THE HERO'S JOURNEY; A ROADMAP FOR STORYTELLING (VIDEO)
Updated: Dec 1, 2019
The Hero’s Journey is the blueprint behind the most culturally influential stories throughout history.
It is present in nearly every film ever made and common to nearly every culture and religion in the world. It allows us to see our lives as reflections of universal truth it gives us the sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves.
In Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, he outlines the Hero’s Journey in 11 steps that begin with a Call to Adventure and end with The Return Home. To make it more accessible to branded storytelling, I have condensed this into 5 steps.
THE 5 STEPS
Answering The Call To Adventure
Taking The First Step
Encountering The Challenge
The Return Home
WHY IT WORKS FOR BRANDS
The Hero's journey is a roadmap for the viewer to enter and become a participant in the story. This is why this approach is so good for brands. If the stories you tell reflect your brand values, the Hero’s Journey becomes your brand story. And your viewers become participants in your story.
Here is how it works:
1. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE
We all remember Luke Skywalker just before his Call to Adventure. He looks at the horizon as if hearing a distant voice calling to him. Star Wars was an epic adventure that cost millions to make, but the Hero’s Journey can scale to any size production. The following clips illustrate the Hero’s Journey on a much smaller scale where the events are less dramatic, but still carry emotional weight. Even the simplest story of a man building a bicycle in his workshop can be deeply moving.
What is most important about beginning a story with the Call to Adventure is that it defines the premise of what the story is about and gives a reason for the Hero to embark. The viewer begins to feel tension from the anticipation of not knowing how this will turn out.
2. TAKING THE FIRST STEPS
The first steps sets the journey in motion and we first witness the Hero's vulnerability about what lies ahead. This creates an empathic connection with the viewer as they identify with the universal emotions being expressed: fear, trepidation, confusion. The emotional connection created in this moment provides an invitation to join the story and share the Hero’s perspective.
3. ENCOUNTERING THE CHALLENGE
Conflict is the essence of drama, but that doesn’t mean your Hero needs to be fighting dragons to be compelling. In brand videos, conflict can be framed as a challenge, where the stakes are raised and the Hero must dig a little deeper to overcome it. You have your viewer’s biggest emotional investment at this point, as the Hero’s actions reflect their own struggles and the desire for a resolution is high.
This is moment of payoff for all the Hero’s effort, and the greatest reward for the viewer, as it affirms that their investment in the Hero’s journey was worthwhile and they vicariously experience the transformation themselves. To see someone transformed in an authentic way gives us hope that we can make great changes in our own lives.
5. RETURNING HOME
The ending has our hero returning home with a greater perspective than when they began. The transformation they experienced allows them to live a better life than before. The viewer has been inspired by the story and can now become the hero of his own life.
THE OPPORTUNITY FOR BRANDS
People who reflect the values of a brand present an amazing opportunity for storytelling. It sends a clear message that the lifeblood of your company is embedded in the human experience. You’re telling the world that people are your heroes, and that their story is your story.