The Heroine’s Journey

And how it’s different than the Hero’s Journey

The hero’s journey is a popular storytelling and marketing tool that connects with consumers on a subconscious level. It has been used to speak to consumers and their desires. But there is a complementary heroine’s journey in storytelling as well. Populated by Maureen Murdock, the heroine’s journey follows a female story – and it’s a story that has been overlooked in marketing for too long. 

Understanding the differences between these journeys, and how to leverage those differences will help you connect with your female audience on a deeper, more authentic level. 

Let’s use 2 Disney movies as examples to help us understand the journey through each element. It is also worth noting that there are more elements than those listed.

The Hero’s Journey

This is the story arc that we are all familiar with. It is a story of growth and transformation, and the arc has key elements that we see over and over again in storytelling. These elements include:

ElementDescriptionExample (Hercules)
The Call to AdventureThis disrupts their routine and prompts them to leave their comfort zone.Hercules is born as a god but is stripped of his immortality. This sets him on his journey to reclaim his godhood.
Meeting a MentorThe Hero encounters a guide or mentor.Hercules meets Philoctetes (Phil), who becomes his mentor and trains him to become a hero.
Tests & OrdealsThis moment tests their resolve and commitment, these are most often external tests. Hercules faces numerous challenges, including battling the Hydra. He encounters enemies like Hades and his minions.
The ResurrectionThey confront their deepest fears and emerge transformed.Hercules’ resurrection occurs when he proves himself as a true hero by saving Megara and defeating Hades. He has earned his godhood.

The Heroine’s Journey 

It is similar – but different. 

ElementDescriptionExample (Moana)
SeparationThey embark on a journey that takes them away from familiar roles and expectations.Moana’s love for the ocean is forbidden by her father. This fuels her desire to explore.
Trials & OrdealsHeroines face challenges, tests, and trials.These experiences shape their character and reveal their internal strengths and vulnerabilities.Moana overcomes challenges like treacherous waters, monsters, and confronting the demigod Maui, testing her courage, determination, and resourcefulness.
Gathering AlliesHeroines tend to find allies, often in unlikely forms. They form partnerships rather than mentorships. Moana’s grandmother appears as a guiding force, encouraging her to trust in herself. She also finds the ocean and ally, and – eventually – Maui.
HealingHeroines reconcile with the past. This healing allows them to integrate wisdom and power.Moana reconciles with her father, honors her grandmother, and restores harmony by leading her people into an era of discovery.

Key Differences & How to Market to Them

The hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey have key differences to use in marketing to women. The heroine’s journey can be a powerful tool to connect with women in new ways.

External vs Internal

While the hero’s journey emphasizes external action and adventure, the heroine’s journey focuses on internal growth and self-discovery. This contrast points sharply to the female focus on improving themselves, showing up as their best self, and authentically connecting with their world. Women tend to seek a deeper understanding of themselves and their world. 

Mentor vs Ally

Heroes find a mentor, while heroines seek allyship. When making purchasing decisions, women will often lean on people they know and trust to help them make a decision. They are looking for people like them. This is part of the reason why influencers can be so impactful in marketing today. If a woman identifies with someone, and they recommend a brand, there is automatic trust and authority in that brand. For women, often the recommendation from a friend is more valuable than other value ques such as price, celebrity endorsement, or expensive advertisements. 

Resurrection vs Healing

Similar to the external and internal nature of the journeys, hero’s journeys end in a resurrection, which is often an external rebirth into a new world where they are seen as a hero – this is the ultimate goal. Heroines, on the other hand, seek healing a relationship as the ultimate goal. This speaks to the importance of community for women, and how leveraging community building with your brand can improve your connection with women in your target audience. 

Effectively marketing to women takes some added nuance – but its well worth the investment. By embracing the Heroine’s Journey in your marketing efforts, you can authentically connect with women and create lasting impact in your target audience. Want to discuss further? Get in touch with us to see how we can level up your marketing efforts.