In Part I of this article (here – https://www.morphomfg.com/how-to-tell-your-brand-story-for-maximum-growth-and-impact/), we went over all the elements that go into creating a great personal brand story that connects with your intended audiences.
In this article, we will bring all the parts together and build a moving story for your brand!
WHY A PERSONAL BRAND STORY?
We live in a world full of stories. Everything we are so drawn to makes use of stories – Be it movies, TV shows, advertising, everyday conversations, books, newspapers, and so on.
Heck, we had an entire class since early school that was exclusively about story-telling – History!
If you want to increase your impact, not just with your marketing, but with just about everything, be it parenting, socializing, interviews, speaking, leadership, you have to take this skill of story-telling seriously.
A story is deeply interweaved with our lives.
If you missed the Part I of this article, please go back and read it. I made my case in there on the importance of stories and how stories turned lives around, made great impact on the world – both culturally and financially.
Right now, our focus is of course, financial.
Financially, clever use of stories in marketing brought in massive business – be it movies such as Avatar, Titanic, the Harry Potter franchise, PC games such as Grand Theft Auto, Coke, Nike shoes, Dos Equis Beer, Airbnb, Absolut Vodka, and so on. All of them used the power of great story-telling to enhance their brand and make brisk business.
This is why, to figure out EXACTLY how to write a great personal brand story, I have reverse engineered the perfect structure for great story-telling. Using it can enhance your impact at just about every level in your life.
So, why wait?
Let’s dive into it immediately –
THE SECRET STRUCTURE OF GREAT STORY-TELLING
The story-telling structure I am going to share with you here has been used to write stories for just about every medium, be it a movie, a TV show, a Novel, an Ad, News… just about anything.
It’s the secret structure and skeleton of creating a great story. It will move your audience and will be something they can’t help but identify themselves with.
So, without further ado, here’s the structure –
The Plot –
A plot of a story is basically made up of significant events that happen to our protagonist and turn his world upside-down.
This may seem unusual, but the protagonist can be yourself (if you are building a personal brand), your company (if you are building your business up as a brand), or even your product/service (if that’s what you are look to build as a brand). As we break things down further, it will start clearing up for you.
A plot of a story is made up of these parts –
The Setting –
At the very first, comes the setting. This is where you introduce the protagonist, his world, his surroundings, the characters in his life, and so on.
Introducing the setting doesn’t have to be long. In fact, a brief introduction is enough.
I will use the movie Avatar as an example to reveal the structure. The movie is not only an excellent and stunning demonstration of story-telling, but also one of the highest grossing movies world-wide. You can take this structure and apply it just about anywhere.
If you have seen Avatar, great. If not, why don’t you go and watch it before you read this article. That way, not only you catch a great movie you may have missed earlier, but also have a point of reference. I strongly recommend watching it. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0499549/)
So, getting back to Avatar’s plot, we are introduced to Jake Sully, his world as a paraplegic, his strength of character (especially in the bar fight scene), a planet with no greenery left, and so on.
That’s the setting for you.
The Challenge –
Once you have introduced the setting, it’s time to throw in a challenge or a curious occurrence.
Jake Sully above meets 2 strangers, who tell him about his brother’s death and invite him to be a part of an experiment on Pandora, because they were twins.
Rapid Intensification –
Once our protagonist finds himself in a new setting, it’s time to rapidly intensify the action.
The protagonist is dropped into a whole new world. Once there, there are a whole new bunch of adventures waiting for him.
This is where we can add a mix of humor, success, failure, screw ups, disappointments, and so on.
This is also where we deepen the involvement and dedication of our protagonist into adjusting to the new order of things.
In Jake Sully’s case, we are introduced to the new characters on Pandora – the good doctor, the bad guy, the greedy Corporate guy, and so on.
We learn about the strife between human visitors and the indigenous tribes, the purpose behind coming to Pandora, and Jake’s new objective.
Then, he gets a new body. He is now the Avatar, taller, stronger, and a whole new adventure in itself! He can walk, breathe, and effortlessly adjust to the new surroundings. It’s almost a miracle.
He revels in his new body taking in the scenic surroundings that are far more different than the home planet he left behind. Not only he can do things he couldn’t previously, but there’s also a whole new world out there for the taking!
Jake goes through a few adventures of his own, almost gets killed by a wild animal, gets lost into the jungle, runs into the Na’vi people, sees their world, and so it goes.
The Build-up to Climax –
Till now, everything in the story is rapidly building up, with the challenges and adventures rapidly intensifying.
Every situation is new, and our protagonist has to bring a whole new level of commitment, imagination, creativity, and inner strength to solve them.
This is where little details start adding up on top of each other to bring us to the climax, the most important event in the plot.
In Jake’s case, we have so far seen the world of the Na’vi, Jake becoming a part of the tribe, the destruction left behind by humans, Jake’s moral struggles, the suffering of the tribes, and so on.
The Climax –
The Climax is the point of no return for our protagonist. This is where he or she undergoes a great personal loss – a great failure, embarrassment, or humiliation.
Our protagonist now has to make a choice that will change everything.
In Jake’s case, his efforts at peaceful resolution between humans and the Na’vi tribe have failed and he is left broken seeing the incredible destruction of everything he has come to hold dear.
The Final Struggle –
Our protagonist has undergone a huge personal loss. This is when they are on the spur of giving up and accepting defeat, when all of a sudden, they are gifted with a new creative insight into their situation.
Armed with this new insight, he or she musters up all of their remaining strength for one final struggle.
He fights on. There are a few more ups and downs. But ultimately, the protagonist’s efforts bear fruit and he gets to experience the sweet taste of victory!
In Jake’s case, it was the climax that pushes him to pick sides, a creative insight to find his secret weapon and unite all the warriors, fight, and achieve a decisive victory.
The Wrap Up
Here, we get to see and experience the sweet taste of victory, the humans leaving Pandora for good, Na’vi tribe getting ready for a party (whatever it means on their side), and Jake leaving behind his old human body.
Quite the wrap if you ask me… Leaves you wanting more!
There you have the secret structure for writing a great story… every single time.
Looks so ridiculously simple, doesn’t it?
You can take this structure and apply it to just about any great movie that affected and moved you, any movie that broke box office records and made a lot of moolah. More times than not, it will have the same or a very similar structure working behind the scenes.
Don’t discount the power of this simple structure. The box office success of Avatar is for everyone to see and learn from.
THE 4 KEY ELEMENTS TO BUILD YOUR PERSONAL BRAND STORY
Now that I have your attention, how do we bring the 4 key elements that we discussed in the last article together to create a unique personal brand story?
Let’s go over each element –
1) Authenticity –
Authenticity and Believability is weaved into every part of your story. Whether you are doing a work of fiction or building your next big Ad Campaign, be authentic to the expectations, beliefs, and standards you have set up front.
If we go back to the movie Avatar, it’s a work of Sci-Fi. The world Cameron built is entirely imaginary. There are floating “Hallelujah Mountains”, there’s a tree of souls that connects the Na’vi tribes with their deity Eywa and stores all memories of their ancestors, there are flying banshees, and so on.
All a work of fiction, but used in a consistent manner throughout the movie. Meaning, Cameron creates all these imaginary themes, and consistently sticks to them throughout the movie.
Put simply, it’s fiction and imagination brought to life by adding consistency and believability to the mix.
Think about it this way – When you go watch a movie with an A-list star, what’s the biggest believability factor that immerses you into the experience?
It’s the believability the actor brings to the character. In a movie, the actor leaves his original self behind and wears the role totally. His enactment of the character is so strong that you don’t really think of him anymore as the person he actually is, but the character himself.
How would it feel if the actor suddenly left the role and started behaving like his original self, onscreen?
You would be immediately lose your connection with the story and lose all interest in continuing with the movie.
Hence, the amount of retakes to make every shot more and more authentic, more and more believable. An inexperienced actor won’t bring that level of believability to his acting – he comes across more as “pretending” to be the character versus actually being the character!
The same with your story. How authentic you are depends on how vulnerable you are prepared to be.
If you try and make things up, hide your weaknesses, skip important details, exaggerate strengths, people will see right through you and your story won’t make much of an impact.
Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you open and unload a can of worms onto your audience. It simply means, whatever you choose to share, you share it as it is, without exaggerating, without lies, without making things up, or skipping important details.
If you bring a certain level of consistency with your brand, your audiences will trust you and find you to be authentic! Something very rare in our society, building an instant connection with your personal brand.
2) Bring your story to life –
If you can use vivid imagery and great attention to detail, your audience can physically connect with your story.
The really special thing about the movie Avatar is the incredible attention to detail and the lengths at which James Cameron went to make every aspect of the Na’vi world look real.
He waited almost 10 years after the Avatar script was ready until the necessary technology was advanced enough to create the required special effects.
He got a linguistic expert to create the Na’vi tongue, which currently has a lexicon of more than 2200 words with published Grammar, thus making it a complete, learnable, and serviceable language!
The live action was shot in 3-D using cameras and effects specially invented by Cameron. And so on.
All and all, Avatar is movie-making on a colossal scale, unlike anything before it!
Even then, this is what Cameron says about story-telling –
“The basics of storytelling don’t change.”
Go the distance in bringing your story to life with great attention to the details, expressions, and imagery you use so your audience can physically connect with your story.
3) Make it about them –
Every individual sees and perceives any story through their eyes as a unique individual, through their own mental filters, and ofcourse, as the protagonist of that story.
Nobody really likes playing the second-fiddle in life. Everyone is the protagonist of their own life story, regardless of the actual ground situation!
This is why, whenever you are telling your story, you have to take care to ask this question at every step – Can my intended audiences relate to my story? If the answer is yes, then go ahead. If not, stop and make a shift.
Think Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling’s intended audiences were kids going to school. That’s why, Harry Potter, the protagonist, is a little kid about to enter the first year of wizarding school.
If she had used an adult as the protagonist, it would have failed to make a mark on her intended audiences.
Likewise, who is your target audience? Is it school-going kids, is it middle-age men, is it teenage girls?
Once you know your target audience, be sure to find out their dreams, aspirations, challenges, frustrations, strengths, weaknesses, and so on.
You can shape your protagonist to suit your target audience so they can strongly relate with your story.
Your protagonist doesn’t always have to be physically related to your intended target audiences like Harry Potter.
They can be similar in qualities, character, personality, challenges, aspirations, flaws, and so on.
The more your audiences can relate to your story, the more they will think of it as the story of their own life, and the more impact you can make on them.
In Avatar, Jake Sully was this paraplegic soldier, weak in body, but with a great heart, good intentions, and generally a normal, everyday guy. He was easy to relate to because of his character.
Likewise, Harry Potter was “special”, courageous, good-hearted, who got lucky and got admitted to a wizarding school where he could do fascinating and magical things, something every kid that age aspires and craves to do.
Even though it is your brand story, be sure to create it in such a way where your audiences can immediately relate to and connect with it!
4) Look for imperfections you turned into opportunities –
When people go watch a movie, they are looking to forget their challenges, weaknesses, worries, and escape into someone else’s world, even if only for a few moments. They are looking to somehow link your story with their own life and feel inspired.
If the protagonist of your story is this perfect being with no weaknesses or flaws, invulnerable, and generally omnipotent, not only they will find it hard to relate to, but it would turn into a bland experience. There are no ups and downs, no struggles, no challenges, no screw ups, no failures…just success at every step. Hey, even Superman has a weakness for Kryptonite!
It’s a good idea to look for endearing imperfections in your protagonist that others can immediately relate to. As your protagonist seeks to fight and overcome those limitations, they connect with him and immediately feel inspired by his struggles.
The protagonist can be a mixture of flaws and strengths. The strengths and good qualities are something your target audience already has or craves to have.
Think one of those old Bruce Lee movies. Bruce Lee is an incredible Kung Fu fighter with lightning fast moves.
Even then, he is still a human with flaws and regularly runs into other cunning villains equally as good fighters as him. People actually believed they could be like Bruce Lee, hence all the Kung Fu craze in the West and the incredible popularity of Bruce Lee flicks during his lifetime.
People lived their own secret fantasies of being this badass warrior through those movies!
To wrap up, be sure to talk about any endearing flaws, limitations, and imperfections others can immediately relate to that you encountered on your journey, how you fought with them, and came out victorious the other end.
This will magnify the impact of your story manifold!
There, you now have all the knowledge you need to create an incredible brand story.
As you already saw, this thing really works. ‘The proof is in the pudding’, goes the saying. This structure has been tested in the past and it has delivered.
Now, it’s your turn. Put it to good use. Test things out. A story is something that is universally understood and appreciated. We all value a good story, part of the reason why some stories have been passed on to us since millenia.
You can apply this structure in just about any setting, be it parenting, socializing, public speaking, interviews, writing, ads, just about anywhere… and of course, while building your own brand story.
Want to make a point, make a sale, get others to back your business idea, or just be an interesting individual? Use this secret structure to build a great personal brand story!
As a wrap up, be sure to watch this video –