On Sundays, I spend 60 minutes planning the coming week. If I don’t plan in advance, I find myself cluelessly wandering from one task to another throughout the week. Without a structure in place, I get anxious. Structure brings sanity to my life.
Stories have a structure too
Without structures, stories can become messy, pointless, and confusing. They fail to incite emotion (Remember the last season of Game of Thrones?). Fortunately, there is a simple story structure that you can use.
But before we get into business storytelling, let’s take a small detour and visit Hogwarts, shall we? What better way to learn the art of storytelling than movies?
The framework for storytelling is simple –
Status quo -> Conflict -> Resolution
The ‘Status quo’ describes the current state of things. It’s all about how things are today.
The ‘Conflict’ arises is when a certain threat enters the scenario.
The ‘Resolution’ is when the threat is averted and the day is saved.
Status quo –
Harry Potter was living a miserable life with his uncle, aunt, and cousin.
Harry Potter realizes that he is a wizard and that his parents were killed by Lord Voldemort. It’s also revealed that there is a prophecy that says that either Harry would end up killing Lord Voldemort… or vice versa. Lord Voldemort starts plotting Harry’s death and his power grows steadily.
Harry, with the help of his friends, teachers, and well-wishers ends up destroying all the Horcruxes, kills Lord Voldemort, and peace is restored in the world again. The story reinforces that friendship and bravery are our greatest friends.
Let’s talk about Finding Nemo.
Marlin is overly cautious about the well-being of his son, Nemo.
Panic sets in when Nemo gets lost. Marlin sets off on a quest and tries everything in his capacity to find his son.
Through perseverance and struggle, Marlin and Nemo find each other and everything is back to normal.
How can brands leverage this framework?
When it comes to brands, things change a little bit.
The Status Quo is how things are being done in the world of our audience.
Conflict is created when the status quo is threatened in some capacity. Due to this conflict, the audience of this brand is in danger.
Resolution is the brand’s promise to help the audience overcome this threat.
Example – Here’s the story that Seth Godin built for ‘Permission Marketing’ a concept that he pioneered.
Status Quo –
Traditional marketing is all about interrupting people with advertisements. Buy more ads, interrupt more people, and make millions in profit. This model works and a lot of brands have been built by using it.
When the internet came along, people had multiple options to choose from. From having 2 channels on the television, we went to have billions and billions of channels. With this power of choice, advertising-driven mass marketing stopped working. Businesses now face a crisis.
Instead of interrupting people with their message, take their permission. Send relevant, personalized messages to people. Enroll them in your journey. This is the new way of doing Marketing… Permission Marketing! Using Permission Marketing, businesses can thrive.
Let’s take the example of Jonathan Stark.
Jonathan helps independent professionals make more money without working more hours.
Status quo –
Most independent professionals are charging hourly rates for their services.
When an independent professional charges by the hour, he intentionally stretches the number of hours needed to do the job. “I can do this in 5 hours, but I would get paid less. Let me finish the work in 8 hours instead”. Charging by the hour is thus harmful to both – the professionals as well as the clients.
Resolution – Instead of hourly billing, independent professionals can embrace value pricing. Value pricing is the strategy of charging based on the value that you provide. This creates a win-win situation for everyone.
Lastly, let’s take the example of Upekkha.io. Upekkha is an accelerator that helps Saas businesses grow.
Status quo –
Most Saas organizations want to raise funds. Raising money seems like a sure-shot way of growing an organization.
However, many Saas organizations raise funding too soon and when the funds run out, they struggle to survive. The founders end up diluting their stake and are forced out of their own companies.
Organizations can instead adopt a ‘Value Saas’ strategy, which ensures that they stay frugal until they reach sustainable profitability. Instead of focusing on raising money, these organizations focus on profitability.
Status quo, tension and resolution is a simple 3-step framework that you can use for your brand storytelling. Play with it. 🙂
In conclusion, the simple framework to tell brand stories is Status Quo -> Tension -> Resolution. Brands can use this framework to create stories that are polarizing and can inspire the audience to action.