Hi, I’m your friendly neighborhood Branding Hero. I am here to help save your day and your business. Lots of people talk about Brand Storytelling and the Hero’s Journey writing outline. I want to share with you a little variation, the Superhero’s Narrative. Most of the time the Hero’s Journey is one overreaching arc. Whether it be Luke Skywalker overthrowing the Empire, Frodo’s Quest to destroy the One Ring, or Katniss Everdeen trying to survive the Hunger Games and the messy aftermath, those stories end when the Big Bad is defeated. Oddly enough, life doesn’t (at least we hope not.) Rather than a Hero’s Journey, the Superhero’s Narrative is based on the idea of a comic book superhero. In most comic books there are story arcs. However, just like in real life, those arcs are challenges that after they are faced and overcome are replaced by new changes and challenges. Your Brand Narrative, just like a comic book title, is a series.
This part may seem easy… but it can often be the hardest. This is the typical questions and answers to who, what, where, when, and why.
Who started the business? In comic books, Peter Parker was a typical nerdy teenager. He was bullied by a football player. His parents died in an accident and he was raised by his aunt and uncle in a somewhat middle-class suburb of Queens. Spiderman is a popular superhero. A large part of his popularity is because people identify with him. They connect with his backstory emotionally. Most of us are not rich like Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. Think about Microsoft and Apple. Both businesses were started by college dropouts in their garages. Do you feel a connection? Starting a business with almost nothing is a common theme with entrepreneurs, but it helps people to emotionally connect with the business founders.
What did the business start out doing? Many businesses begin as one thing and grow into a different entity. In the comics, Stark Enterprises started out as a weapons developer but has since grown into a Marvel version of Apple-like tech industry. Apple itself started out as a computer company and has grown into a tech company that makes phones, watches, computers, and many more products. The story of that change helps consumers to connect emotionally. Especially when we explain why we change. By the way, the answer needs to be more than “we just wanted to make more money.”
Where did you get your start? Spiderman would not be quite as effective in Asheboro, North Carolina. (Hard to web swing without high-rise office towers.) Superman’s childhood being raised on a farm helped to form his worldview but did not show his powers until moving to Metropolis. Sometimes our origin is a tale of the hometown hero. Sometimes it is the journey to somewhere new that pushes us to grow as a person or a business. Either way, this too can help a customer to feel connected to a business.
When did you get the idea for your business? When did you step out of your door into the big adventure of entrepreneurship? A business that is well established with years of experience is reassuring for financial institutions and customers. A start-up(new) business has a fresh perspective and an invested interest in local events.
This one is the most important. Why are you in THIS Business? Out of all of the millions of businesses in all the world, why did you get into this one? In other words, what is your origin?
When we consider a superhero’s origin there are four that could apply to reality (no aliens, magic, or power totems… sorry Mjolnir.)
First is the process of finding meaning in trauma. Many superheroes face some form of trauma: Batman, Daredevil, Spiderman each of them faced the loss of a loved one due to crime so they became crime fighters. In business, many founders may face trauma or crisis that inspires them to go into their field of expertise. A victim of a crime, accident, or trauma may become a lawyer, private investigator, first responder, or a doctor. Someone who went through the tragedy of a loss or injury could be inspired to develop the cure for a disease, a new type of prosthetic, or a new life-saving device. If this describes why you went into business. Write. It. Down.
“Ye’r a wizard, Harry!”
The second form of origin is discovering an unknown strength or destiny. Harry Potter discovers his wizard heritage. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is told she is the “Chosen One.” A teenager in the X-Men universe manifests mutant powers. In this form of origin, someone discovers they have some inborn talent that helps them meet a need or overcome a challenge. Are you a wiz with computer programming and people are constantly asking you for help? Do you have a way with words and can teach others how to do things using a method you developed? If this describes why you went into business. Write. It. Down.
The third form of origin is seemingly random chance. Bruce Banner became the Hulk after getting caught in a Gamma Bomb explosion. Barry Allen was struck by lightning while working with some chemicals. The Fantastic Four went through a cosmic ray storm. Did you stumble across a business idea that you are passionate about because you were laid off? Whatever led you to go into your business field instead of the millions of other in existence. Write. It. Down.
I am Iron Man.
The fourth form of origin is to create one’s own power. Here you have the inventors: Ant-Man, Iron Man, Batman and others who either create their powers or train themselves to peak levels of ability. Have you invented something that you think will revolutionize the world or even one corner of an industry? Have you worked your way from nothing by sheer determination and work ethic? Write. It. Down.
These origins inspire people and provide models of triumph and success in the face of adversity. People connect with these origins because they make us think, “These people made it so maybe I can too.” So, what’s your Superhero Origin? Not sure how to put it together or share it? Let your branding experts help you tell your story. Keep reading our blog posts for tips to create and grow your brand or give us a call and schedule a consultation.