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Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

2 mins
book summary
Shawn L
Builds stuff minimally
Table of Contents

People need clarity.

Look at your website. Can you answer these in 5 seconds:

  1. What do we offer?
  2. How could what we offer make your life better?
  3. How can you purchase what we offer?

Can you ‘grunt’ what you’re selling?

Vacuum cleaner. Cleaner floors. Peace of mind.

People buy what they understand the fastest.

7 Elements of Story

1. A character

The character needs something specific. The audience will wonder if the he/she gets what he want.

Customer is your hero, not your brand.

Savvy brands sell an identity.

What does your customer want or want to become?

2. With a problem

3 level of problems:

  • External: the bomb
  • Internal: does he have what it takes? How does that external problem make the character feel.
  • Philosophical: good vs. terrorist. Should and ought.

The “Buy now” button is the climax that solves all 3 problems.

3. With a guide

Your brand is Yoda.

2 things you need to do:

  • Empathy. The guide must be like the character.
  • Have authority. Been there, done that.

4. Gives them a plan

  • Process plan: Define step your customers need to take
  • Agreement plan: A list of commitments you make with your customer

5. That calls them to action

  • Direct at Top right: Buy now. Call us now. Will you marry me.
  • Transitional: Watch this video. Get this PDF. Will you go out with me. This can help you to be known on a topic. Collect emails

6. That results in failure

What pain or frustrations are you helping me to avoid?

Don’t appear too manipulative.

e.g. CarMax: Our 25-point checklist ensures you aren’t buying a lemon

7. That results in success

What is life with you?

  • Show images of happy people using your product

e.g. Landscaping service: External problem solved: time gained Emotional: More time to enjoy the yard, less time wrestling with it.

What not to say

  • Less choices. Max of 3 choices.
  • Must pass the grunt test


  • Mission based: The people we’re helping are the hero. Tell their story and pivot the call to action to the donor.
  • Donor based: Donor is the hero and how their world and identity can change if they donate.