Being the guide in the story
One of the hardest parts of telling a great brand story is figuring out how to work the characters.
First let’s get the following bit straight. You’re not the hero.
The customer is.
The natural role for the brand is to be the guide.
The guide role is critical to crafting a story
Stories rely on conflict in the hero’s journey. Without conflict, the audience has no reason to care.
The hero must struggle through conflict, enough that help of some type is required. If it’s easy, it’s boring.
The guide does not resolve the conflict. They makes it possible for the hero to do so, and at just the right time.
What kind of guide is your brand?
Here are 3 guide archetypes from famous stories. Use them to understand what’s right for your brand.
Remember, this isn’t about your brand’s personality. This isn’t about feminine vs masculine or anything like that.
This is about the ways in which you help your hero (customer) transform and succeed.
The Fairy Godmother serendipitously appears to help the hero. The hero themselves must be in a hopeless place. Thus, they need miraculous intervention.
The hero already deserves this intervention due to their circumstances. But they MUST take the Fairy Godmother’s gifts and DO SOMETHING with them to resolve the conflict.
Cinderella magically gets everything she needs to go the ball just when it seems she’s lost all hope. The rest is up to her.
The Mr. Miyagi guide archetype does not show up and wave a problem-solving wand for the hero. Quite the opposite.
The hero is going to have to put in the work. Over time. They’re going to have to earn the right to save the day. The Mr. Miyagi guide enables this through a single constant theme:
Mr. Miyagi sees Daniel as the bonsai tree. He uses clever tactics to forge Daniel into a winner throughout the story.
The Yoda approach requires existing knowledge of the true answers. It also requires a hero that has yet to learn these answers. Only then can they conquer the story’s conflict.
The Yoda guide archetype believes that when the student is ready, the answers will appear. Thus, they support the hero not by direct application, but by challenging the hero to grow and self-discover.
The hero can’t just conquer the conflict. They must first earn the right. This guide is a mentor, not a benefactor. They are a coach, not a trainer.
Now, you've got to think.
Do any of these resonate with you? You don’t have to pick just one and stick with it.
At different moments we can all be like a Fairy Godmother and empower with generosity. Or we can be the toughest trainer someone’s ever known. Or we can keep challenging someone to explore within themselves.
When thinking through your brand’s overall story, start trying these on to see what works.
Questions? Just reply to the email that sent you here, or @ me on Twitter.
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