How To Build Your Brand Story

October 6, 2023

StoryBrand is a powerful messaging framework developed by author and business leader Donald Miller. The premise is that your business needs to offer solutions to your customer’s problems. When you clearly articulate your products and services as the answer they’ve been searching for, your business or nonprofit grows in the process.

The 7 Parts of the StoryBrand framework

The Character

Every compelling story or major motion picture revolves around a central character. That person is the dynamic hero on a journey. Every character in a story has a desire to transform or meet a goal.

The Problem

Early in the story the character will face a problem. A challenge or obstacle arrives to hook us into the story. Rarely is there just one problem.

There’s an external problem. This is something the character tangibly doesn’t have—expertise, tools, skills, time, money, etc.

There’s an internal problem. This problem tugs at their emotions—fear, doubt, guilt, frustration, anger, etc.

There’s a philosophical problem too. This represents something broader good versus evil. Examples: A villain shouldn’t take over the world. The guy deserves to get the girl.

Know that without the problem, the story doesn’t matter.

The Guide

Next, a wise person enters the story. They’ve been there before. They now have the knowledge or experience. They’ve won the battle previously.

Some of our more famous Hollywood guides include Obi Won Kenobi (also Star Wars) and Haymitch (The Hunger Games).

A balanced guide displays empathy and authority.

Empathy reminds the hero that they understand their pain. They have been there. The get it. Authority reassures the hero they have what our character needs.

The Plan

Any plot that has too many controlling ideas will lose the audience. Instead, there needs to be a clear and trackable plan. A plan reassures the character and audience are following a proven path to an end result. And human psychology studies confirm that the greater the detail, the harder it is to remember. For this reason, the best stories take 3-4 stops to connect the dots in the overall plan.

Calls Them to Action

Giving the character a plan is good, the plan needs to call them to action, also. Consider Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. He was called to action to defeat the Death Star. It’s a climatic scene is a turning point for our character. He is being called to become a Hero.

Yet, for many businesses a direct call to action (think “schedule a call” or “buy now” doesn’t accurately represent where the customer is at in the buyer’s journey.

For that reason, every good story needs a transitional call to action as well. In business this can be a guide, quiz, assessment or even course.  Your business is working to build trust.

Point the Character Toward Success

In stories it is human nature to root for Success. Elsa ends year round winter (Frozen). The Empire needs to be defeated (Star Wars). The dragon needs to be slain (The Hobbit). You get the picture…

When thinking about your business, customers or clients are also paying for an outcome. They want success or a solution to their problem.

Help Them Avoid Failure

It is important to highlight what’s at stake is if no action is taking. Understanding what could happen due to inaction is a powerful motivator. Example, Katniss likely wouldn’t have volunteered as tribute in The Hunger Games if her family and community we’re not at risk.

These seven steps outline the elements of the StoryBrand framework. Remember, the  character only becomes the hero after significant change. At the beginning of a story they are typically weak and unsure. That is why your business doesn’t want to be the Hero. You want to be the The guide. Guides have been there. They are reliable and trustworthy. This is a position of strength. From here you can lead your customers to solve their problems.

Ready to learn more: How to Build a Storybrand for your Business or Nonprofit