Miri Rodriguez, the author of “Brand Storytelling: Put Customers At The Heart Of Your Brand Story” and an award-winning storyteller at Microsoft has written an excellent article about how to structure the story you tell about your brand.
Her article describes eight story structures, of which this post presents my top three favorites. Here they are.
This is probably familiar to you from high school or college English where we referred to it as the hero’s journey and perhaps learned about Joseph Campbell. (Check out the video at the end, a very quick and elegant explanation of the journey.) As Ms. Rodrigues says, “ … this story model is probably the most popular because we simply love heroes and their remarkable journeys.”
The hero’s journey introduces someone living an ordinary life, but after going through unexpected circumstances or conflicts, experience a deep personal transformation. In brand storytelling, the customer is often the hero, but a company’s employees can also show up as a hero—which is a great way to drive employee advocacy. Hero’s journey stories tend to be inspirational, and Ms. Rodriguez recommends that “taking the time to assess what the journey will look like is a critical part of building the brand story.”
In media res
This is a fancy way to say “into the middle of things.” In brand storytelling, your narrative begins in the middle of the action. Then it loops around to give the story some context. Ms. Rodriguez points out that you need to be skilled at grabbing and keeping the audience’s attention “by creatively bringing the beginning and conclusion together.”
Consider the story of the guy in the dungeon, in a pretty hopeless situation, and how it loops back to reveal how he got there and how he’s going to get out.
Sounds like programming or database management, doesn’t it? Ms. Rodriguez explains that, with nested loops, “you build a number of narratives (loops) to finally arrive at the central story. Large corporations, such as Microsoft uses this technique to eventually reach general audiences. Her team used it to create a technical story and match it with one that showcased a personal angle to expand the audience base.
The team knew that the core audience of IT professionals, developers, and business decision makers wanted heavy-duty content such as white papers and case studies, but that consumer audiences wanted something lighter. The nested loop technique allowed the team to communicate with both groups.
Brand storytelling is something business communicators should live for. It’s rich, powerful, and just fun enough to make writing a pleasurable experience.
Check out the video, which is Matthew Winkler and Kirill Yeretsky’s look at the hero’s story
microone — 123rf.com