You may be familiar with the hero journey, the plot structure used as a story template for brands and businesses that want to present themselves as relevant to their customers. In brief, the hero journey is a narrative about the transformation of the protagonist in three main phases: departure, initiation and return.
These stages are also used for brand story narratives of which status quo, conflict, and resolution form the basis.
It works. But also it has its pitfalls.
These are some of the problems you might experience if you see the hero journey as a magic technique to help you engage with your customers:
You might start believing that what you say and the order in which you say it creates the connection. Wrong. There is also your tone of voice, your intention, and your non-verbal communication cues. We aren’t robots – everything counts. Do you believe in the story that you tell? Does it move you?
The more you rely on the template, the less you may think you need to adjust your story to different audiences. One story can work perfectly well with one audience, but not with another. Learning to listen while speaking is a very important skill that every storyteller needs to cultivate.
With a template to hand, you might be tempted to believe that you have one single and clear voice in your story. This is not usually the case. When you work with others there are always other voices to be considered, and even when you’re the only one working on your own story you may find that you also have many voices in your own head! All stories have layers that enrich them and lead us to connect with them on a deeper level. Is the recent ruling by a court in the Netherlands that the oil company Shell must reduce its emissions a David and Goliath story, or is it the story of a landmark case advancing standards to stop climate change? Or is it both?
Templates and processes are tools, but your best story skills will always be listening, empathising and the potential to create trust in any single moment.