In our a recent post we talked about the 7 basic storytelling archetypes and why they help your business connect to your customers. For the rest of the series, we’ll be taking each archetype and breaking down ways in which you can relate them to your company, and more importantly, to your target audience. Giving each archetype a deep look, you can decide which narrative best fits your company and brand.

The Bones Of Rags To Riches

Running a business is hard, no two ways about it. It takes strength of will, dedication, long hours, work, and most of all, passion. That passion translates well to the Rags to Riches archetype. That passion tells your target market that you love what you do so much there’s no way you won’t strive to be the best in your industry. That passion says they can trust you when they purchase your product or service, because you won’t fail them.

Anheuser-Busch ran a Super Bowl LI ad depicting the journey of Adolphus Busch as he emigrated from Germany to the US in the mid 1800s. It was a tough road, with Busch experiencing danger at sea, discrimination and insult, danger when the paddleboat on which he traveled the Mississippi River caught fire, and mud and harsh weather. He finally ended up in St. Louis—the first place someone welcomed him—where he met brewing magnate Eberhard Anheuser, who was one of the few to show him kindness. Busch’s belongings consisted of a stout heart, determination, and the things he could carry on his back, including a journal into which he penned his dreams.

No question, Busch was shown in rags.

  •  He was beaten from a treacherous overseas boat ride, where roiling waves flung him round his bunk, resulting in stitches on his face
  • Tired from the journey into the United States, we see him told over and over again he didn’t belong and should go back home
  • He was wet from abandoning the burning paddleboat
  • Defeated-looking and filthy from slogging through mud and muck in the rain, he was surprised when someone was kind, welcoming him to the city where he would settle. We begin to see things turning around for poor Adolphus.

It’s the American Dream, with countless stories being told of people the world over arriving on our shores with little in their pockets only to create something lasting that lifted them into the kind of life for which everyone strives. We all know how it turned out for the bedraggled yet determined Busch—the Anheuser-Busch label is one of the most ubiquitous brands in American culture today, nearly 200 years later.

That passion tells your target market that you love what you do so much there’s no way you won’t strive to be the best in your industry.

This ad connects to consumers’ tendency to pull for the underdog, the person who fights against seemingly insurmountable odds to become something great—CEO of a large corporation, a famous actor, a world-renowned artist, or someone to remember from history books. It speaks to the audience’s desire to chase dreams, that one day, with enough drive and determination, they too can create something for which they’ll be remembered. And in the meantime, if they have a few Budweisers to remind them of the giants who’ve gone before, so much the better.

Rags to riches storytelling speaks to the dreamer in us all, and by forging that connection between your company’s history and your customer base, you’re essentially saying, “I, too, had a dream, and it was to become a household name,” by making baked goods, brewing fair trade coffee, providing financial services, or whatever industry your company operates within. By connecting with your consumers in this way, you’re saying you understand hardship, and because of that, your company is going to help them navigate theirs, whatever it may be.

Relating Directly to Your Customers

But it’s not just about your business, either. It’s about the customer. They have to put themselves in your shoes, equate their personal struggles with yours, and see similarities that prove to them not only do you get it, but you can help them overcome their troubles to achieve the same success you’ve seen. Making it about the customers, in the end, takes the focus away from you and shows them they, too, can find their way out of tough times and into success and the American Dream, and they should do it via your business. Even if having a Bud may not help them become a Grammy-winning musician directly, remembering that commercial because of that beer could inspire them for the next song they write, the next demo they send out, or the next gig they play. Who knows? It just might be over an Anheuser-Busch brew that they ink a record contract to begin their own American Dream.