Eight Model Storytelling Buildings | Branding Technique Insider
Every brand wants to take their audience on an unforgettable journey. So it's important to take the time to assess what the trip will look like to build a brand story.
There are many structures that storytellers use to create different types of stories. Here are eight of the most common.
1. Monomyth: This story model, also known as a hero journey, is probably the most popular because we simply love heroes and their remarkable journeys. Many of our favorite childhood stories and religious accounts have been built around this structure. This archetype of history introduces the character as someone who leads an ordinary life, but then goes through a deep personal transformation through unforeseen circumstances or conflicts, which opens up a new perspective for them and their fellow human beings.
In storytelling brands, this structure is often used to present the customer as a hero while exchanging testimonials about how he was "transformed" by the brand's product or service. We also see brands use this approach internally to promote employee advocacy by making employees heroes in their brand history and offering them an open platform to share the “transformation” that they experience as part of the company to have. In any case, this model is very effective to inspire the audience. Remember that you want to take your audience on an unforgettable journey. Therefore, it is crucial for the development of the brand history to take the time to assess what the trip will look like.
2. The mountain: This story structure focuses on building the narrative conflict or tension at its highest climatic point. Just as a mountain visually escalates in nature and descends again after reaching the summit, the plot in this story model reveals one challenge after another, which leads to a dramatic point and then an equally sensational conclusion. In the mountain structure, the end of the story is not necessarily a happy one. Many people confuse this structure with the basic story arc because they look relatively the same visually. However, the story arc is a general guide on how stories should be created consistently. The mountain structure, on the other hand, is an actual plot design that strategically and consciously guides the audience through an intensive experience immediately after the story begins. This structure can be used to capture and hold your audience's attention in a very emotional way. Because it's inherently intense, it's important to measure how your audience gets the story in the test phase, and particularly analyze the answers you get when you land to make sure it's successful as a technique.
3. Nested loops: In this brand storytelling technique, you create a series of stories (loops) to finally get to the central story. This technique is useful for large companies with a hybrid audience, as they can “overlay” the brand narrative to eventually reach a general audience. At Microsoft, my team was able to use this model to accomplish the task of creating a technical story and combining it with one that shows a personal perspective to broaden our audience base. In this case, we knew that our core audience (IT experts, decision makers and developers) wanted their content to be specific and not "watered down". They liked to read technical white papers and case studies because this content described certain steps that they wanted to take in their own companies. It is clear that we could not reach a general consumer audience with a white paper or case study, and of course we did not want to take any content away from our main audience. So we set about creating other narratives (or loops) that point to this main content. These other stories were human-centered stories – stories about the engineers or team members who contributed to the specific task or project mentioned in the case study. However, the stories also served as independent stories that highlighted a person or a team and could be marketed as well-being stories alone. This turned out to be a very successful tactic for us, which directly contributed to a significant increase in content consumption from year to year.
4. Sparklines: In this narrative, the audience is presented with a contrasting view of reality and the utopian world, and a journey through "what is" and "what could be" is undertaken to inspire the audience to act, often to improve a particular situation . This structure is essentially creative, dynamic and emotional and is often used to draw attention to social activism.
5. In medias res: From Latin for "in the middle of things". This narrative begins in the middle of the action, often the culmination of the story, to create a shocked reaction from the audience, and then turns to give the story a context. This technique is very successful in getting your audience's attention from the start, but you have to be hardworking to get their attention through the rest of the story by creatively bringing the beginning and ending together.
6. Converging ideas: As the name suggests, merging ideas is a fusion of different perspectives of a story, which together reveal the main message of the story. Similar to nested loops, converging ideas tell many stories (which can even appear disjointed if they stand alone) that eventually come together. This technique is great for creating stories from different areas or disciplines of a company. Since we can't expect a financial lead to tell the same story as an operations analyst, both can create the brand story from their own perspective, which focuses on the brand issue (mission) and shows the same universal truth. This enables a larger and more diverse reach of the audience while maintaining the story. In the coming chapters you will learn more about how you can effectively implement this with an integrated marketing plan.
7. False start: This story technique is mainly used to show a flexible approach to a story and to ask the audience what's next. In this narrative, you first tell a story that is easy to predict (it is inherently predictable) and gives the audience a false sense of control before suddenly starting another narrative. This element of surprise forces the audience to "stay tuned" and watch the rest of the story closely.
8. Petals: Similar to the convergence of ideas, this structure brings together other stories, but differs in that the stories are all connected by a central narrative. With this technique, every single "petal" culminates in the main or middle story. This technique is good for showing your audience how many related stories can be told from a main story.
A meaningful story lands well because it takes into account the needs of the audience. While everyone can tell a story by introducing the basic elements of character, action, and conclusion, building an effective brand story structure will deliberately consider how storytelling is received by the audience.
Contribution to the Branding Strategy Insider by: Mira Rodriguez. Excerpt from her book Brand Storytelling: putting customers at the center of your brand story (Kogan page)
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