Craft a Compelling Company Story- Building a Story Brand (Key Take-aways)

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller is one of the best resources we’ve found on how to craft a compelling company story to appeal to prospective customers.

Take-away #1: No one cares. It’s your job to make people care about what you’re selling.

There is so much noise competing for our attention. We are bombarded every minute of the day with someone wanting to tell us something. Storytelling is really the only thing that cuts through the noise and gives your prospective customer something to hold onto and relate with.

Take-away #2: Great storytelling follows a formula.

Miller jokingly says that knowing this formula will ruin every movie for us forever and it’s true.

The formula: A character has a problem and meets a guide, who gives them a plan and calls them to action that helps them avoid failure and ends in success.

Think about it. Hunger Games, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter… they all follow this formula. Because it works.


Not convinced? Let’s try Star Wars.


Take-away #3: You are not the hero in this story.

This probably should be Take-away #1, but I’ve been saving it. You are not the hero in your brand story. Why? Because if you present yourself as the hero, you’re unwittingly competing with the prospect because he/ she thinks they’re the hero of their story. And they are. What you or your company can be, though, is a guide- a trusted, weathered guide that can help them accomplish the real thing they desire. (Hint, it’s not an external solution, it will need to be a solution that addresses an internal solution).


Take-away #4: Applying it to your business must be authentic.

People can sniff out bs a mile away.

Here’s an example. Apple grew much larger only after Steve Jobs began filtering his message through the lens of a story. When Apple launched their Lisa computer in 1983, it drew lackluster reviews and the nine-page ad in the New York Times spelling out the technical speak for it drew even fewer fans. After running the animated studio Pixar, Jobs came back to Apple with a clear message, appealing to everyone’s intrinsic desire to be understood.

From Building a Story Brand:

When Apple began filtering their communication to make it simple and relevant, they actually stopped featuring computers in most of their advertising. Instead, they understood their customers were living, breathing heroes, and they tapped into their stories. They did this by (1) identifying what their customers wanted (to be seen and heard), (2) defining their customers’ challenge (that people didn’t recognize their hidden genius), and (3) offering their customers a tool they could use to express themselves (computers and smart phones). … Notice, though, the story of Apple isn’t about Apple; it’s about you. You’re the hero in the story and they are the guy you go see when you need a tool to help win the day.

In its story telling, Apple succeeded at positioning the customer as the hero and themselves as the Guide. Brilliant, right?

So, how do you apply it to your business? Here’s the framework author Donald Miller shares in the book, something he calls SB7.

The StoryBrand Framework (with Storybrand Principles ):

  1. A Character (The customer is the hero, not your brand).
  2. Has a Problem (Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems).
  3. And Meets a Guide (Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a Guide).
  4. Who Gives Them a Plan (Customers trust a Guide who has a plan).
  5. And Calls Them to Action (Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action).
  6. That Helps Them Avoid Failure (Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending).
  7. And Ends in Success (Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them).

What’s your story? How are you your customers’ trusted guide? Or are you trying to be the hero? When you feel confused, the author suggests clarifying your message. Try scripting out the story based on the components above. In this book, Donald Miller goes on to discuss a Story Brand Brandscript that can be used to craft your own story, even sharing a storyboard that can be filled out online.



Are there other resources you’ve found on how to craft a compelling company story? What are they?

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