We’ve found that thinking about brand personality is a handy way of helping companies understand how they relate to their customers. And nobody builds better personalities and characters than Hollywood. So we’ve taken a look at how Hollywood character types relate to business brands, and how you can use this to develop your brand.

You’ll read about:

  • How Hollywood uses myth to inspire stories
  • The eight basic character types in film
  • The way those character types map onto brands
  • What that means for your brand
  • Where to go to explore these ideas

How Hollywood uses myth

Hollywood’s storytellers have always drawn on ancient myths to tell blockbusting modern stories.

Sometimes the inspiration’s very direct. In 2004 the Iliad resurfaced as Brad Pitt vehicle Troy. OK, it wasn’t a great movie – but it took $497,000,000 worldwide. Back in 2000, the Coen Brothers based O Brother Where Art Thou? on The Odyssey. It won an Oscar and four BAFTAs.

And that’s just for starters. King Arthur, Snow White, Robin Hood, Mulan, Thor and Loki, the Little Mermaid, Beowulf and many others have all recently been given the big screen treatment and done well at the box office.

Sometimes, Hollywood’s a bit more subtle about it. One person who’s very well known for that is screen doctor Christopher Vogler. He’s spent a lot of time thinking about how myth works. He believes that all myths are, at heart, based on one archetypal story structure.

That structure’s centred on a hero (of course). As the hero goes through the story, he or she meets eight different types of character. Some of them are helpful, and some of them aren’t.

The eight basic character types

Vogler defines four helpful character types:

  1. A herald motivates the hero by making it clear that things really have to change, like Princess Leia’s hologram does at the start of Star Wars.
  2. An ally gives specific, practical help along the way, often keeping things cheerful too. Think Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings, or Bridget Jones’ friends in Bridget Jones’ Diary.

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