Rethinking Your Brand Story – Why your customer is NOT the hero.

Rethinking Brand Storytelling: Why Your Customer Isn’t the Hero

I have a contrary-ish kind of mind.

And this time I’m going against the grain on brand story. There’s this belief that the customer is always the hero of the brand story. It’s a concept deeply rooted in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and made super popular by Donald Miller’s StoryBrand methodology. However, upon closer examination and many hours of musing, this belief doesn’t always hold true, especially when it comes to crafting a compelling brand narrative for physical products.

Let’s dive into why the traditional approach of placing the customer as the hero might not always be the most effective strategy for brand building and storytelling.

  1. The Never-Ending Story:
    One of the fundamental flaws of positioning the customer as the hero is that it implies an endpoint to the brand story. But then if the story ends, then so do your sales!

  2. But consider an iconic brand like Apple. Does their narrative ever truly end, or do they continually engage their customers in an ongoing journey of innovation and discovery? By making the brand itself the hero, the story becomes timeless and ever-evolving, with customers as active characters.

  3. Guiding the Journey:

  4. I believe a brand narrative exists to fulfill the needs and desires of customers. You exist to guide the customer and “save them” from whatever it is they need saving from!  Rather than casting customers as heroes who must overcome challenges, brands can position themselves as the hero/ guide, offering solutions and support every step of the way. Take Airbnb, for instance. Their mantra “Belong Anywhere” emphasizes the brand’s role in facilitating meaningful connections and experiences, positioning Airbnb as the hero that enables customers to feel at home wherever they go.

  5. Empowering Transformation:

  6. Instead of framing the customer as the hero who achieves a singular victory, brands can empower them to undergo continuous transformation. VivoBarefoot, with its focus on barefoot footwear and its benefits for human health, positions the brand as the catalyst for growth and connection to nature. They are in essence “saving” the customer from the evils of traditional, padded, overly supportive footwear.

Crafting a brand narrative isn’t about creating a static story with a beginning, middle, and end. It’s about cultivating an ongoing dialogue where customers are active characters in the brand’s narrative. By reframing the role of the customer from hero to collaborator, brands can forge deeper connections, inspire loyalty, and drive sustainable growth.

So, the next time you’re working on your brand’s story, consider shifting the focus from the customer as the hero to the brand itself as the guiding force. Embrace the role of mentor, ally, and catalyst for transformation, and watch as your narrative unfolds in ways you never imagined.

If you’re holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night, or just need assistance in shaping your messaging and brand story, feel free to reach out.

Connect with me for more insights, stories, and musings on branding, marketing, and beyond. Your feedback and thoughts are always welcome

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