Seth Godin the legendary marketer said that “ Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell. Brands have realized that telling your story is a critical part of building your brand. It helps customers forge connection with you and your company. ”. If you look at the biggest brands around you will notice that they have mastered the art of storytelling
• Apple tell stories of people challenging the status quo
• Nike tells stories of people trying to achieve the impossible
• Warby Parker tells stories of how its glasses are made keeping the need of every stakeholder in mind
How do brands tell compelling stories ? And stories that their audience wants to hear. There are some tried and tested formulas for storytelling that have been existence since the days of our grandmother. And great brands from Pixar, Apple and more use it.
1. Three-Act Structure
Setup — Set the stage and introduce the character(s)
Confrontation or “Rising action” — Present a problem and build up the tension
Resolution — Resolve the problem
The three-act structure is one of the oldest and most straightforward storytelling formulas. You might recognize this structure in many of the bollywood movies
2. Freytag’s Pyramid: Five-Act Structure
Exposition — Introduce important background information
Rising action — Tell a series of events to build up to the climax
Climax — Turn the story around (usually the most exciting part of the story)
Falling action — Continue the action from the climax
Dénouement — Ending the story with a resolution
It is a more elaborate form of the three-act structure, which puts emphasis on the climax and the falling action of the story as much as the other parts of the story.
3. Before – After – Bridge
Before — Describe the world with Problem A.
After — Imagine what it’d be like having Problem A solved.
Bridge — Here’s how to get there.
This is our favorite storytelling formula used by brands. The startups use it to set the stage of a problem that your target audience is likely to experience.
4. Problem – Agitate – Solve
Problem — Present a problem
Agitate — Agitate the problem
Solve — Solve the problem
This is one of the most popular copywriting formulas, which is great for storytelling, too.
5. Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle
Why — Why the company exists
How — How the company fulfills its Why
What — What the company does to fulfill its Why
Simon Sinek’s TED talk, How great leaders inspire action, is one of the most viewed TED talks ever, with more than 30 million views so far. He explained that great companies like Apple inspire people and succeed because they use the Golden Circle formula.
Always start with your Why — Why are you in this business? What motivates you? Then, explain how your company will achieve your Why. Finally, describe in tangible terms what your company does to bring your Why to life (i.e. your products and services).
6. Dale Carnegie’s Magic Formula
Incident — Share a relevant, personal experience
Action — Describe the specific action taken to solve or prevent a problem
Benefit — State the benefits of the action
How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the greatest book written by Dale Carnegie. After studying many great leaders, the author, Dale Carnegie, developed this simple three-step storytelling formula that can help you persuade your audience.
Open your story with a personal experience relevant to your point to grab your audience’s attention. Describe the actions you took chronologically, showing that a change was needed. Wrap up the story by connecting the change to its benefits. (This could be a customer’s testimonial, too!)
7. Dave Lieber’s V Formula
Introduce the character
Bring the story to its lowest point
Turn it around and finish with a happy ending
David Lieber in his TED talk, mentioned the power of storytelling to change the world, he shared the story formula he has been using for his stories.
Once you introduce the character of the story, describe how things went awful for her, using emotions to draw your audience into your story. At the lowest point of the story, turn things around, describe how things improved, and end the story on a high note.
8. Star – Chain – Hook
Star — An attention-getting, positive opening
Chain — A series of convincing facts, benefits, and reasons
Hook — A powerful call-to-action
The star grabs your audience’s attention. The chain turns your audience’s attention into a desire. The hook gives them something actionable to fulfill their desire.
9. Pixar’s award-winning formula
Once upon a time, there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
Former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats shared 22 narrative rules she had learned during her time at Pixar. Among the 22 rules was this simple storytelling formula that has helped Pixar win countless awards, including 13 Academy Awards, 9 Golden Globes, and 11 Grammys.
You don’t have to follow the wording exactly. The idea, as I see it, is to introduce a character or a group of character, describe their usual routine, present a twist that disrupts their daily lives, explain how they overcome it and celebrate!
10. The Hero’s Journey
Departure — A hero receives a call to go on an adventure, receives advice from a mentor, and heads out on her journey.
Initiation — The hero meets a series of challenges but eventually completes the mission.
Return — The hero returns and helps others with her new found power or treasure.
The original hero’s journey is made up of 17 stages which are organized into the three acts described above. This formula is used by many of the greatest storytellers including George Lucas for his Star Wars films!
The hero of your story would often be your customers. They experience some tricky situations in their lives or work but eventually solve the problems with your product or service, improving their lives or bringing results to their company.
11. Nancy Duarte’s secret structure of great talks
What is — The status quo
What could be — The future that could be possible
Go back and forth between the two and end off with a …
New bliss — The wonderful future with your idea/product/service adopted
Nancy Duarte’s TED talk, The secret structure of great talks, has been viewed more than a million times. In her talk, she revealed the secret formula that Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King might have used for their famous speeches.
Start by describing the current situation and then contrast that with a future that’s way better. Make the present unappealing and the future attractive. Go back to the present and then point to the future again. End the story with the new state where your product or service is adopted.