7 Basic Types of Stories: Which One Is Your Brand Telling?


There are really only 7 different types of storytelling.

1. Overcoming the Monster : Apples 1984 ad, Small Business Saturday http://youtu.be/wBJJUWt47rk
2. Rebirth : A story of renewal. It’s a Wonderful Life is a prime example from the movies. Brands telling stories of renewal include Gatorade, whose “Replay” campaign gave aging members of high-school sports teams a chance to recapture their youth through rematches against old foes; and Prudential, which is presenting retirement as the beginning of a new chapter, not the end of an old.  one.http://youtu.be/SiEsm-UOioc

3. Quest :  A mission from point A to point B. The Lord of the Rings is the classic example. IBM and Lexus are among the marketers who are on self-professed quests—making a smarter planet and relentlessly pursuing perfection, respectively. http://youtu.be/xhY7G8-yBrM

4. Journey and Return. A story about transformation through travel and homecoming. The Wizard of Oz and Where the Wild Things Are are both journey-and-return stories. Corona is one of the brands that also encourages a trip, urging you to “Find your beach” and return refreshed. And Expedia has built its whole new campaign around the idea of changing one’s perception through journey and return. http://youtu.be/z23TBvBJsCg http://youtu.be/ThzdsnXeE28

5. Rags to Riches. In literature: Charles Dickens and Cinderella. In the movies: Trading Places. In ads: Chrysler, which is rising from the ashes of Detroit; and Johnny Walker, whose entire brand history is about a simple Scottish farmboy’s rise to global prominence. http://youtu.be/MnSIp76CvUI

6. Tragedy. From the Greeks through Shakespeare, these are stories of the dark side of humanity and the futile nature of human experience. Advertising has little use for such stories, except in PSA work, where shock tactics and depressing tales can get people to care about an issue. http://youtu.be/sC7zfgCXQFs

7. Comedy. The flipside of tragedy, and the last of the great storytelling tropes, it’s perhaps the hardest to do well but is hugely popular in both popular art and advertising—with Old Spice and Geico among the brand leaders in the space. http://youtu.be/G-XRzDt_bvo

“the seven plots can provide a blueprint for figuring out what a brand story should be when there isn’t one, or isn’t a strong one.”

“At the core of every brand, Royer added, is a good story waiting to happen.”

“”Brands are stories,” he said. “They want to embody a story. When we start working with a client, we don’t want to take a brief. We don’t want to just say, ‘What’s your problem?’ We want to go right back to, ‘Why was your company started? What’s your mission?’ We talk about mission all the time, and it’s just another way of saying, ‘What kind of story are you on? What kind of story do you want to tell?’ … Part of our job as an agency is to reignite that and really figure out what that story is.” http://www.treehugger.com/fossil-fuels/crowd-sourced-shell-parody-ad-now-billboard-houston.html

The challenge becomes finding which one best suits your brand, and then telling it skillfully, believably and—if you’re going to invite consumers to join in the story—extremely carefully.



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