006 | Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

In Building a StoryBrand, New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller takes the lessons he learned while filming a movie in Hollywood – the dos and don’ts of great storytelling – and applies them to the world of business and branding.

“Customers don’t generally care about your story,” Miller says, “they care about their own. The essence of branding is to create simple, relevant messages we can repeat over and over again so that we brand ourselves into the public consciousness.”

The best way to do that, Miller says, is through story. Always, always, turn it into a story. Because who doesn’t love a good story, right? The reality is, human beings are wired to pass information along through story. Story works. Story sticks.

At one point in the book, Miller jokingly apologizes for “ruining movies” for his readers, because he knows in the pages to come he will explain that nearly every book, every story, and every movie we have ever consumed – at least the ones we liked – follow the same basic formula. Yes, there is a formula. Movies or books that don’t stick to this formula almost always fail, and companies who don't use it in their branding are likely doomed as well. Any great story will follow the same basic framework, which is:

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 a SUCCESS.

Luke Skywalker (CHARACTER) wants to make something of his life and get away from his uncle's farm (PROBLEM). Then, he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi (GUIDE), who teaches him the ways of the Force (PLAN) and brings him to the heart of the battle against the Empire (CALL TO ACTION). Against all odds (AVOIDING FAILURE), Luke blows up the Death Star and saves the Galaxy (SUCCESS).

Good Will Hunting. The Lord of The Rings. The Lion King.

Seeing a pattern here?

In the story of your customer’s life, you have to position your products, your brand, and your services as that GUIDE. According to Miller, it is a business’s sole purpose to help its customers find success – whatever that may be.

“People don’t buy the best products; they buy the products they can understand the fastest,” says Miller.

Building a StoryBrand is the single most eye-opening book on marketing I’ve ever read. While other books have served to provide great tactics for execution, Building a StoryBrand told me how the game works. Miller provided information that was so understandable, so palatable, that I nearly finished the book before FedEx left my porch. It was so easy. It went down like water. And more importantly, the message stuck.

Maybe it’s because he told me a story.


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Here's a link to the book:

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