Tell me a (brand) story

The rumours of an impending trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi have sent a ripple of excitement through the London office. I think I heard the  biggest cheers from the digital and production teams…

The world’s most famous space opera is one of the highest grossing and longest spanning movie serials of all time. So what lies at the heart of its cross-generational and cross-cultural appeal? A damned good story.

A good story, you have

We use storytelling with clients as a strategic tool to unearth some of the most fundamental elements of a future brand, in particular a compelling Purpose: ‘What is your quest?’ and Values: ‘What are you fighting for, and against?’ A clear narrative provides direction and focus, which is crucial when considering how a brand story will play out across the 3Cs (choose, connect, commit) of brand experience.

George Lucas acknowledges the influence of American mythologist Joseph Campbell and his seminal study of comparative mythology ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’. Campbell asked ‘what makes myths so compelling?’ and discovered that they provide society with the ability to empathise with the hero (at an individual level) and unite collectively behind the hero’s journey and success.

Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces

When brands tap into the hero-journey narrative people feel they are inspiring, trustworthy and existing selflessly for the benefit of all of us.  We often become united by their belief in a better way.

The Hero-Journey

Campbell splits the hero-journey into five basic stages:

  1. The Hero starts in the ordinary world and is called forth to embark on an quest
  2. The Hero accepts the call and embarks on a journey, facing a number of challenges along the way
  3. The quest climaxes with an immense challenge, which the Hero must overcome often with the help of allies who have joined along the way
  4. The Hero survives and receives a great gift or knowledge
  5. The Hero returns to the ordinary world triumphant and uses his gift or knowledge to improve the lives of others.

So with a brand lens over this narrative structure consider the following:

UPS: A quest to support global commerce. Embarking on daily journeys to the ends of the earth, often encountering logistics challenges that can only be overcome with the help of integrated networks, UPS triumphantly manages the flow of goods, funds and information and helps global commerce connect.

Solar Impulse: A quest to invent a brighter future. Solar Impulse combats naysayers of renewable energy by developing an aircraft powered only by the sun. With the support of pioneering individuals Solar Impulse returns, and mobilises public enthusiasm about the future of renewable energies.

Hero Foods: A quest to conserve the goodness of nature. Hero fights for authentic, honest food by calling on its 125 years of conserving fruit and vegetable products. Searching far and wide, Hero freshly picks nature’s most healthy and flavoursome ingredients, conveniently delivering them to families around the world.

So as the Star Wars saga ramps up again for the eighth chapter, perhaps the time is right to assess your brand’s story, quest and characters.

May the force be with you.

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