless times again.


But why is it such a marketing buzz word? And why do people keep banging on about it?

Well here’s the thing - we’re all hard wired to “get” stories, it is part of what makes us human. And because we’ve been telling them for an awful long time, the patterns they contain are super easy for us to digest. Our brains recognise and anticipate the next step and naturally want to complete the story.


But the classic story structure is not just useful for creating content, it can also be invaluable in defining your brand and how you talk to your audience.


In this video we’ll look at the 6 key narrative steps in storytelling and show you just how useful they can be, whether you are writing the film saga of the century or trying to define how your brand speaks to its audience.


Ingredient number one…. is the Hero. Every story needs one and for you it’s your audience. But you need to be very singular about who you’re targeting. To really create a feeling in your audience, we need to empathise with our hero and that only happens if we really understand who they are and what they really want. This cannot be vague, what they want has to be specific:


For example:  Luke Skywalker wants to become a Jedi knight!


Or to an example that’s a bit it more down to earth…


A Dove customer wants to feel beautiful in their own skin.


Understanding the goal and identifying the internal desire that’s driving your hero, will give your brand’s story a powerful hook.


But that hook needs our second ingredient. A problem.


It doesn’t have to be a personified villain like Darth Vadar, but your story must include problems your hero wants to overcome. It’s only in addressing these, that the character can achieve their goal.


For Dove the problem their hero has is an unrealistic image of beauty. And in Star Wars Luke cannot not see a way to leave his home and be part of something bigger.


Next is where your brand comes in. Your role in the story is as your Hero’s guide. You are Obi Wan. You need to provide the tools, the insight, the inspiration, and a way forward for your hero.


For Dove, they are saying to their Hero: We recognize the problem, but we also recognize what real beauty is. And Obi Wan is emphasizing with Luke’s feelings in a way his adopted parents just can’t.


But that’s not enough, the guide needs to give the Hero a plan. A call to action that is a road map to change. The plan shows the expertise and authority of the guide and gives practical steppingstones for the hero to follow.


For Luke, Obi Wan gave him a very simple plan. Come with me to Alderan and join the rebellion. For Dove’s audience it was as straightforward as Join this movement!


As storytellers we need to give our Hero compelling reasons to take action, and that’s where our last two ingredients come in. First we need to embrace the risk of Failure


Behavioral economics show that people are two to three times more motivated by fear of loss, than a potential gain. Without just a sprinkle of fear, your story lacks the stakes that’ll compel the viewer to care. So ask yourself, what negative consequences are you helping customers avoid? Could they lose money or time? Or to look at it another way, what is the cost of not following the guide?


Dove reminds their audience of how damaging negative perceptions of self can be, while Obi Wan tells Luke that without his help Leia will die.


But we need to balance the negative by painting a picture of an achievable future


How will the customer’s world change? The ending of your story intrinsically links to it’s beginning. How will this resolution meet and yet also exceed expectations?


Think about what you’ll help your customers achieve?


So whether you’re celebrating the destruction of a death star or painting a picture of what self-acceptance and positive self-image looks like, the ending shows us the promised land, it closes the loop and resolves the hero’s external and internal desires.


And with that, the circle is complete, by using the classic storytelling structure you can master your brands destiny with a clear idea of how to speak to your audience, how to engage with them and take them on a journey they’ll never forget.


Thanks for watching…


  • ELF 

  • Matilda 

  • Harry Potter

  • Charlie Chaplin

  • Citizen Kane 

  • King Kong

  • Gladiator 

  • Toy Story 

  • Titanic 

  • Wizard Of Oz 

  • Nemo 

  • Star Wars 

  • Dove Advertisements 


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P4T E4: : Using the classic story structure to define your brand

Using the classic story structure to define your brand


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