July 10, 2020 Lisa Aspeling

Be the Guide, Not the Hero

Today I want to chat through one of the things I’ve learned from New York Times Bestselling author, Donald Miller. He talks about how brands should position themselves as the Guide in their customers’ stories and NOT the Hero.

While this feels like counter-intuitive advice, Don’s thinking is backed up by how the human brain works. Since it’s by far the hardest working organ in the human body, it’s designed to conserve as much energy as possible in case there’s a threat that needs a quick response.

While few of us need our brains primed to help us run away from a lion attack, if we want people to listen to what we’re telling them about our product or service we need to appeal to the brain’s priorities: to survive and thrive!

Sleek, simple messaging means the brain has an easier time of filtering your brand’s information to weigh up whether it’s useful to for surviving and thriving!

The Power of Stories

While one area we need to apply this to is our marketing messaging, another thing that appeals to our primitive brain systems is stories. Stories are constructs that make it easy for our brains to process information, which is why I’m fascinated by Don’s advice to brands in this area. While it’s so natural to want to position ourselves as the Hero of the story, Don advises against it.

According to Don, the best way to connect with your customers or your niche is to make THEM the hero of the story.

But where does that leave your brand? The best role for your brand to play is the role of the Guide. The guide’s sole purpose is to enter the Hero’s story to help them solve their problem. That’s it! Because without intervention or assistance from a Guide figure, our movie hero can’t succeed.

Positioning our brands as the experts who have the solution to the Hero’s problems makes us indispensable in the lives of our customers.

Examples of Guides from Hit Films

To help illustrate how this works, I’ve picked some well known movie characters who play the role of the Guide:

Morpheus becomes Neo’s guide when he chooses to be unplugged from The Matrix.

In the Matrix – Neo is the hero who is unplugged from the oppressive Matrix system, while the role of Morpheus is to teach Neo how to navigate the brand new world he has entered.

Mr Myagi teaches Daniel karate to help him defend himself from his bullies.

In The Karate Kid the teenage character, Daniel LeRusso, gets karate lessons from his Guide, Mr Myagi, so he can defend himself from some bullies and eventually prove his worth at a karate tournament.

King George VI with his speech and language therapist.

In the film The King’s Speech, King George VI struggles with a stammer and very soon into his reign he has to do a speech that will be broadcast to millions of listeners around the world. He seeks out the help of an expert speech therapist who must guide him through the ordeal.

I think you get the picture! Let’s make this personal. If you were to look at your brand’s messaging, have you positioned your brand as the Hero or as the Guide? We’d love to hear from you! Slide into our DMs on Facebook or Instagram to start the conversation.

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