Today, I proudly welcome my mum and fellow brand strategist at Integrated Marketing Strategies, Karren Hodgkins to the blog to jointly review a book we both thoroughly enjoyed and has led us into interesting discussions. The first review is mine followed by hers, two complementary but very different perspectives!
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller shifts the paradigm surrounding the key perspective when creating a brand story and highlights the power of storytelling to making a brand heard in the marketplace. Donald starts by saying, “Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand.” His logic behind this is sound and easy to test, each of us is a consumer of brands, and, yes, brands that make me the hero and act as my guide draw me deeper.
He offers this approach to get the most out of his book:
Read the book and understand the SB7 framework
Filter your message through the framework.
Clarify your message so more customers listen.”
I’ve completed one, Karren and I are working on two – yes, this is helping hugely, and three, well on three I’ll keep you posted but the testimonials shared in the book suggest this has worked for many.
As a brand strategist I related to this line “The fact is, pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things. And if we haven’t clarified our message, our customers won’t listen.” It is a struggle to cut through the noise clutter we each live with and this book shares great ways to do just that!
The key challenge of the book is outlined as “So what’s your message? Can you say it easily? Is it simple, relevant, and repeatable? Can your entire team repeat your company’s message in such a way that it is compelling?” Wow, I read that and answered no, so did Karren! Spending time here is now our priority for our business, we do it for our clients but even then, found these questions insightful and guiding!
10% through the book, I wanted to know how to make this happen with the simple 7 StoryBrand framework and that’s what the following chapters do, step by step, they walk you through the process of creating a story for your brand, hero, guide, villain and all!
The brand is cast into the role of guide, defined as needing to have a “precise one two punch of empathy and authority in order to move the hero and story along.” Isn’t that exactly what we look for? Now, in case you’re thinking this is a pie-in-the-sky creative-like process, feel reassured, each step is full of practical ways to make this work. To follow the guide thread, Donald elaborates on how to make the brand appear as a guide through testimonials, statistics, awards and logos. Each element is explained and he guides the reader on how to make the most of each aspect.
The book wraps up with using this framework on an internal marketing campaign which piqued my interest but felt like it needed its own book to make the most of the advice shared.
In short, I loved this book, it has a fresh way of sharing the age old story telling techniques with brand application and explains how to make it happen in your business. Highly recommended, currently being recommended to friends, five out of five!
I enjoyed this book very much indeed. It’s easy style together and its incredible practicality is a rare combination. I would highly recommend that you read the book and then complete the BrandScript as a part of the story building process. It brings the focus back to the customer, reminding us to view our product or service from the customer perspective, you see, as Donald Miller explains,“ Customers don’t generally care about your story, they care about their own.”
My own experience in marketing means that I spent a great deal of time nodding in agreement with his approach, that the story we tell is key; it needs to clarify rather the describe products and services, features and benefits. Miller explains that when the communication is clumsy and wordy it is ignored, we make it too hard for the customer to understand what we are offering and what we want them to do. It may even result in their choosing another product or brand. Not because it’s better but rather because the customer understood what was on offer and how to go about sourcing/buying it. “…a good messaging filter will remove all the stuff that bores our customers and bear down on the aspects of our brand that will help…” he says.
I agree that being specific matters! I found it was extremely motivating to have the curating of the brand story recognised as an important foundation for the entire marketing effort and one that directly impacts on its success and bottom line.
The author cautions against undertaking marketing activities that won’t achieve the desired effect, ”Most companies waste enormous amounts of money on marketing,” he states emphatically, “ …pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things. And if we haven’t clarified our message, our customers won’t listen.”
In his seven-part StoryBrand framework he guides the reader through a logical process. This includes positioning the customers as the heroes of the story and ourselves as the guide who has a plan and calls them to action and helps them avoid failure and so it ends in success.
Will investing time and money in crafting a Brand Story be worth the effort? Miller’s answer, “At StoryBrand we’ve had clients double, triple and even quadruple their revenue after getting one thing straight – their message.” As I too am a consultant to business, I had to smile at this line, “Stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work. Hire someone who knows how to craft a clear message.”
Much of what was covered in the book was not new to me but it has definitely clarified the importance of spending the time developing a powerful brand story. The contents of this book have both inspired me and challenged we to make use of the framework going forward. Great job Mr Miller! Five Stars
From the back cover:
New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller uses the seven universal elements of powerful stories to teach readers how to dramatically improve how they connect with customers and grow their businesses.
Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media. Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.
With thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the advanced copy.