We all have our favourite TV dramas, and the stars of the show – the characters – are why we tune in week after week. Write the Talk’s Ru Sedar talks about what makes a character tick, why we love them, and how characters in drama can help your business narrative.
What is it about our favourite characters that make them so addictively watchable? We tuned in to see Breaking Bad’s Walter White descend into the criminal underworld and millions are waiting to see what happens next after Claire Underwood’s steady rise to power in House of Cards.
We can’t keep our eyes off these characters because they’re so well defined. They have traits, back stories and habits that make them feel substantial and whole. When we can guess their motivations and messages, it’s a sure-fire sign of great characterisation. Why? Because we come to understand them as a living, breathing narrative.
All stories carry a narrative. Whether you’re telling someone an anecdote or recalling something complex from memory, you use a narrative to ensure that you – the main character in the story – look and sound great. So, what if you applied the same technique to how you talk about your business? If you had to describe the character of your business, how would you do it? Which aspects of the character would you reveal at the outset and which would emerge over time?
Tell me about yourself
Every story unfolds at its own pace, and there’s always more to characters than meets the eye.
The characters we love are complicated but well-rounded. In Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, unassuming family man Walter White slowly tumbles from his predictable life as a mild-mannered chemistry teacher to become a cold-blooded criminal mastermind.
Claire Underwood’s character in House of Cards unfolds in a similar way. You follow her transformation from a supportive, driven wife and modern Southern belle to a scheming Lady Macbeth so desperate for her share of the power that she’ll stop at nothing to get it.
Both characters share the lighter sides of their personalities straight away, and the heavyweight stuff is left for when the writer thinks you know them well enough. As a viewer and a traveller on the character’s journey, you’re trusted with small pieces of information given at the right time and with the right words. Their stories are so powerful that we can’t help but keep watching.
What’s it all about?
So, what if your business was a character in a long-running drama – what would their traits be? If you could describe them, how would you do it? Uncovering the character of your business and building those traits into your strategy is a great way to create a unique portrayal of your business and grab your audience’s attention.
Once you know your character, it can influence everything: from your branding, to your tone of voice, to the way you introduce yourself at events. It really is that effective.
Building your company’s character can also help you gain your customers’ trust. Using character traits to tell your company story helps to create emotional investment, connecting your customers to your big messages and ultimately building your fanbase.
How? Well, there’s a science to it.
Story can change your brain
You’d better believe it. When you hear a good story, two things happen. Number one: your brain releases oxytocin, the hormone responsible for feelings of empathy towards characters. And number two: your brain releases cortisol, a hormone that focuses your attention. And if it’s a story with a really great character centre stage, guess where your audience’s attention is going to be? That can only be good for business.
How do you look?
Figuring out the character of your business is a chance to get real insights into what you and your people think of your business. The part that’s up to you is how you want to sound and be seen – your customers will listen.
After all that, there’s only one question left to ask: how would you describe your business if it was a character in a long-running drama?
Get in touch to find out more about uncovering the character of your business and keeping your audience gripped.