Holding out for a Hero

Holding out for a Hero

Since the dawn of time, humans have crafted fantastical stories in which they revered extraordinary individuals and their heroic deeds. Oftentimes these were the offspring of gods, but some were mortals who, through sheer dedication, skill, or whims of fate - possessed uncanny abilities that forever set them apart and made them into legends. Without exception, every culture across the globe, regardless of location, level of technological progress, and spiritual beliefs, has them.

The etymology of the word Hero - the Greek ἥρως (hērōs), meaning “protector,” or “defender,” signifies their role as guardians of humanity against the unknowable, the primordial forces of nature, and our own subconscious fears of an uncaring and chaotic world we live in.

In a way, they are the precursors of modern-day superheroes - idealized versions of ourselves, given power and agency to shape reality and guide the advancement of humanity.

Thanks to this conditioning, we tend to look for them in the media we consume - in books, movies, games, and, yes, even in blog posts. Heroes are the ultimate solvers of problems, overcomers of hurdles, deliverers from boredom. We root for them and wish to be (like) them.

And that is why every good story needs one.

Even if you’re writing a business blog. Especially if you’re writing a business blog. When building a brand, your intent should be to use the blog itself to promote and propel your brand recognition. As Wordstream so succinctly puts it: "Send people to your most engaging content rather than sign-up forms."

Storytelling in content requires someone we can identify with - a protagonist. We perceive the events of the story through their eyes, and the author uses them to answer questions in a natural, unobtrusive way. Even outright exposition, that often-maligned narrative technique, doesn’t sound quite as forced when coming from a relatable character. Characters add, well, character to a story.

Now, in this context, a “hero” doesn’t necessarily have to be a person. It can be a tool or a solution to a particular problem. That is how we approach the writing of our articles: there must always be one clear problem (or several interlinked problems which can be taken care of with the same solution) and a single hero - be that one of our employees, our customers, or our software itself - that comes to save the day. This isn’t some revolutionary method - most articles (or, at least, the ones worth reading) operate under similar conditions, but it is something you should always keep in mind.

As an example of a good blog with character (a hero, if you will), let’s take, say, this one that talks about niche blogging. The writer obviously knows his stuff, is respectful of your time, doesn’t treat you with disdain, and offers advice, tips, and solutions. The fact that he writes stories from experience and with a personal flair also gives it both a dose of reliability and makes it a much more enjoyable read.

On the flipside, the internet is chock-full of generic content - and Cracked has a handy list of the types of blogs you should avoid, with most of them being either impersonal (a nicer way of saying dull), or exist solely to ego-stroke and pander to the writer. None of these add any tangible value or serve a purpose.

Think back to all the times you found yourselves reading something that doesn’t actually interest you, but you still kept on scrolling through it, just because it was written in a funny or interesting way, or because it resonated with you on a basic emotional level.

That is the real power of storytelling, and, like we already mentioned - it’s a much better guarantee that your blog will ring honest and true with your readers, than if you merely stuffed it with a copious amount of keywords.

Here at ActiveCollab, we know full well how difficult - and rewarding - it can be to create stories that feature captivating narratives and worthwhile content. In the upcoming next part of the story, we’ll take you through some of our attempts (and failures) to build our own hero, and how we went about it.