Office of Strategic Marketing & Branding







What Luke Skywalker and Yoda have to do with marketing

March 23, 2021
Messaging & copywriting

Writers know that any story can be told in 10 or more ways just by leveraging different hooks, perspectives, and storytelling frameworks. And when you frame stories to engage your audience, they can be incredible marketing tools. One way to achieve that level of engagement is to start by asking yourself this question: "Who's the hero of this story – Yoda or Luke?"

When the university or members of the U of I community are framed as Luke Skywalker (the hero on a quest), prospective students (or any audience) become spectators, observing what makes the U of I great.

When prospective students are the heroes, we become Yoda, the wise guide. This paradigm pushes us to engage our audience by positioning our strengths and accomplishments in the framework of their goals, dreams and potential. Instead of writing a story about a faculty researcher doing amazing work, write a story about how undergraduates can participate in this game-changing research while being inspired and guided by this mentor.

It works for any audience. Donors, for instance, can be the heroes who have goals and dreams that we can help them achieve.

I led an Illinois Webmaster's Workshop on this topic last fall. If you missed it, you can watch the workshop video to find out more about how this "hero's journey" framework fits into our Power of I brand message and how you can leverage these ideas in your day-to-day work. The slide deck is available here.