How to Build a Storybrand: Method and More

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Building a Storybrand" by Donald Miller. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know how to build a storybrand? Is there a storybrand process a to follow, and how do you implement it?

Learning how to build a storybrand means that you can establish your brand based on the story you tell. Your storybrand conveys what your brand is about and connects with customers on a deeper level.

Keep reading to find out how to build a storybrand and all about the storybrand process.

How to Build a Storybrand

The best way to transmit a message is via story. There are many different ways to write stories—just think about how many books and movies there are out there—but there’s one tried-and-true formula that’s been tested throughout thousands of years of human history. This is where the storybrand process comes in.

The author, who founded a company called StoryBrand, has streamlined this formula into a process called the storybrand 7-Part Framework (SB7). Using this framework, you’ll follow a step-by-step process to create a brandscript, which is a document similar to the grids or storyboards that storytellers use to create movies or books. Once you’ve created your brandscript, you’ll be able to draw on its ideas to write copy and create content you can use in your marketing materials. 

The brandscript is universal and will work for any size of company anywhere in the world. For example, after implementing the framework, in just four years, the author’s company doubled its revenue.

You can create multiple srandscripts for your company at the overall, divisional, and product levels, and/or for different customer segments. This is the best way to learn how to build a storybrand.

SB7

There are seven elements to the SB7 formula and learning how to build a storybrand:

  1. The hero (customer) wants something and 
  2. Encounters a problem that stops her from getting it. 
  3. She needs the help of a guide (your brand) who has
  4. A plan to help her solve the problem. 
  5. The guide (brand) must call on her to act
  6. The stakes must be clear—what does she stand to lose if she doesn’t act and 
  7. What she might gain if she does act?

Here’s an example of how the formula looks in a story: In Star Wars: A New Hope, hero Luke Skywalker wants the Rebellion to defeat the Empire and restore peace in the universe (1). His problem is that the Empire is very powerful (2). Guide Obi-Wan Kenobi (3) trains Luke to use a lightsaber and trust in the Force (4) and then pushes him to go help the Rebellion take on the Empire (5). If Luke fails, the Rebellion will be destroyed and the Empire will maintain power (6). If Luke succeeds, the Rebellion will avoid defeat (7) and eventually save the universe in the next movies in the series.

Here’s an example of how the formula looks for a brand: (Shortform example: A college student wants study snacks (1) but doesn’t have any free time in which to cook (2). SnackCrate (3) is a company that mails crates of snacks to subscribers once a month (4). The “Subscribe” button on the SnackCrate website calls the student to sign up (5). If the student doesn’t order the snacks, she’ll be hungry (6). If she does, she’ll feel full and she’ll have more free brainpower to put towards studying (7).)

This seven-part story arc is common and popular because it captures the human condition so well. Everyone doubts themselves and wants to save the day and be a hero. This is a part of the storybrand method.

Implement Your Brandscript

Now that you have a brandscript, it’s time to transfer the ideas and content in that script to your marketing materials. The more you can implement your brandscript into your marketing materials, the more customers will sign up to star in your story. This is the next part of the storybrand method.

There are six ways to implement your srandscript and learning how to build a storybrand:

1. Overhaul your website. Most likely, your website has too much noise and distracting information on it. The only two pieces of information you actually need on it are: 1) your brand offers something a customer wants and 2) you can help the customer get what they want. Every single image, idea, and word on your website should be inspired by your brandscript. To overhaul your site:

  • Place a short phrase and image that explain what your brand does on the top part of your website.
  • Make the call to action buttons unmistakable. 
  • Use images of happy-looking people using your products to demonstrate customer transformations. 
  • If you have more than one revenue stream (for example, you paint both cars and houses), come up with an overall message that represents what you do as a whole. (If you absolutely can’t, you can market your revenue streams separately.)
  • Pare down content by replacing text with images, paragraphs with bullet points, and sentences with soundbites.

2. Write a brand logline. A brand logline is a short, often one-sentence description of a brand that summarizes its story and invites customers to star as the hero. The logline should include the customer, problem, plan, and positive stakes from the brandscript. 

  • (Shortform example: If you sell exam prep courses, your line might be: “We help students who are confronted with tough exams improve their study habits to achieve high grades.”)

3. Use a lead generator to create email lists. A lead generator is something that interests customers in your brand and encourages them to give you their email. Lead generators need to do at least one of the following: 1) give your customers something valuable, such as free information, or 2) demonstrate your authoritativeness in the industry. 

  • Some examples are downloadable guides, web series, free trials, free samples, or free events.

4. Build an automated email nurturing campaign. A nurturing campaign is a series of emails that offer valuable information related to your brand. The first three emails in the campaign share information and the fourth is a call to action. Then, the pattern repeats.

5. Collect testimonials about transformation. Testimonials are statements from previous customers that endorse your brand or product. The best testimonials show that: 1) your brand is valuable and 2) a customer had a positive experience working with you that culminated in results. 

6. Build a referral system. A referral system encourages satisfied customers to recommend your brand to others. To create a referral system, create a transitional call to action that you can send to your customers to pass on to their friends, and optionally reward customers for referring friends by offering them a gift or percentage of the sale when their referral results in a purchase.

Now that you know how to build a storybrand, you’ll be able to implement the storybrand method in your own company.

How to Build a Storybrand: Method and More

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Donald Miller's "Building a Storybrand" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Building a Storybrand summary:

  • How storytelling enhances brand marketing
  • Why you should make the consumer the hero of your brand's story
  • The 7 elements that make marketing work

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