things we talk about.

The latest trends and insights from our team.
5 June 2020

telling a brand story.

The three-act structure.

Think of your favourite story. It could be a film or a book or an ad. Now think about its structure. Are there recognisable ‘phases’ to it? It is likely that it will be divided into a beginning, a middle and an end.

This is because most stories conform to a three-act structure:
  • Act 1 is the beginning and ‘sets up’ the story. It introduces us to a character or ‘hero’ with a particular set of circumstances (in marketing the character is often the brand).
  • Act 2 forms the middle and creates the ‘conflict’. The character undergoes some kind of struggle.
  • Act 3 forms the end or ‘resolution’. We see our ‘hero’ ultimately achieving their goal.
This approach is used in some of the most successful stories of all time: Star Wars, Harry Potter and many others. According to Richard Krevolin, “The essence of story is someone overcoming tremendous obstacles (internal or external) to reach a desired goal.” 

We can also look at it like this:

When using the three-act structure it’s also worth remembering you can swap the order, this can also help to make it stand out more.

Humans like frameworks that help us to make sense of things. Think about how your story appeals to our innate desire for structure.

Here are some of our favourite ads that show the structure in use:
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