The 7 Stories Every Business Needs to Tell

What if I told you that no matter your culture, language or geographic location, there are seven stories that make up every book, movie and bestseller the world has ever consumed? And that these seven stories are the exact stories your business needs to tell in order to be successful?

Turns out, it’s true!

Literary buffs agree that these seven stories, outlined below, are the foundation for every story ever told.

Which makes sharing your brand message that much easier!

We’ll dive into each type of story, why it’s good for business and how you can start using them to boost engagement, authority and build a raving fan base this very minute!

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1. The Good vs. Bad Story

The oldest and most recognizable storyline, a good Good vs. Bad Story sets the stage for a hero who must defeat an antagonist (aka the bad guy) that threatens them or their homeland. Seen in classics like Beowulf and David & Goliath to Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars or James Bond, it’s simple and easily repeatable.

Good vs. Bad is a natural narrative for challenger brands. These stories work best for businesses up against large societal issues, paradigm shifts or struggles against perceived evil. Nike and Apple are both great examples of brands out to challenge the status quo, take down monsters (internal or external) and prepare us for greatness.

A Good vs Bad Story is filled with uncertainty and tension, triumph against the odds, despair and redemption. While there is eventual success, a true Good vs Bad brand story requires courage to share the ups and downs of business, accepting the possibility of failure and transparency in sharing that story to inspire.

2. The Fall From Grace Story

Our hero has it all (popularity, looks, wealth, love...) when suddenly - POOF! - it’s gone and she goes on a perilous journey to realize her true (often divine) potential. Perfect examples include Cinderella or You’ve Got Mail.

The key moment of any Fall From Grace Story isn’t when the hero starts the story, it’s that moment they lose it all and must dig deep to discover what true wealth is. (Hint: happiness, joy, love and peace are often top of the list)

In business, a Fall From Grace Story inspires and empowers individuals to evolve, grow, expand and learn outside the ideas of physical or external gratification.

3. The Comedy Story

While many people confuse this type of story with giggles and belly laughs, Comedy as a plot is much more complex. Characterized by relationships and clarity, Comedy story-lines draw upon the complexities of life and human connections while holding hope that a simple truth can help clear it all up.

Comedy stories often touch on difficult subjects and are best used to build connections with those subjects and the audience.

Great examples include A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Some Like It Hot, while businesses like Appmesh and The Rainforest Alliance have succeeded in telling great Comedies.

When working with the Comedy Story, focus on communicating clearly to those that matter to you (while adding a few laughs along the way).

4. The Quest Story

In Quest Stories something very specific is lost and the hero (along with a supporting crew) must find it. Obstacles and temptations greet them at every turn, often putting into question values and judgment calls.

The Lord of the Rings is a perfect example of a Quest story.

The difference between a Quest and Journey & Return stories is that a Quest is consciously chosen whereas a Journey & Return isn’t (more on that below).

When using Quest stories in your business, focus on problem-solving stories that require great lengths or steep consequences if not undertaken.

5. The Journey & Return Story

From The Wizard of Oz to Alice in Wonderland, the Journey & Return is all about the journey back home. While Quest stories involve a hero’s conscious choice to leave the comforts of home in the pursuit of something bigger (or for a cause greater than themselves), those involved in Journey & Return stories tend to find themselves there by happenstance.

Think Alice falling down the rabbit hole or Dorothy waking up in Oz.

Overcoming obstacles in new or innovating ways are cornerstones of this story-line, while often finding solutions outside the status quo.

6. The Tragedy Story

Tragedies, much like Comedies, are greatly misunderstood. Not all Tragedies end in disaster. In fact, the most compelling aspect of a Tragedy is the unique characteristic of being inevitable; that no matter what balancing qualities the hero may possess they will still have a flaw that eventually brings them down.

Examples in marketing include PSAs like drunk driving or public safety announcements.

Tragedies prompt audiences to think about how much control they have over their destinies and are a warning of what happens if they don’t change negative behavior.

7. The Rebirth Story

Energizing and emotionally charged, Rebirth stories showcase the power of complete transformation. The premise is simple: a flawed character faces a reckoning (often spiritual in nature) that forces them to change their ways.

Their transformation, once deemed impossible, is now a miracle.

Think of Rebirth stories similar to the Phoenix; from the ashes of the old rise a new and glorious self.

Great examples include A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life.

Choosing the Right Story For Your Business

The great news is, there’s no right or wrong story to tell for your business. In fact, you may have more than one story to share depending on which stage of business you are in - and that’s ok!

The most important thing is that you tell a story true for you.


New to brand storytelling?

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