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How to find the villain of your brand story

Every great story has a villain. Star Wars has Darth Vader. Harry Potter has Lord Voldemort.

Villains play a crucial role. They introduce tension into the story. Tension that makes everyone want to root for the hero.

As I described in a previous post, the villain is the challenge your hero faces. Or, it is that thing that is keeping your hero from a greater aspiration (remember, you are not the hero of your brand story — the hero is the person you hope to serve.)

Bring this into your brand narrative and you amp up that irresistible tension and create real resonance with those you hope to serve. But where do you find this villain? Here are 3 ideas.

  1. Look to the research
    Dig into any consumer research your organization has done. What can you learn about those you hope to serve (your heroes). What challenges do they face? What desires do they have? Can you realistically demonstrate how your brand could help them address these? The villains may be lurking in your research.
  2. Talk to your frontline people
    Nobody knows the challenges of your heroes like those who interact with them every day. Your frontline people hear all the stories. They have a special view into the lives of those you hope to serve. Sometimes all it takes is to ask these folks what they have experienced. Ask them to help you uncover the villains.
  3. Use your intuition and iterate
    Still not sure who the villain is? Then take what you know and use your intuition. Test your assumptions. As you learn what resonates with your heroes, make adjustments. Through testing and fine tuning, you will home in on the villain.

Storytellers throughout the ages have known this secret — there is nothing like a villain to give your story real power. If you have any doubts, just ask your hero.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

Originally published at https://www.dansalva.com on September 19, 2019.

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Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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