Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller

Donald Miller has a simple and powerful message for us in Building A StoryBrand – that your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand.

It’s a secret that the world’s most successful companies understand, and Miller has boiled it down into an easy-to-follow, 7-step system you can use to grow your business.

But before we get into that system, let’s talk about why it’s so important to have exquisite clarity around your message.

The Importance of Message Clarity

Simply put, the more simple and clear a message is, the easier it is for the brain to digest.

Most people understand this intuitively, but seem to forget it when crafting their brand messaging. They don’t focus on the aspects of their offers that help people survive and thrive, and they make their customers use too much energy figuring out what the offering is.

When a prospect comes to your website or looks at any of your marketing material, they should be able to figure out three things within the first 5 seconds: what you offer, how it will make their lives better, and what they need to do in order to buy it.

The StoryBrand method solves this problem by focusing on telling a story, with your customer as the hero. As Miller points out, every great story follows a similar formula:

A CHARACTER who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, gives them a PLAN, and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS.

Let’s look at each of those things in turn.

Principle 1: The Customer is the Hero, Not Your Brand

The most important business challenge for you as a business leader is to define something simple and relevant to your customers, and become known for delivering on that.

There are a few things you need to get right at this stage.

Open Up a Story Gap

The first thing that all great stories do is open up a gap between where the hero is right now, and where they want to go. Once that happens, the brain starts working on filling in that gap. For instance, Jason Bourne wakes up with amnesia, and we wonder whether or not he’ll figure out what happened to him.

When we define something that our prospects and customers want, you create a story gap in their mind with them wondering if you can fill the gap for them.

Choose a Single Focus

You’ve heard this before, but you can’t focus on multiple things. Your brand needs to be known for one story, and one story only.

Choose a Desire Relevant to Their Survival

It’s not enough to create any old desire, it needs to be something that is relevant to their survival, which these days means things like:

  • conserving financial resources;
  • considering time;
  • building social networks;
  • gaining status;
  • accumulating resources;
  • the innate desire to be generous; or
  • the desire for meaning.

Principle 2: Customers Buy Solutions To Internal Problems

All great stories include problems that the hero must overcome. When we clearly identify these problems we increase the customer’s interest in the story we are telling.

Every Story Needs a Villain

Every great story includes a villain that needs to be defeated. There are four characteristics of a great one:

  1. The villain should be a root problem. For instance, frustration isn’t a villain – the high taxes that make us frustrated, are.
  2. The villain should be relatable – your customers should immediately recognize it as something they hate.
  3. The villain should be singular – too many villains and a story falls apart.
  4. The villain should be real – don’t invent a villain that doesn’t exist.