Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller – Here are my Five Lessons and Takeaways

“What was that book 
I heard people 
talking about?”
You want to be better informed; more up-to-date; you want to keep current!
You want to know what is in the best business books.
You want to know the latest trends; the latest findings; you want to know what works: what works now; what is likely to work tomorrow.
Randy Mayeux can be your guide to such learning.


Read the above paragraph carefully. It was my first attempt to describe what I do from the StoryBrand perspective.

Nobody really cares much about what you do; about your company; your history. They primarily care about themselves ; their struggles, their challenges; their pursuits.  And if you can help them along their path to success, then they care about you; about what you can do to help them.

Building a StoryBrandThis is the essence of the book Building a StoryBrand. And this past Friday, at the June First Friday Book Synopsis, I presented my synopsis of Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller.

People who have read this book swear by it; they love it!  It simply makes sense.  And I found it to be a very good book.

In my synopses, I ask What is the point? Here it is for this book:  People don’t care about your story.  They care about their own story. Help them (your customers) write a much more successful story. 

And I ask Why is this book worth our time?  Her are my three responses 

#1 – We are too frazzled, muddled, unclear.  This book will help you become clear about what you actually have to offer.
#2 – Our message is unclear, muddled… This book will help you refine your message, boiling it down to its true essence.
#3 – Our focus is on what we have to offer, not on what others (our customers) need; i.e., their problems. This book will help us put the focus of our work where it belongs; on their journeys to success.

Here are a few of the Quotes and Excerpts from the book I included in my synopsis handout: – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted passages:

This is not a book about telling your company’s story. A book like that would be a waste of time. Customers don’t generally care about your story; they care about their own. Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand. This is the secret every phenomenally successful business understands.
Marketing has changed. Businesses that invite their customers into a heroic story grow. Businesses that don’t are forgotten.
This means that if we position our products and services as anything but an aid in helping people survive, thrive, be accepted, find love, achieve an aspirational identity, or bond with a tribe that will defend them physically and socially, good luck selling anything to anybody. These are the only things people care about.
What we think we are saying to our customers and what our customers actually hear are two different things. …And customers make buying decisions not based on what we say but on what they hear.
A major paradigm shift in the SB7 Framework is that the customer is the hero of the story, not your brand.
As a brand it’s important to define something your customer wants, because as soon as we define something our customer wants, we posit a story question in the mind of the customer: Can this brand really help me get what I want?
Around the office we use the phrase “write it in Morse code” when we need marketing copy. By “Morse code” we mean copy that is brief, punchy, and relevant to our customers.
“You sell cupcakes. Cupcakes good. Me want eat cupcake. Me like pink one and must go to bakery now.” Most of us err too far in the opposite direction. We use too much text.
The rule is this: the fewer words you use, the more likely it is that people will read them. …There shouldn’t be a single word, image, or idea shared on your website that doesn’t come from the thoughts generated by your StoryBrand BrandScript.
I found myself going back to some foundational communication basics in my own thinking, as I read this book.  For example, Aristotle’s logos, ethos, and pathos.  Classical rehtoric’s emphasis on mythos.  And the great book by Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Here is how the book summarizes the key approach:

Here is nearly every story you see or hear in a nutshell:
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,
That action helps them avoid FAILURE and
ends in a SUCCESS.
That’s really it.

Here is StoryBrand in Seven Principles:

#1 — Storybrand Principle One: The Customer Is The Hero, Not Your Brand.
#2 — Storybrand Principle Two: Companies Tend To Sell Solutions To External Problems, But Customers Buy Solutions To Internal Problems.
#3 — Storybrand Principle Three: Customers Aren’t Looking For Another Hero; They’re Looking For A Guide.
#4 — Storybrand Principle Four: Customers Trust A Guide Who Has A Plan.
#5 — Storybrand Principle Five: Customers Do Not Take Action Unless They Are Challenged To Take Action.
#6 — Storybrand Principle Six: Every Human Being Is Trying To Avoid A Tragic Ending.
#7 — Storybrand Principle Seven: Never Assume People Understand How Your Brand Can Change Their Lives. Tell Them.

And here are my five lessons and takeaways:

#1 – Focus on what is stopping your customer(s) on their journey to success. (DO NOT focus on your company).
#2 – Construct a believable story for your customer—a journey toward success.
#3 – Position you and your company as the capable and trusted guide to help your customer make that journey.
#4 – Make your story simple – utterly easy to access; to believe.
#5 – Be clear about your call to action. Put your call to action EVERYWHERE! –Make it very visible!

Remember this first; you’ve got to have a product or service that is worth something; genuinely of value.  But, after that, marketing that product or service has to be done very, very well.  And your marketing should not be focused on what you have accomplished; or really, anything about you at all.  Your marketing should be focused on how you can be a help, a guide, a useful companion to your customer in their journey toward success.

If you are in the marketing business (and, you are!), read this book.  You will find it useful!


Here is my “second” attempt at writing about what I offer from the StoryBrand perspective:

“I love good books; and I read books
And share their core concepts
Primarily with people near Dallas
To help people become more literate
And know what to work on
To do a better job
To build a better company
And, ultimately, to build a better life.”

Randy Mayeux


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