Building a StoryBrand

book: Building a Story Brand
author: Donald Miller

Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand is an extremely insightful book that’s packed with marketing information you can reference again and again.

general overview

the book teaches you to think of your customer as the protagonist in your brand’s story. the brand is not the hero, the customer is the hero.

Miller explains that one must invite customers into a story, rather than tell them your story. he claims that it’s the best way to engage your customers.

StoryBrand 7 Framework (SB7)

  1. a real character – make the customer the hero (not your brand) of your message
  2. with a problem – customers buy solutions to their internal problems, not external problems
  3. meets a guide – customers aren’t looking for heroes, they’re always looking for a guide
  4. who gives them a plan – customers trust a guide who has a plan, especially if it’s based on experience
  5. that calls them to action – people prefer to do nothing and will not take action until they are challenged
  6. so they avoid failure – every person on the planet is trying to avoid a tragic ending
  7. and end up succeeding – never assume people understand how your brand can change them – tell them

to elaborate further…

a character

“Nobody will listen to you if your message isn’t clear, no matter how expensive your marketing material may be.” – Donald Miller

you must be clear about who you’re helping. Targeting everyone is just as similar as targeting no one. You need to strictly define who you’re helping.

with a problem

“The only reason our customers buy from us is because the external problems we solve are frustrating them in some way. If we can identify that frustration, put it into words, and offer to resolve it along with the original external problem, something special happens. We bond with our customers because we’ve positioned ourselves more deeply into their narrative.” – Donald Miller

if you have no understanding of the problem the user is facing, and can’t define it, then how will you know you’ve been effective? The first step towards helping the hero is clarifying the problem he/she is facing.

meets a guide

“The guide doesn’t have to be perfect, but the guide needs to have serious experience helping other heroes win the day.” – Donald Miller

an insightful guide is one who’s empathetic. he or she has faced the same problems that the hero is facing. the guide offers advice and wisdom in hindsight. guides share what they would have done differently, knowing what they know now.

who gives them a plan

“The key to the success of any plan is to alleviate confusion for our customers. What steps do they need to take to do business with you? Spell out those steps, and it’ll be as though you’ve paved a sidewalk through a field. More people will cross the field.” – Donald Miller

be sure to tell the hero why you’re suggesting the path that you’re suggesting. if they don’t agree with the plan, then you must redefine the problem until the hero agrees on the plan.

that calls them to action

“People are drawn to clarity and away from confusion. Having clear calls to action means customers aren’t confused about the actions they need to take to do business with you.” – Donald Miller

a guide may motivate the hero, but cannot actually force him/her to act. like the saying goes, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink.’

so they avoid failure

“Brands that don’t warn their customers about what could happen if they don’t buy their products fail to answer the so what questions every customer is secretly asking.” – Donald Miller

it’s required to illustrate to the hero what could happen if no action is taken. it’ll motivate the hero to act on the plan you’ve collaboratively setup.

and end up succeeding

“People are drawn to transformation. When they see transformation in others, they want it for themselves. The more we feature the transformative-journey our customers have experienced, the faster our business will grow.” – Donald Miller

never assume that people understand how your brand can change their lives. it’s pertinent that you tell them!

final thoughts

there are three very important ways good storytellers bring about a happy ending. each of these satisfies three central psychological desires of all humans. they enable their hero to achieve one of the following:

  1. win some sort of power or position/status
  2. be unified with somebody or something that makes them whole
  3. experience some self-realization that makes them whole

the SB7 framework can just as effectively be used internally within your company to help your organization to transform your employee experience and company culture.

this book is a very practical guide to implementing clear, concise and engaging marketing that has the ability to grab and hold onto your customer’s attention.