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  • Writer's pictureAdam Behar

Storytelling Tip: Base Your Characters and Themes on Familiar Archetypes

All communication – a speech, presentation, or ad, for example – is essentially a story. 

So those of us who work in public relations and executive communications need to know storytelling basics. 

Such as, what is an archetype?

It refers to the themes, characters, and story patterns that cut across time, culture, and geography. They are thought to be universal and deeply embedded in our subconscious.

The anti-hero, for example. 

Think Holden Caulfield. Kurt Cobain. Walter White.

The anti-hero represents freedom. He is not bound by the same rules and norms as the rest of us. He thinks different

Tip: Tap into the right archetype and your stories, speeches, and presentations

are considerably more likely to connect!

Remember when surfers, skateboarders, and snowboarders, with their deeply held anti-commercialism ethos, used to epitomize outsider cool? 

Now it's gone mainstream as Madison Avenue seizes the outsider, anti–hero narrative to reach the youth market –– witness Red Bull's foray into skateboard storytelling and Airwalk’s TV ads, which employed an anti-hero persona to engage ad-cynical youth.

And it's not just the youth market.

Fashion and luxury brands are trying to lease a little outsider cool. Consider Jaguar, whose “Good To Be Bad” campaign celebrates villains while positioning Jaguar as an anti-hero luxury brand. 

We can also see the outsider, anti-hero narrative in the rise of the Silicon Valley, nerd-cool ethos, and in the media’s worship of technologists, coders, and hacker-activists.

It’s a familiar storytelling arc:

Outsiders becoming insiders, and insiders becoming outsiders.



How might your company or clients apply the "outsider cool" narrative?

Photo Credits: HBO, "The Hero and the Outlaw" 

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