Book Review – Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller


The emergence of generative AI has had me thinking about the proliferation of AI-generated content in the form of blog posts, social media, and website content in general. It got me recalling the book Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller, in which a content framework is put forward that puts the customer at the centre and the company as the guide in the form of a storyline. I tested using this framework as a ChatGPT prompt and found the output superior. This book is one that I have advocated and recommended for quite a while, and I was surprised I hadn’t written a book review on it before.

As a small business owner, you know that one of the biggest challenges is reaching your target audience in a way that will grab their attention and keep them engaged. How do you let your customers know about your product or service and keep them interested enough to come back for more? Essentially Building a Story Brand an essential guide to help you achieve just that.

The Framework

Miller suggests that every successful story has the same elements. If you align your company’s product and service and your customer along these elements, you will be able to speak directly to your market. Basically, the framework is as follows: a character encounters a problem and meets a guide who presents them with a plan and a call to action that helps them avoid failure and gain success and become a hero. Think Luke Skywalker or The Karate Kid.

Key Takeaways

The customer is the hero: The biggest takeaway from the framework is that the customer is the hero. As business owners, we often fall into the trap of thinking we are the hero in our branding. Miller emphasises the need to place the customer in the hero’s role and for the business to take on the guide’s position, helping the hero navigate their challenges.

Clarity is key: The effect of the framework is to provide clarity in our messaging. If the content is ambiguous or attempts to be too clever, the message will become lost or misunderstood. A straightforward message is more likely to resonate and be remembered.

Simple and Universal: The elements of a story are universal. Therefore by simplifying your message and focusing on basic human desires, you can make your brand relatable to a wider audience.

Call-to-Action: Every story has a climax, and in the business world, that’s the call to action. Miller offers guidance on crafting compelling CTAs that inspire and motivate customers to engage.

How can we apply this in our business communications?

Summarising the framework:

  1. Your customers are the lead character.
  2. Their problem acts as the villain, representing a product or service need.
  3. They encounter a guide, which is your business.
  4. This guide presents them with a plan, showcasing your product or service, and provides the reasons and means to access it.
  5. The guide then calls them to action, prompting them to buy or inquire.=
  6. Along the way, they’re helped to avoid pitfalls, such as missing out or continuing with their initial problem.
  7. Ultimately, the customer completes their transformation journey, emerging as a hero. This transformation is marked by both psychological and physical benefits derived from your product or service.

The framework can be applied to everything, from website content to social media campaigns.

For example:
– Website Optimisation: Use the Story Brand framework to revamp your website, ensuring your messaging is customer-focussed and clear.
– Content Creation: When crafting content, keep the customer as the hero of your story. Offer solutions and guidance rather than mere product descriptions.
– Sales Pitches: Rework your sales pitches to showcase how your product or service can guide potential customers to success.

For me, the book was instantly applicable. There are also online tools to help construct content using the framework. It challenges traditional branding norms and pushes us to think more about our customers’ journeys. For anyone struggling with creating compelling content, this book gives you the roadmap to break through.

Engage With Us:

Were you intrigued by the insights from Building a Story Brand? If you’re seeking to integrate the Story Brand framework into your marketing strategy or if you need guidance on clarifying your brand’s message, HyperWeb is here to help. Contact us today to see how we can help transform your brand’s story and make your messaging resonate with your audience.

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