Building a Story Brand – review & key takeouts

This year I have set myself a challenge to read more. I am trying to get through at least 2 books a month, one of those hopefully helping toward my personal development. I have just finished reading  “Building A Story Brand” by Donald Miller, a book that aims to help you clarify your brand messaging so that customers will listen.

The book is split into three sections, the first focusing on why most marketing fails and largely being down to the messaging companies use to market their products and services. The second section introduces the Story Brand Framework which aims to help you create better brand messaging. The third and final section of the book demonstrates how this messaging should be repeated over and over and used across all your marketing materials. It’s definitely worth a read but here’s a sneak previews of the key points.

Why most marketing fails

Often this is not to do with the actual product or service, it’s the way it’s communicated.

Companies tend to focus on themselves rather than the aspects of their offering that will benefit the consumer.

In doing this the consumer has to work too hard to understand their offering which causes them to lose interest. It is crucial that within the first 15 seconds of a person visiting your website they should be able to tell what it is you offer, how it will benefit them and what they need to do to buy it.

The story brand framework

In the second section of the book Miller introduces the “Story Brand Framework” which uses the seven components that most stories and film plots are made up of to help you write your brand message. We’ve been brought up on stories, they put everything in order so our brains don’t have to work too hard to understand what’s going on, therefore making it the perfect form of communication.

  • A character

First of all, you start with a character, this is your customer or client. You need to position your customer as the main character and hero of the story, not your company. It is important you identify what your customer wants and what benefits your product or service will bring to them.

  • Has a problem

At the beginning of most films it’s all rosy and bright then something comes along and disrupts all this and then the character has a problem on their hands. It’s important that we understand our customers problems and talk about them empathetically. There are three layers of problems; external, internal and philosophical, it is common for companies to just focus on physical, external barriers when really they should be focusing on addressing all three.

  • And meets a guide

This is where we step in. It’s important that we position ourselves as the guide who has come to help them rather than another hero. As a guide it is important that we show empathy towards our customers, by empathising with their problems this will help create a bond of trust. We should refrain from talking too much about ourselves, however we can demonstrate authority through testimonials, statistics, awards, companies we’ve worked with, but it is important that most of our messaging focuses on the needs of the customer.

  • Who gives them a plan

The customer has decided to trust you as a guide but now it is important that we give them a plan that will convince them to place an order or commit. Especially with expensive products or services, customers aren’t going to buy straight away and they might have fears about spending that much money so we need to try and alleviate those worries and break it down into smaller steps for them.

  • And calls them to action

You may have alleviated your customers fears and given them a plan but still they won’t always take action on their own. Calls to action should be clear and repeated over and over, these calls to action should be made up of primary actions such as “buy now” or “book a meeting” and secondary calls to action which offer less risk but still allow customers to learn more about your business and build up trust. These could be actions such as “sign up to our newsletter” or “download our brochure.”

  • That helps them avoid failure

We don’t want to be a fear monger but we need to show customers what they’ll lose if they don’t invest in our products or services. We need to remind them that by following our plan and trusting us as their guide will help them avoid any possible failures.  

  • And ends in a success

Your customer needs to know what their lives will look like once they buy into our product or service, we should tell this early on so they know what they should expect and what they can hope for, because we all enjoy a happy ending!

Implementing the Story Brand Framework

At the end of each chapter of section 2 of the book, Miller sets you a range of tasks to help you consider the messages you should be telling your customers. Once you’ve considered all these points you should be able to create a statement that will engage customers and hope you grow your business. Everyone in the company should be able to repeat this message and it should be placed on your website and across all marketing materials.

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I really enjoyed the book and as I was reading it I was constantly scribbling down key points in my notebook. I provided training to members of the agency on the key points from the book to get them to consider how we at Clicky position ourselves to our clients and whether there was room for improvement.

Here at Clicky we have recently undergone a brand refresh and one of the aspects we have addressed is our brand messaging. After the refresh we were all given thorough training on the new brand, not only on the new visual elements but our messaging too. Our strapline “Your digital growth partner” definitely complies to the rules of the story brand framework. We position ourselves not as a hero but as a partner you can trust to help grow your business digitally.

Written by Hayley Sackett

Lead Digital Designer