The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell

No storytelling model captures my imagination quite like The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell (1904–1987). Thanks to my book illustrator, Ashley Boyd, it looks like this:

To create this model Campbell studied thousands of stories, genres, mythologies and writings from across the world in a quest to unlock storytelling’s common themes and narrative threads. Thinking about it as a monomyth, or a single myth, is the key to understanding its profound insight.


His argument is that all stories follow the same pattern or journey from the known world to unknown world, and back again. A simple example is leaving your home in the morning (known world), going on a holiday to a new location (unknown world), and returning home (to the known world) again.


We’ll unpack it below, but Campbell’s legacy is one we can’t ignore in brand storytelling. Regardless of whether you’re the brand or the customer, we all live in a complex, fascinating world in which everyone is constantly shifting between known and unknown environments. Comfort and safety are traded for discomfort and danger, before resolving issues and returning back to comfort.


I think about this model all the time. Once the monomyth sinks in, you start seeing evidence of it everywhere: religious traditions, cultural mythologies, films, corporate history, the rise and fall of nations, governments, and even the microcosm of your own family. The penny dropped for me when ..."


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