Biology, Hollywood, and your brand
January 14, 2022
The brain is always trying to survive and thrive.
At the simplest biological level, our brains are tasked with keeping us alive, which means we’re programmed to constantly scan our environments for information that will help us. In the caveman era, this information might have been ‘stay away from the big mammoth’, or ‘that’s a bad mushroom’.
These days our definition of what it means to survive is a little different, but generally speaking, people seek opportunities to move ahead in life by, for instance, saving money, acquiring greater status, or associating with a particular group. What it boils down to is the idea that everyone is trying to advance their lives in a positive direction.
The brain is also constantly at work on conserving calories (no, not like that). Processing information requires energy—calories—so the human brain is designed to ignore extraneous or unnecessary information in order to maintain adequate energy. Humans are very good at tuning out when information isn’t linked to their ability to survive (or thrive).
What does all this have to do with your brand? Stick with us here. Think of any Hollywood blockbuster with a hero. Your customer’s stakes might not be quite as high as survival in the literal life-or-death sense, but the basic principles of the hero’s journey can be applied to your customer’s journey, as our friends at Business Made Simple explain.
The following steps provide a framework for storytelling in cinema. By borrowing it and applying it to all of your brand touchpoints, you can help your customers to survive—and, yep, thrive.
1. A character...
To get started, you need to invite customers into your story, and create a desire for your product or service. We all suffer from main character syndrome sometimes, but remember: the customer, not your brand, is the hero of this journey.
2. ...with a problem...
In films, TV, books, and games, the audience is hooked when the main character encounters conflict. In your customer’s journey, this conflict is whatever problem they’re encountering. Your job here is to show empathy with your customer and their source of frustration.
3. ...meets a guide...
In fiction (and often in real life) characters in trouble can’t solve their own problems—otherwise they’d never have gotten into trouble in the first place. Position your brand as the guide.
4. ...who gives them a plan…
This part is pretty reasonable: customers trust a guide with a clear plan. If you’re selling products online, then the plan is pretty self-explanatory and, hopefully, straightforward for customers!
5. ...and calls them to action.
Screenwriting 101 meets Marketing 101: a hero (or customer) has to be called to action. Unless people are challenged or asked to take a leap, they won’t.
6. This results in success...
Never assume that people understand how your brand can improve their lives—tell them! Ensure prospective customers know what their life will look like if they take that leap we spoke about in the last step, and engage with your business.
This is the other side of the coin, which takes us all the way back to the idea of survival. Everyone—whether they’re movie heroes or humble real-life bean-counters—is trying to avoid a tragic ending. We’re motivated to avoid failure or experience success. Let your customer know what’s at stake if they don’t do business with you.
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