The StoryBrand Framework has revolutionized how businesses talk to their customers. By creating a clear and compelling story, brands can engage audiences like never before.
This guide will explore the 7-part StoryBrand messaging framework, providing practical examples and insights to help you become a master of this transformative approach.
Why do we Need a Messaging Framework?
Most businesses waste enormous amounts of money on marketing.
Because marketing today tends to ignore most people, causing most customers to ignore marketing in return.
So what's the solution?
The key is to craft a compelling messaging strategy that resonates with the core challenges and aspirations of your ideal customers.
By truly understanding your audience's needs and desires, and reflecting them in every touch point of your brand.
This approach ensures that when potential customers visit your website, receive an email marketing campaign, or see one of your ads, they don't just grasp what you do. They deeply understand the unique value proposition that sets your brand apart from competitors.
And the ultimate goal of this effective marketing strategy?
To position your services not merely as an option but as the clear, standout choice for customers' needs, effectively winning both their hearts and minds.
Before StoryBrand, businesses longing to harness the power of storytelling were left to their own devices, with no set frameworks or methodologies to lean on. It seemed that captivating, epic stories were reserved only for certain businesses. But StoryBrand changed the game, enabling businesses at any stage, from sprouting startups to multi-billion-dollar enterprises, to unlock the rich benefits of structured storytelling.
As business leaders, we've all felt the frustration of seeing most customers overlook our marketing efforts. Here at Creativeo, we've come to a revelation: most customers ignore marketing simply because most marketing ignores the people it's trying to reach.
With the StoryBrand Framework, we bridge that gap, connecting brands with real people through compelling, human-centered narratives.
What is the StoryBrand Framework?
Picture your customer at the center of a journey, facing challenges and seeking solutions. Now, envision your business as the guide that leads them to success. That's the essence of the StoryBrand Framework.
In practical terms, StoryBrand is about positioning your customer as the focal point and your brand as their trusted ally. It's a strategic approach that fosters connection and engagement, all structured around seven fundamental parts. This method not only humanizes your marketing but also aligns your messaging with what truly matters to your audience.
The Brainchild of Donald Miller
Donald Miller, the mind behind this messaging framework, is not just a marketing genius; he's a storytelling expert. An author turned marketing maestro, Miller realized that the elements that make a great story also make a fantastic marketing strategy. And thus, StoryBrand was born. It's like crafting a compelling narrative for a bestselling novel, but for your business!
The 7 Part Framework. The StoryBrand Brandscript.
To help you refine your Brandscript, let’s recap the 7-principles of the Storybrand framework:
- A Character: Define the customer's desire.
- Has a Problem: Identify and address the problems.
- And Meets a Guide: Present your brand as a guide.
- Who Gives Them a Plan: Outline the plan or process.
- And Calls Them to Action: Create a compelling call to action.
- That Helps Them Avoid Failure: Outline the risks of not acting.
- And Ends in Success: Describe the successful resolution.
See? It's like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, and when it's complete, you've got a blueprint for connecting with your customers in a way that's real, human, and downright effective.
Principle 1: Who does your customer want to become?
In storytelling, the story begins when the character (your customer) wants something. But more important than just wanting something, they aspire to become someone.
It is your job to know clearly what your customer wants. When you can clearly identify what your customer wants, you invite them into a story that has a clear direction. More customers will find themselves in the narrative you're inviting them into, and more of them will engage with your brand.
In part 1 of the framework, you need to articulate what you offer in a way that is clear to your customer. As Donald Miller says, "don't make your customer burn calories to understand what is it that you do."
Why this is critical:
Most businesses make the mistake of telling their own story, why they exist, what makes them great or why they started the company. This violates the first and vital Storybrand principle that your customers are the hero, not your brand!
How do you uncover what your customer wants?
- Ask your clients straight-up what do they want
- Be aware that when asked, people tend to list too many things that they want
- Look at review sites from your key competitors. You want to capture your customer's voice and public reviews are a great way to uncover the desires and problems of your ideal clients.
- Conduct customer interviews/surveys
When you can clearly describe what you offer, more of your ideal customers will engage with your brand.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Brands tend to choose too many things. The customer can only want one thing. Pare down your customers wants down to one thing that is extremely clear and simple.
- Avoid using inside language. This part should be so simple that a third-grader could understand it.
- Avoid having your customers burn too many calories. If they have to ask the question "what does that mean?" it is too complicated.
Examples of what your customer might want
- My business needs more quality leads
- I want a new website that is beautiful but powerful in converting visitors
- I want to successfully home school my children (homeschooling platform)
- Reliable internet for their home office
But, what if your business has multiple heroes (customers) who want different things? See if there's an umbrella idea that can incorporate all the things customers want. For example:
- Creativeo (our own business) — sometimes our customers wants a website or help with their StoryBrand messaging, but the umbrella under which all of our services falls under is an ROI with their marketing spend.
- Nike — sells different atheltic shoes. They have different customers who want different types of shoes (basketball, tennis, soccer, casual, etc.) but the umbrella under which all of those falls is athletic shoes.
Principle 2: What are your customer's external, internal, and philosophical problems?
Your customer has a problem that is getting in the way of what they want.
Any good story gets interesting when a conflict is clearly defined. Your brand must always be clear about what the customer’s problem is and it must talk about your customer's problem.
And never forget the simple truth that your customer is only looking for your product/service because you help them solve a problem. If you stop talking about your customer's problem, they stop paying attention to you.
A breakdown of the StoryBrand Problem Section
There are three levels of problem that your customers are facing.
- External — this is the physical, tangible thing that's getting in your customer's way. What obstacle do they have to overcome in order to get the thing they want?
- Internal — The external problem is causing an internal problem the customer feels and wants to resolve even more than the external problem. The internal problem is all about the frustration your customer is experiencing. This is usually a feeling like: frustrated, embarrassed, confused, alone.
- Philosophical — This is the epic injustice your customers are facing as a result of dealing with the external problem. When trying to understand the philosophical problem your customer face, ask youself why it is "just plain wrong" for your customers to have to deal with this kind of challenge.
How to uncover the three level of problems your customers are experiencing?
Here are some questions to ask:
- What problem is our customer facing that we can solve?
- How does the problem make them feel?
- How would we tell our customers that the problems they are facing are just plain wrong?
Common Mistakes with this Principle
- Avoid identifying too many problems
- A failure to connect the three level of problems. Make sure the internal and philosophical problems are related to the external problem.
Problem Section Examples
From a winery client.
Second example from a consultancy group that works with fortune 1,000 companies on an innovation framework.
Principle 3: Be the Guide, Not the Hero
In part 3, you position your brand as the Guide in your customer's story.
The big "Aha!" moment of the StoryBrand Framework is like flipping the script of a classic tale: you're not the dashing hero; your customer is!
So why does this come first in our storytelling journey? Because it's where your brand gets a cameo, not as the star, but as the wise Guide. Your role isn't to steal the limelight but to shine it on what your customer craves and the pesky obstacles they're grappling with. You matter, not because you've framed a story about how awesome you are, but because you're focusing on what your customer wants and the hurdles that are tripping them up.
The key to positioning yourself as the Guide is to express empathy and authority.
Questions to ask to uncover the empathy and authority statements
- What's your common ground with your customer? Have you ever walked in their shoes, feeling the same pinches and pressures they're going through?
- How have your experiences mirrored theirs, especially in the challenges you've both faced?
- Have you been the guide for others, helping them overcome the very problems your customers are grappling with right now?
- Got any raving testimonials? Share the stories of success where you've played the hero's guide, helping others triumph over those tricky obstacles. Think not just customer reviews but success stories.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
But hey, a word to the wise: people often slip up in this section by:
- Brandishing an authority that's a mismatch for their customer's problem. Make sure you've got the creds that count for your customer's journey.
- Overdoing the empathy bit. A heartfelt connection is awesome, but don't pen a novel. Keep it real, relatable, and just the right length.
Empathy & Authority Examples
Empathy Example #3
Principle 4: Give your clients an easy step-by-step to move forward
To be the guide, you need to lead well - a greater leader is one who paves the road ahead for others to follow.
Why do you think people need agendas, itineraries, and maps?
Because people want to anticipate the next step. Same thing on your website.
That’s why the fourth StoryBrand marketing principle is to give your customers a step-by-step plan to move them forward. If you don’t, there’s a higher chance of them failing to take the next action.
By simply listing three to four steps, you increase the probability of your customer making the leap to do business with you.
Crafting a step-by-step plan is like giving your customer a treasure map to success. It clears away the fog of doubt, anxiety, or confusion that might linger around the 'What's next?' question. With a plan in hand, doing business with you becomes a walk in the park – simple, straightforward, and inviting. It's not about challenging them with a maze; it's about leading them down a clear path where every step feels as easy as a Sunday stroll.
Questions to ask to help you craft the right Plan section of your brandscript
- Can you simplify your process into a nifty three-step dance? What's the essential groove?
- What prep work does your customer need before joining hands with you? Any warm-up exercises?
- How does your tango differ from your competitor's waltz? What makes your rhythm unique?
- Can you name each step of your dance with snappy titles that catch the eye in a flash?
But don't let your enthusiasm run wild! Common missteps here include:
- Jiving with inside language. Keep your steps breezy and transparent. Imagine you're teaching a beginner's class – your language should be as clear and inviting as an open dance floor.
- Don't over-complicate the plan
- Avoid focusing too much on features.
- Don't include too many steps. Never let your plan be more than 3-4 steps.
When it comes to guiding your client, there are two main paths to consider:
- Pre-Purchase Plan: Think of this as the 'getting to know you' phase. It outlines the steps your customer will take to engage with your brand or utilize your product or service. For example: Schedule a friendly chat --> Diagnose the issue together --> Collaboratively create a plan
- Post-Purchase Plan: This is the 'after the handshake' stage, detailing the steps your customer will follow once they've invested in your product or service. For example: Access weight loss insights --> Enjoy personalized coaching --> Join a supportive community
As you sketch out these plans, aim for concise titles for each step. A few well-chosen words keep it clean and easily digestible, especially when presented on a website.
Lastly, don't let the process end in ambiguity. Ensure your client reaches a clear decision. A casual conversation is a great approach; professionalism doesn't mean complication. Remember, clarity is key, and a well-laid plan sets the stage for a confident journey with your brand.
Principle 5: What is your main call to action?
What do you want your customers to do? Shop Now, Place an Order, Download Now, or Schedule a Free Call!
That’s your clear call to action - the obvious invitation to do business with you.
In addition to your main call to action, your website needs a transitional call to action. This gives customers a low stake commitment to engage with your business when they’re not ready to buy just yet.
Based on an experiment by Unbounce on call to actions that convert, they uncovered that two questions can help you write effective CTA button copy:
- What is my prospect’s motivation for clicking this button?
- What is my prospect going to get when they click this button?
If you can answer those two questions clearly, you’ll have a strong CTA button.
Next, you want to think about your Transitional Call to Action. This is a second call to action for customers who are not ready to buy from you but are looking for more information.
- Lead-generating PDFs
- Free Samples
- Discount Codes
- Free e-Book
Your transitional call to action should entice someone to give their email address in exchange for the incentive.
In the StoryBrand framework, a transitional call to action (CTA) typically serves as a low-risk entry point for potential customers. It's not asking for a major commitment; instead, it's inviting them to take a smaller step that helps build trust.
Here are five examples:
- Download Our Free Guide: "Ready to dip your toes into the world of gourmet cooking? Download our free guide, '5 Easy Gourmet Recipes,' and start impressing your guests tonight!"
- Schedule a Free Consultation: "Curious about how our marketing services can boost your business? Let's chat! Schedule a free 15-minute consultation, and we'll explore the possibilities together."
- Watch Our Video Tutorial: "Want to see our software in action? Watch our quick video tutorial and discover how easy managing your finances can be. No strings attached, just press play!"
- Join a Free Webinar: "Interested in learning more about sustainable living? Join our free webinar this Saturday. It's a casual and engaging way to explore how small changes can make a big impact."
- Take Our Quick Quiz: "Not sure which of our skincare products is right for you? Take our quick, fun quiz to find your perfect match. Your skin will thank you!"
Each of these examples provides a gentle nudge to the customer, inviting them to engage further without feeling overwhelmed. They align with the StoryBrand philosophy by being customer-centric and focusing on guiding the customer along their journey.
Principle 6: Have you identified what is at stake?
In the official Storybrand framework - the success principle comes before the failure principle but in action on your website, the problem is agitated before the solution.
So as a certified Storybrand guide, I tend to start with principle #6 by identifying what is at stake.
If you’ve clearly identified your customer’s problem, it is your responsibility to amplify the consequences of not solving that problem.
Before you paint the picture of the promised land your customer seeks, you must clearly get them to visualize the consequences of not solving the problem.
What is the opportunity cost if things continue the same way? How many potential leads and clients will you lose to your competitors?
Principle 7: Have you helped your hero imagine what success looks like?
This is one of my favourite principles - what does success look like once you have helped the hero successfully solve their problem?
Your aim is to help your client imagine the success they can experience after engaging with your business.
Both imagining success and failure need to be highlighted on your website to effectively motivate your customer to action.
Next Step: Putting It All Together
Now you can turn your Brandscript into copy. We call this your Brandscript Script. Here's an example from our about page.
Here's another example from a recent project.
Is the StoryBrand Framework the Same as Customer Personas?
From Hubspot buyer persona template to the Business Model Canvas to the Customer Journey Map to Jobs to be Done (JBTD), there are endless frameworks to uncover your customer personas.
As good and helpful these personas are, I believe the Story Brand framework is in a league of its own to help you uncover what your customer wants and to craft compelling messaging that engages them emotionally.
Combining Both Approaches
While they have different focal points, the StoryBrand Framework and marketing customer personas can complement each other:
- Use Personas within StoryBrand: You can use detailed personas to inform the creation of your StoryBrand narrative, ensuring that the "hero" of your story resonates with your specific target audiences.
- Unite Branding and Targeting: The StoryBrand Framework can guide the overarching narrative and messaging, while customer personas help tailor how that message is presented to different segments of your audience.
Additional Resources to Learn about the StoryBrand Messaging Framework
- Hire a StoryBrand Guide like Creativeo to help you take the guesswork out from crafting your clear and compelling StoryBrand messaging strategy.
- Read Donal Miller's Building a StoryBrand book.
- Schedule a 15-minute discovery call with one our team
- Utilizing your Brandscript, work on your StoryBrand one-liner
How to Implement Your StoryBrand Brandscript?
- 01: Clarify your marketing message strategy using the StoryBrand 7-part framework
- 02: Craft your one-liner
- 03: Write out your Brandscript script using your 7 part framework
1. Understand Your BrandScript Thoroughly
- Familiarize yourself with the seven parts of the StoryBrand Framework.
- Define the character (customer), the problem, the guide (your brand), the plan, the call to action, and the success and failure outcomes.
2. Align Your Entire Team
- Ensure that everyone in your organization, from marketing to sales to customer service, understands the BrandScript.
- Encourage consistent use of the language and themes across all departments.
3. Create Customer Personas
- Identify your target customers' needs, desires, and pain points.
- Use these personas to shape the "character" in your BrandScript.
4. Revamp Your Website and Marketing Materials
- Update your website’s messaging to reflect the StoryBrand BrandScript. Start by creating a wireframe following the StoryBrand Website Blueprint.
- Ensure that the language, visuals, and user experience all align with the script.
For inspiration, check out our StoryBrand Website Examples.
5. Develop Content That Resonates
- Create blogs, videos, social media posts, and other content that speaks directly to the customer's journey as defined in the BrandScript.
- Include clear calls to action that guide customers to the next step.
6. Integrate the BrandScript into Sales Processes
- Train your sales team to communicate using the framework.
- Develop sales scripts and materials that reflect the BrandScript.
- Ensure your proposals agitate the problem your customers are experiencing.
7. Monitor and Adjust
- Regularly review how your BrandScript is resonating with customers.
- Adjust as needed based on customer feedback, analytics, and other insights.
8. Utilize Transitional Calls to Action
- Include lower-commitment CTAs (like free guides or webinars) that align with the BrandScript to gently guide customers along the journey.
9. Consider Professional Guidance
- If needed, find a Certified StoryBrand Guide to help with implementation, ensuring that your BrandScript is fully optimized.
Implementing your StoryBrand BrandScript is more than just a one-time exercise. It's a continuous effort to ensure that your brand's messaging is clear, consistent, and focused on guiding your customers toward success. By following these steps, you'll create a powerful narrative that not only resonates with your target audience but also sets your brand apart in a crowded marketplace.