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Why Your Brand Video Needs a Villain

I think of Lotso from Toy Story 3, Darth Vader from Star Wars, or Hans Gruber from Die Hard, maybe dating myself by these movie references. But the point is, those are great villains. They're excellent villains. And I think that we're all very well aware that a great villain makes for a great story. But it's something that we sort of forget or kind of get turned upside down when we start telling our brand story. And I think it's because sometimes we have ourselves in the wrong role in the story. If we're thinking about ourselves as the hero, then we're sort of looking at the people around us that are causing conflict, like our competitors, or maybe some issue in the marketplace that's a frustrating thing. And we're calling that the villain. And we're trying to make sense of the story we're telling for the customer, but we are using our villain instead of their villain, and it gets kind of complicated.

I think other organizations are just afraid to point at the villain. They sort of are afraid to point out the problem. They just want to offer solutions. They want to talk about solutions, but they don't want to set up why the solution is necessary in the first place. And so we get these kind of villainless stories, which aren't actually really stories at all. And so one of the things that we want to do with our clients is really help them understand who the villain is and the story that they're trying to tell. That oftentimes isn't like a group or an individual person, although it would be great if you could identify or personify your villain. It really oftentimes is an idea.

And so we need to think about our audience as the heroes, and then what is the problem that they're really facing? What's the villain in their story or who's the villain in their story? Oftentimes it's some like broader cultural issue or it's some issue that we have with just like our modern lives that ultimately becomes the villain in the story for our audience. Without the villain, you don't really have any stakes either. And I'll talk about stakes at another time, but I think it's really important for us to kind of make sure that we've got ourselves properly positioned in the story so that we can really identify the true villain in the story and make sure that villain is a villain that's compelling because if it's sort of benign, it's not gonna be a great villain. And therefore the story is gonna feel really muted and kind of just bland.


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