The Good, the Bad & the Ugly. The strategic usage of characters within storytelling
ABSTRACT Purpose: This study examines how ad/communication bureaus of storytelling view and work with characters in their storytelling, and what strategic considerations they take to this. The aim of this study is to highlight problems and contribute with insights, for how and why characters can be used when applying storytelling for the purpose of building a strong brand. Method: The study has a qualitative research design. Ten semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with individuals working with storytelling at ten different ad/communication bureaus. Findings: This study shows that ad/communication bureaus of storytelling are not giving characters enough attention, and thereby miss out on many strategic aspects for their brand building. By including the self-image of the target group more, as well as incorporating archetypes, the story can evoke strong emotions and reach motivations hidden deep within the consumers’ unconsciousness. Working more with brand archetypes also makes the whole storytelling more cohesive. In addition, when consumers are allowed to be co-creators of the story they become more emotionally immersed with the story, and feel more prone to retell the story to others. Limitations: Theoretically, this study is limited to the strategic aspects of using characters in storytelling for the purpose of brand building. A geographical limitation is that the study was conducted in Sweden and with a sample of Swedish ad/communication bureaus. Value: The paper adds to insights and understanding to the area of storytelling and the role that characters play in the process of building a strong brand. The findings of this study act as a guideline and inspiration to companies who want to apply more persona-based storytelling. Also it will help refine processes for ad/communication bureaus working with storytelling.