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StoryBrand Guide vs. StoryBrand Certified Agency: Which Do You Need?

StoryBrand Guide vs. StoryBrand Certified Agency: Which Do You Need?

The StoryBrand Framework teaches businesses that they are not heroes, but guides in their customers’ stories. Your role is to give your customers a plan for overcoming their challenges, avoiding failure, and achieving their definition of success.

But just because you are a guide to your customers, it doesn’t mean you won’t need some guidance of your own from time to time. After all, you are the hero in your own story, even if your hero’s quest is to help your customers. And every hero needs their Obi-Wan.

Why Consider Getting Help With StoryBrand

The StoryBrand Framework is built on centuries of storytelling tradition. So, in some ways, it is easy to wrap your mind around.

(For the sake of this article, I’ll assume you’re familiar with Donald Miller’s book “Building a StoryBrand” or you got caught up with our explainer piece, “What Is a StoryBrand BrandScript?”)

But understanding StoryBrand and implementing it are two different things. For example, if you’ve logged into mystorybrand.com and started creating your first BrandScript, you may have quickly realized the answers to the questions there are not always obvious.

Oftentimes, we’re so far inside our businesses, so caught up in the features of our products or services, we have a difficult time seeing things from the perspective of our customers. This is where an expert guide can be immensely helpful.

If you’re convinced the StoryBrand approach can help your company clarify its messaging, reach more customers, and grow, but find yourself in any of the following situations, it may be time to find a guide of your own:

  • You’re struggling to get through your first BrandScript.
  • You completed a BrandScript, but it didn’t turn out the way you expected.
  • You’d like a “second opinion” to ensure you completed your BrandScript correctly and arrived at the optimal messaging for your customers.
  • You’re not sure how to go about integrating your newly-clarified messaging across your sales and marketing assets.
  • You love the StoryBrand concept, but you just don’t have the time, resources, or people to dedicate to creating a BrandScript (or several) and integrating it into your company website, email messaging, sales presentations, and so on.

In the StoryBrand universe, guidance comes in two forms: StoryBrand Guides and StoryBrand Certified Agencies. What’s the difference and which is best suited to help your business achieve success on your own terms?

What Is a StoryBrand Guide?

A StoryBrand Guide is an individual who has gone through extensive training and has received StoryBrand’s seal of approval as a master of the framework.

StoryBrand Guides typically help their clients with such things as developing BrandScripts, wireframing websites, and writing BrandScript-informed copy (although, they may not have the bandwidth to take on all these tasks).

StoryBrand Guides may also serve as coaches or consultants, encouraging and advising their clients throughout the StoryBrand process. Their clients take on the work of designing sites, building landing pages, writing content, crafting emails, and everything else.

Who Becomes a StoryBrand Guide?

StoryBrand Guides are often solopreneurs, freelancers, or moonlighters. Occasionally, they work for larger marketing agencies but are the only individuals within their agency to hold StoryBrand certification.

Why Work With a StoryBrand Guide?

A StoryBrand Guide might be a good fit for your business if you:

  • Are a very small operation, with just a handful of employees (or only you) and a do-it-yourself attitude. You just need someone to point you in the right direction.
  • Your company has in-house marketing, sales, design, and copywriting teams. All you lack is a StoryBrand expert.
  • You’re already working with a full-service marketing agency you love — but they don’t know about StoryBrand.

A good StoryBrand Guide will get to know your business inside and out (the better to help you perfect your messaging), and will develop close one-on-one working relationships with you and your team. But a StoryBrand Guide is just one person; they can’t do it all.

Plus, if you’ve worked with individual contractors before, such as freelance writers or designers, you know there’s a vast quality gap out there. You can never be sure what you’re going to get until you start working together.

Scanning through portfolios, calling references, and holding trial runs all in search of the perfect candidate can be aggravating and time-consuming.

What Is a StoryBrand Certified Agency?

Like StoryBrand Guides, StoryBrand Certified Agencies have undergone substantial training to become advanced practitioners of the StoryBrand Framework. The difference is, at an agency, the entire team is trained and receives StoryBrand Certification — not just a single person.

A StoryBrand Certified Agency can offer the same services as an individual guide, plus the resources and capabilities of a full-service marketing agency. That means you won’t just have a coach on your side, but a team of qualified professionals prepared to create, launch, integrate, and lead your StoryBrand-related efforts from top to bottom.

A StoryBrand Certified Agency can help your business (among other things):

  • Refine your BrandScript or create it from scratch. This may involve gathering testimonials from your customers to understand how your brand transformed their lives.
  • Redesign your website based on your BrandScript.
  • Create content, web copy, and lead-generating assets that align with your new brand messaging.
  • Build email nurturing campaigns that guide your customers through their hero’s journey.
  • Train and enable your sales and marketing teams on the StoryBrand Framework.
  • Show you how the StoryBrand Framework complements your other marketing approaches, such as HubSpot’s inbound methodology.

In short, a StoryBrand Certified Agency is a team of individuals who specialize in all things marketing, with special consideration for StoryBrand (and the principles of storytelling) throughout their work.

Who Becomes a StoryBrand Certified Agency?

StoryBrand has only granted certification to a handful of full-service marketing agencies.

If you’re interested in working with a StoryBrand Certified Agency, make sure you look for ones that have received the full agency certification. As I noted earlier, some marketing agencies may contain a few StoryBrand Certified Guides, but not entire teams of them.

Why Work With a StoryBrand Certified Agency?

A StoryBrand Certified Agency might serve your company’s needs if:

  • You’re totally sold on StoryBrand, but you’d rather have a team that knows what they’re doing handle the whole thing for you.
  • You’ve gotten started with StoryBrand (or you’re thinking about it), but you don’t have the internal resources for design, web development, branding, and writing necessary to implement a BrandScript fully.
  • You don’t want the hassle and expense of searching for, hiring, and managing writers, designers, and other creative professionals. You prefer the pre-vetted, low-maintenance resources of an agency.
  • Your requirements go well beyond StoryBrand. You need a partner who can essentially function as your company’s marketing department.

If you want to get started right away with a StoryBrand-based project (and anything else marketing-related), a certified agency might be the way to go. An agency will have the infrastructure, experience, and processes in place to take your BrandScript and run with it.

StoryBrand Certified Agency or Guide: Which Is Right For You?

Cost is, obviously, a factor. StoryBrand Guides will be more affordable (since you’re just hiring one person), but StoryBrand Certified Agencies may offer more bang for your budget. Agencies allow you to consolidate your marketing needs within a single vendor, which may reduce your costs. (If nothing else, it will save you time.)

In the end, you know your business the best. I hope you see yourself somewhere in the information I shared here, and I hope I’ve been a helpful guide as you choose between a StoryBrand Guide and a StoryBrand Certified Agency.

Love storytelling? Download our free guide on how brands can use storytelling in their marketing to connect with prospects and customers.