#StartYourStory: The Last Jedi, Holstee and the myth gap

#StartYourStory is an ongoing series that explores storytelling lessons from popular media and how we can apply them to branding our organizations and businesses.

By Scott Swanson

The concept of the “myth gap” plays a vital role in the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Let this be your spoiler warning—but come on, you’ve seen The Last Jedi, right?

At the beginning of the movie, Luke Skywalker is broken, having lost his nephew and pupil Ben Solo to the Dark Side and the evil Supreme Leader Snoke. He blames his failure on his hubris—for believing too much in his own myth.

“Leia blamed Snoke, but it was me,” he says. “I failed. Because I was Luke Skywalker. Jedi Master. A legend.”

Being the heroic archetype that he is, Luke ultimately decides to rectify his mistake – and it turns out he understands the power of a good story. Through his dramatic and symbolic appearance in the movie’s final battle, he reignites his own legend and gives the Resistance a new myth to believe in. And as we know, myths are powerful tools that can encourage listeners to take action – whether your audience is the entire galaxy or indoor cycling enthusiasts.

In his highly recommended book Winning the Story Wars, Jonah Sachs argues that life is changing so fast that we need new myths to help us better understand our daily existence. He calls this the “myth gap.” As an example, he points to the idea of the American Dream—that anyone, regardless of their background, can rise up and succeed in America. For many, that concept has become non-functional in recent years, and in its place rose counter-narratives driven by the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

Luke learns the hard way that the old myths aren’t working for him, so he creates a new myth in its place. Marketers, too, have an opportunity to step into this gap and create new myths around their brands.

Take Holstee—a Moonsail North favorite. For many, today’s world is too fast, too busy, too connected, too screen-focused. This is a relatively new problem, one that requires new stories to make sense of it. In response, Holstee created a brand that’s all about slowing down and focusing on what’s really important.

Here at Moonsail North, we recognized our own opportunity to bridge the gap. We saw an industry that sometimes missed the forest for the trees, that was too focused on tactics and too often overwhelmed audiences with information. We knew that you can’t just appeal to the head – you have to speak to the heart, as well. That’s why we pledged to strip things back and focus on telling a story. It’s a method that’s backed not only by science, but by thousands of years of human behavior.

Are there myth gaps in your industry? I bet if you take a close look, you will find some. Your audiences are eager to hear new stories that will fill that gap and help guide their actions. It’s an opportunity that marketers can’t afford to miss.