Table of Contents
What is “Building a StoryBrand”?
“Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” is a book written by Donald Miller. Published in 2017, it offers a framework for businesses and individuals to effectively communicate their brand message to their target audience using the power of storytelling.
The book introduces the concept of the StoryBrand Framework, which is based on the idea that every effective marketing message should follow the structure of a compelling story. Donald Miller suggests that businesses should position themselves as the guide (or mentor) to their customers, who are the heroes on a journey. By clarifying the roles and challenges of both the business and the customer, a powerful and engaging narrative can be created.
The StoryBrand Framework consists of seven key components:
- A Character: Your customer is the hero of the story.
- Has a Problem: Heroes encounter challenges and obstacles.
- And Meets a Guide: Businesses should position themselves as the knowledgeable and trustworthy guide.
- Who Gives Them a Plan: The guide provides a clear path for the hero.
- And Calls Them to Action (CTA): Businesses should clearly tell customers what to do next.
- That Helps Them Avoid Failure: Describe the negative consequences of inaction.
- And Ends in a Success: Paint a picture of the positive outcome customers can achieve with your product or service.
The book emphasizes the importance of creating a clear and engaging message that resonates with your customers by following this framework. It suggests that businesses often make the mistake of making themselves the hero of the story, which can be off-putting to potential customers. Instead, they should focus on making the customer the hero and positioning themselves as the guide to help them achieve their goals.
“Building a StoryBrand” is popular among marketers and business leaders because it provides a practical and actionable approach to improving brand messaging and customer engagement. It can help businesses better connect with their audience and ultimately grow their customer base.
By putting the customer in the role of the hero, you make your brand messaging customer-centric and relatable. This is a fundamental principle of the StoryBrand Framework, setting the stage for the subsequent components, where you guide the hero, offer a plan, and lead them to success by using your products or services. This approach can lead to more effective and persuasive marketing and messaging, as it directly addresses the needs and aspirations of your target audience.
- Customer as the Hero: In traditional marketing, businesses often cast themselves as the hero, boasting about their products or services. However, the StoryBrand approach suggests that customers are naturally drawn to stories where they can see themselves as the main character. Your customers are the heroes of their own stories, facing challenges, seeking solutions, and pursuing their goals. Your role as a business is to acknowledge and support their journey.
- Identifying with Your Customer: By understanding your customer’s desires, fears, and aspirations, you can create a message that resonates with them. This involves knowing their pain points, what they’re trying to achieve, and what obstacles they face. When you acknowledge these aspects in your messaging, your customers are more likely to relate to your brand.
- Building Empathy: Positioning your customer as the hero demonstrates empathy and a customer-centric approach. It shows that your business genuinely cares about solving their problems and helping them achieve success.
- Creating Engagement: When you make the customer the hero of your story, your marketing message becomes more engaging and relatable. People pay more attention when they see themselves in a story and believe your brand can help them on their journey.
“Has a Problem”
By including this component in your brand messaging, you make your marketing more customer-centric and relatable. It also sets up the narrative structure that makes your brand the solution to your customers’ problems. Ultimately, this can lead to more effective and persuasive marketing, as it directly addresses the challenges and pain points of your target audience and positions your brand as the solution they need.
- Acknowledge Customer Pain Points: To effectively engage your audience, it’s essential to acknowledge the specific pain points, challenges, or obstacles that your customers are encountering. This demonstrates that you understand their needs and frustrations. For example, if you’re a fitness coach, your customers’ problems might include lack of time to work out, difficulty staying motivated, or struggling to reach their fitness goals.
- Create a Connection: Identifying these problems creates an immediate connection with your customers. They are more likely to pay attention to your message when they see that you’re aware of and sensitive to their challenges.
- Emphasize the Need for a Solution: By highlighting the problems, you are also emphasizing the need for a solution. This sets the stage for your brand to step in as the guide and provide the solution to their issues.
- Show Empathy: Demonstrating empathy and understanding for the difficulties your customers face helps build trust and rapport. It shows that you’re not just interested in selling a product but genuinely care about helping them overcome their obstacles.
- Lead to the Next Steps: Component 2 segues into the subsequent components of the StoryBrand Framework by setting up the need for a guide (your brand) to offer a plan and ultimately lead the hero (your customer) to success.
“And Meets a Guide”
By taking on the guide role in your brand’s messaging, you create a strong narrative structure that empowers your customers. They see your brand as the solution to their problems and a trusted source of support and guidance. This not only builds rapport and trust but also lays the groundwork for the subsequent components of the StoryBrand Framework, such as offering a plan and leading to success.
- Guide Role: In storytelling and marketing, the guide is a character who has experience, knowledge, and wisdom. They understand the hero’s challenges and have the tools to help the hero overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. Your business must assume this guide role in your customer’s story.
- Expertise and Trustworthiness: Positioning your brand as the guide implies that you have the expertise and solutions to help your customers. You are the trusted source, and your guidance is reliable. This fosters trust and credibility, which are crucial for gaining customer confidence.
- Support and Assistance: The guide is there to support the hero. In a business context, this means providing your customers with the products, services, or information they need to overcome their challenges and reach their objectives.
- Clear Leadership: As the guide, you should provide clear direction and leadership. This can involve offering a plan, setting expectations, and showing your customers the path to success. When customers are uncertain about their journey, they look to the guide for guidance.
- Empathy and Understanding: Just as in Component 1, you should continue to demonstrate empathy and understanding for your customers. Let them know that you are aware of their needs and challenges, and that you’re genuinely interested in helping them succeed.
- Inspire Confidence: Your role as the guide should inspire confidence in your customers. They should believe that with your help, they can overcome their problems and achieve their goals.
“Who Gives Them a Plan”
Component 4 plays a critical role in the overall StoryBrand Framework by demonstrating that your business is not just a passive observer but an active participant in your customer’s journey. By providing a clear plan, you make the hero’s path more manageable and show that you are the guide who can help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals. This structure sets the stage for the subsequent components of the framework, ultimately leading to the hero’s success with your product or service.
- Providing Clarity: The hero (your customer) is typically facing obstacles and uncertainties. Your role as the guide is to provide a clear and simple plan that outlines the steps or actions the hero needs to take to overcome their challenges. Clarity is key, as it reduces confusion and makes the path forward more manageable.
- Taking Initiative: By offering a plan, you demonstrate leadership and a proactive approach to helping your customer. It shows that you have a well-thought-out strategy for success, and you’re not leaving your customer to figure things out on their own.
- Eliminating Barriers: A good plan should address potential roadblocks or barriers that the hero might encounter and provide solutions or contingencies. This helps the hero navigate challenges with greater ease.
- Setting Expectations: The plan should set clear expectations about what the customer can achieve and when. It gives your customers a sense of purpose and direction, helping them stay motivated and committed to their journey.
- Demonstrating Value: Offering a plan also highlights the value of your product or service. It shows how your offerings are an integral part of the hero’s success. This can be a persuasive element in your marketing message.
- Motivation: A well-structured plan can be motivating for the hero. It gives them a sense of control and purpose, which can boost their confidence and drive to take action.
“And Calls Them to Action (CTA)”
By providing a clear call to action (CTA), you make it easy for the hero (your customer) to take the next step and continue their journey with your guidance. This component, along with the previous ones, helps create a structured and engaging narrative that leads to customer success, and it sets the stage for the final components of the StoryBrand Framework, which describe the potential outcomes and positive transformations your customers can experience with your product or service.
- Direct Guidance: A strong CTA is about giving your customers explicit instructions on what they should do next. It removes ambiguity and makes it easy for them to take action.
- Focusing on the Goal: The CTA should align with the hero’s goal or the desired outcome you’ve outlined in the previous components. It reinforces the idea that taking action with your guidance will lead to success.
- Making It Simple: The CTA should be clear, concise, and straightforward. It can be in the form of a button on a website, a phone call to your sales team, or a visit to your store. Whatever the action is, it should be easy to understand and execute.
- Creating a Sense of Urgency: Effective CTAs often include an element of urgency. You can encourage your customers to act now by highlighting limited-time offers, discounts, or the benefits of not delaying their decision.
- Reinforcing Value: Your CTA should remind customers of the value they’ll receive by taking action. It’s an opportunity to reiterate the benefits of your product or service and why it’s the right solution for them.
- Multiple CTAs: Depending on your customer’s journey, you may have different CTAs at different stages. For example, you might have a CTA for initial contact, one for making a purchase, and another for referring a friend. Each CTA should be contextually relevant.
- Measuring Engagement: CTAs are also valuable for tracking customer engagement and conversion rates. You can analyze which CTAs are most effective in guiding customers toward their desired outcomes.
“That Helps Them Avoid Failure”
Component 6 plays a crucial role in creating a sense of urgency and motivation for your customers. By highlighting the potential negative consequences of inaction, you provide a strong incentive for them to act and engage with your brand as the guide to success. This component sets the stage for the final part of the StoryBrand Framework, where you describe the positive transformation and success that your customers can achieve through your product or service.
- Highlighting Consequences: This component focuses on the “cost of inaction.” By illustrating what could go wrong if your customer doesn’t take the recommended steps, you create a sense of urgency and motivation. Customers become more aware of the risks or problems they may encounter by not engaging with your product or service.
- Raising Awareness: Sometimes, customers may not fully realize the negative consequences of their current situation or inaction. By clearly articulating these potential pitfalls, you bring these issues to their attention, making them more receptive to your guidance and solution.
- Emphasizing the Value of Your Solution: Describing the negative consequences can help customers see the value of your product or service. They understand that your offering can help them avoid these undesirable outcomes, making your solution more appealing.
- Creating a Contrast: By juxtaposing the negative consequences with the positive transformation that your product or service can provide (as described in Component 7), you create a strong contrast in the customer’s mind. This contrast helps them see the benefits of taking action and how your brand can help them avoid failure.
- Motivation for Action: Fear of failure or the desire to avoid negative outcomes can be powerful motivators. When customers understand what’s at stake, they are more likely to take the recommended action and engage with your business.
“And Ends in a Success”
By describing the positive outcomes and success that your customer can achieve, you inspire them and give them a clear vision of the better future they can attain. This component serves as the culmination of the StoryBrand Framework, reinforcing the idea that your product or service is the key to their transformation. It’s a powerful motivator that encourages your customers to act and engage with your brand, ultimately leading to their success.
- Positive Outcome: This component is about painting a vivid picture of the benefits and positive changes that your customer will experience by using your product or service. It’s the ultimate reward for taking action and following your guidance.
- Creating Aspirations: By describing success, you create aspirations in your customer’s mind. You help them envision a better future, which is a powerful motivator for action. It’s the “promised land” that your customer is working toward.
- Emotional Connection: Success stories and positive outcomes can create emotional connections with your audience. When customers see the real and tangible benefits they can achieve, it resonates with them on a personal level.
- Demonstrating Value: This is where you demonstrate the full value of your product or service. It shows how it can truly transform the lives or businesses of your customers for the better.
- Reinforcement: Component 7 reinforces the value and benefits that you’ve hinted at in previous components of the StoryBrand Framework. It helps customers connect the dots between the challenges they face, the guidance you offer, and the positive results they can achieve.
- Overcoming Objections: Describing the success that’s possible with your offering can help address any remaining objections or hesitations that your customers might have. It’s a persuasive tool that encourages them to take the final step.
- “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath: This book explores what makes certain ideas or messages memorable and how to make your own ideas stick in the minds of your audience.
- “All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works—and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All” by Seth Godin: Seth Godin shares insights on the power of storytelling and authenticity in marketing.
- “Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age” by Jonah Berger: This book delves into the science of why things go viral and how you can create content and messages that catch on.
- “Brand Storytelling: Put Customers at the Heart of Your Brand Story” by Miri Rodriguez: A guide to crafting brand stories that resonate with your audience and foster genuine connections.
- “The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes” by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson: This book explores the use of archetypes in branding and how they can help create a strong brand identity.
- “Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives” by Anese Cavanaugh: A book that focuses on creating a positive and influential culture within your organization.
- “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships” by Andrew M. Davis: This book explores the concept of brand partnerships and how they can help your brand tell a more compelling story.
- “The Art of Storytelling: Easy Steps to Presenting an Unforgettable Story” by John Walsh: A resource for improving your storytelling skills, which are crucial for effective branding.
- “Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth” by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin: A deep dive into how word-of-mouth marketing can be a powerful tool in your branding efforts.