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Why your brand story needs a villain

Dorothy had the Wicked Witch of the West. Indian Jones had the Nazis. They are the villains. And they are what make a story irresistible.

But wait a minute. We all love the heroes, right? The heroes are awesome. What’s all this business about the villains making things irresistible?

It’s all about the tension

Heroes overcome the odds to triumph. Usually seemingly insurmountable odds. It is because of these insurmountable odds that we find ourselves rooting for the heroes.

But stop and think about this: what if there were no insurmountable odds? What if there was no villain standing in the way of the goal? What if it was a cakewalk for our heroes?

It just wouldn’t be the same. Oh, there may be a moderately interesting tale to tell. But it wouldn’t be nearly as engaging or memorable. Why is that? Because a villain introduces tension into the story.

It’s that tension that has us wondering if the hero will prevail. And if the villain is pronounced enough, the tension generated will have us on the edge of our seats.

So what the heck does this have to do with your brand?

Your brand has a story to tell. In fact, if you’re not telling a story, you’re left hoping that the features and functions of your brand will be enchanting. And the truth is that they are very rarely exceptional enough to be anything more than noteworthy.

This is why you need to introduce the villain into your story. But who — or more likely, what — is the villain that you should be including?

The villain is the anti-hero. So to understand the villain we have to start with the hero. Who is the hero? Hint: it’s not you or your brand. Your hero is the person you hope to serve. Get a really good picture of who this is. Now, what is her or his challenge? Or what is her or his aspiration and what is keeping her or him from that aspiration?

This is the villain.

Make this part of the story. It will create that tension that touches a nerve with your hero. And it will heighten the triumph that comes from overcoming that villain.

Imagine your brand being associated with that feeling. This is how brand stories become irresistible.

All great stories have one. Are you ready to find the villain that will make yours great?

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 12, 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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