Why Use StoryBrand?

Most businesses struggle to talk about what they do. Our communication framework helps people clarify their message so their business starts growing again.

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand Framework, a framework/technique for creating and clarifying your messaging.

Helps you figure out your positioning and how to tell a better story.

When we position our customer as the hero and ourselves as their guide, we will be recognized as a sought-after character to help them along their journey.

If we can make our messages really clear about why our customers need our products, we can win.

People buy because they heard or read words that made them want to buy things. It’s the way we talk about our products that move our products. Not design.

“People do not buy the best products and services, Donald Miller said. They buy from people who tell the best story.”

Donald Miller

How Our Brains Work

1. Survive and Thrive

“If what you’re communicating about your product isn’t directly related to helping your customers survive and thrive, they aren’t going to pay attention.”

Donald Miller

They are looking for something to get ahead, save money, be stronger, be more productive, have a better quality of life, etc. People are always scanning the environment for data that will help me do that.

2. Conserve Calories

The second thing the brain is trying to do is converse calories. It takes a lot of calories to process information.

“When your brain has to process a lot of data that has nothing to do with your survival, it turns off.”

Donald Miller

When your brain has to process a lot of information that has nothing to do with your survival, it turns off. It says ‘I don’t need this information’. If you are talking about you and your story, the brain doesn’t waste calories understanding why this would ever be of importance. Your brain has to work in this way, to prevent you processing information that you don’t need.


  • Star Wars:  Luke Skywalker is the hero who wants something.  The empire kills the only family he knows.  He meets a guide (two of them, actually) who gives a plan (use the force) to destroy the death star.  He follows the plan and good things happen.
  • Money Ball: Billy Beane is the hero (who has authority in baseball and empathy from the audience carefully build through flashbacks).  He meets a guide who gives him a plan (use statistics and math to build a team).  He puts the plan in place and they win a lot of games in a row.

The 7-Point Framework (SB7 Framework)

A character has problem and meets a guide who gives him a plan and calls them to action that helps them avoid failure and ends in success.
  1. A Character usually the hero/ your customer
  2. With a problem/pain/ need
  3. Meets a Guide [the brand]
  4. Who gives the hero a plan [precise steps to achieve a goal]
  5. That calls them to action
  6. That results in Tragedy [failure]
  7. or Comedy [success]

#1 Character

Storybrand Principle One: The Customer is the Hero, not your brand.

This is the common mistake of most companies. They focus on their selves and not on the client. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Great movies and great stories start with a character that wants something.  Not a bunch of things, but one important thing.  That’s why your first step is to identify the character in your story.  If you’re a business, you’re not the character…your customer is.  Figuring out what they really want it a key.

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

Donald Miller

You need to identify and be clear about who you are attempting to help. Targeting everyone is like targeting no one. What kind of change do you want to affect? You need to strictly define who you are helping.

#2 The Character Has A Problem

Storybrand Principle Two: Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems.

The only reason people come to see you is they have a problem.  And if their problem isn’t really frustrating, they won’t let you resolve it. When people meet you, they file you away by the problem you’re solving. Now there are external problems (I want to lose weight), internal problems (I want to feel confident) and philosophical problems (people should pay attention to us).

There are 3 kinds of problems your customer encounters.

  1. External Problems — what they need.
  2. Internal Problem — why they need solution
  3. Philosophical Problems —what the world sees

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

#3 The Character Meets A Guide

Storybrand Principle Three: Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a guide.

You are not the hero in the story, you are the guide.  The Yoda.  The Gandalf.  It’s your job to empathize with your character and showing that you have the authority and the plan to help.  Characters want guides who know what they are talking about but also guides who understand where they are coming from.

Just like Harry Potter has Dumbledore, you will guide the hero in his journey.

Most businesses fail to distinguish themselves as guides. They make the mistake of posing as heroes and turn away the potential heroes they are trying to help. A helpful guide has been through the same problems the hero has faced. He offers advice and wisdom. All advice is hindsight. Guides share what they would have done differently, had they known better at the time.

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

Donald Miller

#4 The Guide Gives A Plan

Storybrand Principle Four: Customers trust a guide who has a plan.

There’s little value in “getting your story out there.”  The best brands show how following their plan will be good for the customer.  Your plan needs to be clear, which is why “we’re the same but we’re also different” works.  “If you confuse, you lose,” they said again and again during the workshop.

Make sure you make the hero know why you are suggested the path you are suggesting.

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

#5 The Guide Calls Them To Action

Storybrand Principle Five: Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action.

There’s a moment in most stories when the guide finally calls the character to take action.  Your business needs that too.  There should be one obvious button to press on your website.  It really is amazing how easy it is to mess this up.

Tell your customer what to do. Provide them the step by step guide to whatever call to action you want them to do.

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

#6 The Plan Results In Success

Storybrand Principle Six: Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending.

Ideally, your plan solves their internal, external and philosophical problem.  And your website should do a great job not just describing features and benefits, but results.

What’s the stake if they don’t do your call to action? Will their life remain the same or will it become worse?

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

#7 Or Not Following The Plan Results In Failure

Storybrand Principle Seven: Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.

What’s at stake if they don’t act or follow your plan? What negative result will they avoid? Figuring out what will happen to people if they don’t take action and follow your plan is also really important.  This is what you see in all the “Don’t text and drive” commercials. It’s easy to manipulate people here, but this is powerful.

You create, in customer’s mind, the transformation your product or service would bring in their lives.

Knowing what could happen if no action is taken is required to motivate the hero to act on the plan you’ve collaboratively set up.

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


  • The customer is the hero of our brand’s story, not us.
  • If you confuse, you’ll lose
  • People don’t buy because of your product but because of the transformation it would bring
  • content is not the king anymore, Clarity is.
  • People don’t buy the best products and services, they buy the ones that are communicated the best. That they can understand the fastest.
  • The clearest communicator will win
  • Communication should be about our customers. About our customer’s needs.
  • 1. Is your message about your customers’ survival?
  • 2. Is the message clear and simple? (have you avoided the curse of knowledge)

Your StoryBrand Script

The Curse of Knowledge

10 = everything you know about your product, you know it inside out. If you project this onto your customers, you think they know a lot more than they do. You simplify down from level 10 to level 6. BUT, people make buying decisions between levels 1 and 2. The gap between levels 2 and 6 is called the curse of knowledge.

The Bowling Ball Analogy

Think about handing someone an 8lb bowling bowl, then want to communicate something else, hand another 8lb bowling bowl, then a third ball but use inside language/a term I’m not familiar with, like taking the 3rd ball and wrapping in vaseline. Can’t get a grip on the 3rd as so slippery. When you hand the 4th, you drop all of them.