Types of stories: How many are there, and which one are you telling?

Types of stories: How many are there, and which one are you telling?

Storytelling has always been a part of the human experience. However, in this day and age, you may be tempted into thinking that the stories you tell or those told by your brand are all original works. While the details of what your story says will be tailored to your needs, in reality, there are only 7 types of stories.

Types of stories
Creative team working together on new start-up business, sharing, collaboration, optimism. Photo: 10'000 Hours
Source: Getty Images

The fact that there are only 7 types of stories may seem like a short change of sorts from an outsider’s perspective. But when it comes to telling stories of your brand, you may easily fall prey to going for the wrong story and delivery type.

Which type of story are you telling?

The trick to ensuring that your brand tells the right story is to be conscious and aware when picking what works for you from the available stories. From the general types of stories, 7 basic plot examples are usually followed.

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1. Overcoming the Monster

This type of story is rather most prominent, with plot examples of an underdog turning the tables over the big boys. As the name suggests, this type of story is usually a tale of a seemingly minor league player going against the odds and beating the otherwise known dominant force.

In the case of brands and brand awareness, a brand story that follows this plot mainly works in markets that have been in existence for quite a while and have well-known dominators. Before a brand establishes its place in the high table, an "Overcoming the Master" brand story is usually associated with mixed emotions of sympathy and hope from the market.

When your brand is relatively new in a relatively old setup, the market will most likely see the promise your brand offers and hope that you can offer different, if not better. In most cases, when a brand chooses to go with this type of story, it’s usually a case of going all out and hoping that the industry will be kind to you on your way to the top.

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2. Rebirth

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the story of Rebirth is that of a brand taking a second chance, deservedly or otherwise. Aside from the do-over associated with this type of story, when a company tells the story of ‘Rebirth’, it can also make itself known in a newer market.

Suppose your brand already had its hay days and has unfortunately been overtaken by events; the Rebirth plotline should be your go-to when you want to re-establish yourself. Thanks to the internet, the world has become nothing more than a global village, one in which a brand can lose its relevance in an instance or be replaced by a newer kid on the block.

In the story of Rebirth, it doesn’t necessarily have to be one where your brand went out of existence for a while. Instead, your story can be that of wanting to come out as something new. Another great rebirth story is the Easter story.

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3. Quest

Types of stories
Group of diverse businesspeople talking in a meeting. Business team smiling during a meeting. Photo: Luis Alvarez
Source: Getty Images

The story of Quest is that of seemingly throwing caution to the wind and going out into the unknown, and charting your course as you go along. It is one of the best types of stories for kids as they are entertaining. It is also a storyline used a lot in movies.

For your brand, the story of Quest can be one of putting your money where your mouth is and deciding to go all out in something you believe in. For most markets, when a brand chooses that Quest is the way to go, the market will cheer you on and support you, albeit with some reservations.

It’s worth noting that when you decide this story plot is the way to go for your brand, have everything in your power to see to it that you emerge victoriously. Otherwise, if your brand’s Quest doesn’t pan out, the market may at times be overly truthful and convert your story to be that of one who flew too close to the sun.

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4. Journey and Return

Voyage and Return is probably one of the most inspiring story archetypes a brand can tell. The story is usually a case of a brand that went through its worst of times and lived to tell the tale.

For your brand to sell the Journey and Return story, it’s usually a case of your brand going through and living through where others couldn’t. Covid-19 is probably one of the best and most relatable presets a brand can use for its Journey and Return story in this day and age.

When it comes to the pandemic, you can tell your brand’s story as that of one which unexpectedly sailed into unchartered waters but managed to come out strong. On the other hand, the Journey and Return story can, unfortunately, be translated as being over your head and not acknowledging other factors and forces.

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The multiple interpretations of the story notwithstanding, the Journey and Return story genuinely sells a brand as being reliable. In addition, a good story of this kind will demonstrate to others how your brand managed to live through its worst of days and remain firm.

5. Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches is an inspiring story for a brand to tell and one that can be sold the majority in a potential market due to its relatability. When showcasing that your brand truly made the best out of what it had, Rags to Riches is an excellent way to show that your brand can be relied upon when it comes to making the best out of resources.

This type of story makes the masses view your brand as being one of their own. But, thanks to the nature of the majority of people having to start from rock bottom and with odds stacked against them, the story of Rags to Riches portrays your brand as being a hope that reaching the stars is possible.

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To honestly sell your brand’s Rags to Riches story, transparency about how you got to the top is an important element. In addition, having information about how you climbed to the top is critical in determining how your brand would be perceived. Hakainde Hichilema is a classic example of this story.

6. Tragedy

Types of stories
Three Girls in Sportswear relax outside in the Sun. Photo: Catherine Falls Commercial
Source: Getty Images

The story of Tragedy is one that you can use to describe your brand as being a victim of life’s unfairness. Pity and compassion can be thought of as a great way to get to and cement your place in people’s minds.

Naturally, humans connect to the suffering of others because they can relate to it, and they feel that it’s not a feeling that’s too far from them. So the story of Tragedy is usually followed up by the story of rising from the ashes.

7. Comedy

The story of Comedy can be best told by a witty choice of words to build up a context that the audience to your brand can relate to. This is why comedies like Hey Arnold do so well.

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When you exclude instances that your brand’s audience can relate to, your quest to tell the story of Comedy could be dead even before it begins. A great understanding of the audience to your brand is usually the first step to curating this type of story.

When it comes to telling your brand’s story, there is no limit to what you can accomplish with the different types of stories available. However, whichever way you decide to go when telling your brand’s story, you should first ensure you understand your target audience as well as the message you’d like to put across.

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