Building a Story Brand

Unlocking Success with Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

Cliff Notes and Book Review by David Esau

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller breaks it down step-by-step on how to market your brand online and why simple words matter for your business. Donald explains in great detail with actionable insights and HOW TO’s after explaining the WHY. This is a must-read for anybody working at a company that is looking to gain more customers by just simply clarifying your message and becoming the guide to all your heroes (customers). Download or buy the physical book immediately and get started today. Waiting could cost you thousands of future dollars. I took notes on the entire read and can’t wait to rework my story and the one for my business, too. Amazing business book and so happy I decided to give it a read.


Your website should answer these questions immediately.

  1. What do you offer?
  2. How will it make my life better?
  3. What do I need to buy it?

SB7 Framework


The customer is the hero, not your brand. You and your service are simply the guides. Customers do not care about your business until you can solve a specific problem.


The customer is in trouble and we need to help. Identify the customer’s problems.

  1. External – a physical tangible problem someone must overcome. (ie; bomb, a bus that can’t stop moving, etc) hunger is an example of a restaurant. Manifest an internal problem.
  2. Internal – people buy solutions to internal problems. CarMax solves the problem of having to speak to a salesman by providing the price on the car that everyone pays.
  3. Philosophical – about the question of why and bigger than the external and internal problems. “People ought to be treated fairly.” Good vs. Evil. What’s the deeper sense of meaning? Is there a deeper story the brand contributes to?

4 questions to ask your brand.

Is there a single villain your brand stands against?

What external problem is that villain causing?

How is that external problem making your customers feel?

Why is it unjust for people to have to suffer at the hands of this villain?


Customers aren’t looking for another hero, they are looking for a guide.


Customers trust a guide that has a plan. A clear path laid out on how to do business with us is the key to success.

An agreement plan and process plan are required for business transactions to occur. 

Clear Calls to Action

Customers don’t take action unless challenged by an outside force.

Action is direct, or transitional action.

Helps Avoid Failure

Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending. Something must be at stake. We must show people the cost of not doing something with us in order to drive action.

Ends in a Success

Never assume people understand how a brand can change their lives. You must tell (show) them in multiple ways.

Offering a vision for how great your customer’s life will be if they engage in your products and services will help move the needle.

Check out Donald’s website about the book:

How to talk about your customer’s problems.

Every story needs a villain. Capture frustrations and personify conflicts.

  1. The villain should be a root source.
  2. The villain should be relatable.
  3. The villain should be singular.
  4. The villain should be real.

What does your product defeat?


The guide must provide empathy and authority as these will create a bond of trust. Tell your customers that you care and that you know what you are talking about.

What your website should show to produce results:

  1. Testimonials – no more than 3, keep it brief
  2. Statistics – provide facts in numbers
  3. Awards – bottom of the page
  4. Logos – provide other businesses logos
  5. Competence is shown on your site


The bridge the hero must cross to get to the other side is the path of hope. Clarify how to do business with us or remove the risk someone might have if someone is considering doing business with us.

Process plan – steps to buy or use our product or a mix of both. Take the confusion out of the customer journey.

Post-Purchase process plan – phases or steps to use the product. Alleviate any customer confusion. Keep it to 4 steps or less if possible.

Agreement plan – a list of agreements that help you overcome any fears or concerns about how you do business. Title it: Easy installation plan


Customers do not take action unless challenged to do so. Heroes need to be challenged by outside forces. Be bold and be noticed. It’s the power of clarity.

Buy Now button at the top right corner of your website, middle of the main image, and several other places. Clearly invite customers to take a journey with us or customers will sense weakness and not buy.

Transitional calls to action contain less risk and offer something for free to further the relationship. Provide free PDF, educational videos, podcasts, live events, free samples, demo, etc.


Include reasons and bullet points about how your company can help people avoid a loss or failure.

What is the cost of not working with you?

A fear appeal. A reader or listener must know they are vulnerable and should take action and what the product or services do. Then challenge the customer to take action today.


Where is your brand taking people? A realtor may be a Dream home. Define a compelling image of what the future will look like when a new customer works with you. The ending should be specific and clear.

  1. Winsome power or position – the need for status, diamond member, loyalty program, gets the girl, and so on.
    1. CBD example – reduce anxiety, remain cool.
  2. Unified with someone or something that makes you feel whole
  3. Experience some kind of self-realization

Close the story loop now.

What problem are you resolving and what does that look like?

Everybody wants to change for the better. How does your brand participate in the identity transformation of your future and present customers? Who does your customer want to become? Who do you want your customers to become?

Brainstorm the aspirational identity of your potential customer.

Start with your website and make sure it is clear and effective. It’s the equivalent of an elevator pitch without too much noise.

5 things to include (the basics) in your website

  1. An offer above the fold. Short, enticing, and exclusively customer-centric. Promise an aspirational experience. Solve the problem. State exactly what you do. Make sure a 3rd grader can understand what you do. “We will make you a pro in the kitchen.” – cooking membership
  2. Obvious calls to action, do not hide the buy button. Make it a different color and make all buttons the same.
  3. Images of success
  4. A bite-sized breakdown of your revenue streams.
  5. Very few words – less is more. People scan websites and too much text will lose visitors. Use a “read more,” link to keep each paragraph it short but give them an opportunity to read more if they want.

What is the process of creating a new story brand and culture?

  1. Create a brand script with your leadership team
  2. Audit the existing thought sphere
  3. Create a custom story brand culture implementation plan
  4. Optimize internal communication to support the plan
  5. Install a self-sustaining team to enhance the culture

Leaders should be the guide, customers are the heroes. Is your organization on a mission and do your employees understand the importance of their role?

No story, no engagement!

5 almost free things to do to build your story brand business roadmap

Create a powerful statement or one-liner.

A brief answer to what do you do? A simple logline.

  1. Character
  2. Problem
  3. Plan
  4. Success

Create a lead generator and email capture form.

  1. Stay away from a newsletter or stay in the known form. Offer something valuable in return, a transitional call to action. A lead generator that provides someone something in return for email.
  2. Downloadable guide, online course or webinar, software demos or free trial, free samples, live events. Title the lead generator with a clear concise, phrase and give as much value as possible.

Create an automated email drip campaign.

  1. Remind customers your company exists and has products and services that will make their life better. Build an email funnel that invites customers to a narrative. Start with a nurturing campaign that provides value.
  2. MailChimp, InfusionSoft – open a word document and start writing initial emails.

Collect and tell stories of transformation.

  1. Testimonials – showcase values, results, and the experience people have working with you.
  2. Questions – what was the problem you were having before you discovered our product? What did the frustration feel like as you tried to solve the problem? What was different about our product? Take us to the moment when you realized our product was actually working to solve your problem? Tell us what life looks like now that your problem is solved or being solved?

Create a system that generates referrals. Invite and incentivize people to spread the word.

  1. Identify your existing ideal customers.
  2. Give your customers a reason to spread the word. Consider a short video that explains how your company can solve a problem.
  3. Offer a reward.
  4. Start an affiliate program.
  5. Automate the work with MailChimp.
  6. Free follow-up photos – example of a wedding photographer who offered anniversary photos that referred 3 people.


Miller, Donald. Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.

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