Your products are amazing. Your services are the best in the business. Your expertise and experience are unparalleled. So why isn’t your brand getting noticed — or, at least, not as much as you know it deserves?
One of the most frustrating challenges of growing a business is having a product or service that can change lives, yet struggling to get the people whose lives need changing to pay attention.
The problem, says Donald Miller, the best-selling author of “Building a StoryBrand,” isn’t what you’re selling. It’s what you’re saying. More specifically, it’s what you’re not saying.
“People are not drawn to the best products and services,” Miller says. “They’re drawn to the ones they can understand the fastest.”
The human mind, Miller points out, is attracted to clarity. A great product + a crystal-clear message = a winning combination.
“Makes sense,” you might be thinking. “But our product has so many terrific features that we can’t sum them up in just a few clear sentences.” Or, “Our service is so complex, we really need to walk prospects through the whole thing before they can grasp its value.”
Luckily, we humans are pretty smart, and thousands of years ago, we came up with a shortcut to sharing and retaining complicated information: storytelling.
What Does Storytelling Have to Do With Your Brand?
Marketing agencies (like us!) talk a lot about branding and rebranding, but we recognize those terms can be a little vague. In truth, your brand is simply the story your company tells the world.
People are wired to think in terms of stories, but very few of us give much thought to what makes a story work. Donald Miller has, and, he says, when you understand how stories work, you can learn to use storytelling techniques to create website and email copy, presentations, and elevator pitches that cut through the clutter and latch onto your prospects’ innermost motivations.
“Story is the most powerful tool in the world to captivate the human brain. When you learn to use story in your brand’s communication, your customers will finally pay attention to what you’re saying.”
— Donald Miller, author of “Building a StoryBrand”
The 7 Elements of Effective Storytelling (and Therefore, Branding)
In his book (which we highly recommend) and his workshops (if you really want to get into it), Donald Miller describes the StoryBrand Framework. The StoryBrand Framework — as Miller happily admits — is really just a repackaging of storytelling conventions that reach back millennia. He outlines seven storytelling elements you can find in everything from the Odyssey to the latest Hollywood blockbuster. (In fact, Miller likes to point out that the StoryBrand Framework may ruin moviegoing for you.)
- Every story starts with a character who wants something.
- A problem gets in the way of the character getting what they want.
- The character encounters a guide who can help them overcome their problem and get what they want.
- The guide gives the character a plan and...
- Calls them to action.
- By taking that action, the character avoids failure and…
- Achieves success (namely, by getting what they wanted).
We like to illustrate the StoryBrand Framework using the original Star Wars trilogy (Because who hasn’t seen Star Wars?).
Luke, the hero character, wants to defeat the Empire, but — here’s the problem — the Empire has superior numbers and firepower. Luke meets Obi-Wan and Yoda (both guides), who teach him about the force and how to use it.
Now, Luke has a plan. He takes action by confronting and defeating Darth Vader and the Emperor and achieves success — victory for the rebels and peace in the galaxy. Failure (the death of Luke and his friends) is avoided.
The same storytelling framework can apply to your brand messaging. The key, however, is never forgetting the true hero of the story. Hint: It’s not you.
“Every human being wakes up each morning and sees the world through the lens of a protagonist.” — Donald Miller, “Building a StoryBrand”
Your brand may be heroic, but from a customer’s perspective, you are not the hero. They are.
Think about it. You are the main character in your own life. Why would it be any different for your customers?
Your brand is the guide. Your company is Yoda. You get to help the hero — your customers — solve their problems and be successful at getting what they want.
How Does the StoryBrand Approach Work for Brand Messaging?
This blog post is (I hope!) a good example. Notice how I began; I didn’t talk about Media Junction or myself. The first word of this post is “your.” It’s all about you and your difficulties drawing attention to your brand.
Now, I (your humble guide) am in the midst of offering you a plan to solve your problem: using the StoryBrand Framework to clarify your messaging. Later on, I’ll present a few actions you can take on your road toward success and away from failure.
What Is a BrandScript?
“Your StoryBrand BrandScript will be a powerful resource helping you organize and simplify your message, and you’ll use it again and again.” — Donald Miller, “Building a StoryBrand”
The 7-part StoryBrand Framework helps you clarify your messaging by casting your customers as heroes and your company as a trusted guide along your customers’ quests. The StoryBrand BrandScript is a tool to help flesh out the story with critical details.
BrandScript offers helpful prompts to get you thinking about (among other things) your customers, what they want, the problems they face, the guidance you can offer them, and how they define success.
A completed BrandScript is a valuable resource you can refer to time and time again as you refine your website copy, perfect your sales pitch, and craft emails.
The StoryBrand Brandscript tool is free. You can head over to mystorybrand.com right now and try it out. (I told you there would be calls to action.)
Do You Need a StoryBrand Certified Agency or Guide?
If you do decide to go into your BrandScript cold, you may find yourself quickly stymied by questions such as (the following is just a sample):
- “Is there a root cause of your customers' problems? Can you personify this root cause as a villain? What is the villain in your customer's story?”
- “How can you demonstrate competency in solving your customers’ problems?”
- “What transitional calls will you use to on-ramp customers?”
These are not easy questions to answer. It’s one thing to understand the StoryBrand Framework. It’s another thing to determine precisely how it applies to your business and your customers.
Miller goes through each step of the BrandScript process in-depth in his book. He dedicates a chapter to each of the seven story elements. So, the book is an essential starting point for completing your BrandScript on your own.
Another option is to work with a StoryBrand Certified Agency.
StoryBrand Certified Agencies have received the StoryBrand seal of approval for demonstrating their mastery of the StoryBrand framework and their ability to turn BrandScripts into compelling, convincing web copy, emails, sales pitches, and more for their clients.
Beyond that, a StoryBrand Certified Agency can help you with so much more than your BrandScript and your copy.
A full-service digital marketing agency can offer an entire team of professionals who are ready to invest in your brand and who are committed to your success. An agency can provide design, branding, website development, and inbound marketing services, all informed by your StoryBrand-clarified messaging.
Media Junction and StoryBrand
Media Junction was one of the first digital marketing agencies to pursue and receive StoryBrand Certification. We felt StoryBrand was a natural complement to the inbound marketing methodology pioneered by HubSpot. (We are a HubSpot Diamond Agency Partner.)
The StoryBrand and inbound marketing frameworks share a focus on understanding your customers and helping them solve problems. Both see customers as heroes. And both believe the mission of marketing is to establish trust and become reliable, even beloved, guides.
A customer-centered website built on HubSpot, with messaging clarified by StoryBrand, will make your customers feel like heroes. If you would like to learn more, click here to schedule a meeting with our StoryBrand and HubSpot certified experts.