Foundational Narrative Theory

Vollmond – Pina Bausch

The key steps to unearth the brand’s foundational narrative:


1. Psychological and symbolic satisfaction.

Foundational narratives provide deep psychological satisfaction (Freudian theory).  Strong brands are founded on such deep psychological dimensions:  Dove is about self esteem, Ariel is about purity, Playstation is about the joy of being young, etc…

The first step is to identify the psychological and symbolic satisfactions the brand can offer.


2. Narrative structure

Every single narrative is based on a tension between a protagonist and hostile forces.  The protagonist tries to reach a goal, using tools and protectors to overcome barriers.  Brands do play a narrative role in people’s lives, be it of mentor, protector, ally, or tool.

We run story-telling workshops to identify the brand’s core narrative tension. This is the second step of our Foundational Narrative exploration.


3. Narrative Archetypes

Working with archetypes helps formulate foundational narratives (Barthes, Todorov, Booker). It’s how the brand roots its emotional, psychological and symbolic benefits into the culture. Dove, for example, chose to express its benefit of self esteem by helping women overcome the monster of the beauty industry; Innocent has chosen a “rags to riches” story where virtue leads to success.

This is the third step of our narrative exploratory.

When we can and when it is needed, we also explore local mythologies to root brands in strong culturally relevant mythologies.


4. Narrative substitution

Much of the art of story telling is about replacing elements in an archetypical narrative frame.  We work with contemporary practices of rewriting to generate new narrative forms (Mouwad and Oedipus, Pina Baush and Bartok, but also mainstream rewriting such as The Twilight Zone, Harry Potter, etc…)

That’s the fourth step of our exploration, where we craft a brand narrative to resonate in the culture whilst using contemporary imageries and language.