Tag: Branding

Storybrand brandscript

Why Every Small Business Needs a StoryBrand Brandscript

Do you know why many small business websites are ineffective?

One of the prime reasons is their messaging. They either fail to convey what they’re about clearly, their message doesn’t “hook” their intended audience, or both. You’ve probably seen this yourself – how many websites do you visit where it’s not immediately clear to you what they do?


A StoryBrand Brandscript is here to be a game-changer for small businesses. Your messaging is important and clarity is key. Let’s take a closer look at how building a Storybrand marketing roadmap can help:

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The problem with most website messaging…

When a website isn’t performing as expected, it’s often not that the products or services are substandard, but that the messaging is not well-communicated. You have to remember that the average person is bombarded with marketing messages daily – that’s a lot of noise to contend with!

You might have the best website design on Earth, but if your messaging is an afterthought, it will rarely be effective. This means you can waste a lot of money on marketing materials and activities for little return on investment. The website itself isn’t what sells your products or services, it’s the words, or copywriting that you use.

As Donald Miller, founder of Storybrand says: “the answer to confusion is always no.” When a customer has to work too hard to understand what you offer, they switch off. On the other hand, if you use a simple communication format, it’s much easier for people to digest.

A second motivator that Miller talks about is things that help your customer to “survive and thrive.” It’s an inbuilt human instinct that our brains will promote first – moving from our most base survival instincts to more advanced techniques once those basics are covered.

One of the most basic forms of communication is the story. It’s a mechanism humans have used for generations to make sense of the world around us and to clearly impart some kind of message. As part of the Storybrand message, Miller highlights the importance of being able to tell your story to engage your customers.

Storybrand brandscript

What is a Storybrand Brandscript?

The Storybrand Brandscript is a framework that helps businesses to better engage with their audiences. It is based upon the philosophy that basically all great stories follow a similar “formula.” You see this within the movies that you find memorable and among the most popular novels.

Here’s how Miller explains the flow of every good story:

“A CHARACTER who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, gives them a PLAN, and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS.”

Those seven highlighted elements are in nearly every popular fiction book or movie. The formula works and people are used to engaging in this way. For businesses, this means that the further you stray from this predictable formula, the more difficult it will be for prospects to engage with your brand.

Simple messaging

When you have too much to your messaging, or parts that confuse such as rambling or extra copy, the website visitor can be both confused and overwhelmed. This includes the use of jargon that people may not understand.

Miller gives an example from his own customers. Kyle Schulz runs an online photography school. His first launch netted him $25,000 in sales but he felt he could do better. After taking a Storybrand course he replaced photography jargon (such as f-stop) with simple language such as “take those great pictures where the background is blurry.” When he sent a revised round of emails to the same list, he netted $103,000 in sales.

It’s not that you should never have any longer stories, but you should ensure that first communications are straight to the point (Miller suggests you could use a “read more” button on home pages where you want to tell a larger story).

At a basic level, when a visitor arrives on your website, three questions should be answered very quickly to motivate them to engage further:

  1. What do you offer?
  2. How will it make my life better (or What’s In It For Me)?
  3. What do I need to do to buy it?

This is coming back to that “survive and thrive” mechanism. Being concise helps to communicate that message better.

The framework

Keeping this idea of simplicity in mind, here’s a quick outline of each of the seven key elements of the Storybrand framework:

  1. Character. A key piece for businesses to understand is that the CUSTOMER is the hero of the story, not the brand. Your business needs to define what the customer wants and do so in their words. This helps to implant a story question in their minds.

    When you can successfully engage your audience with a question, they want to resolve the plot. The idea is that there is a gap between the customer and what they want, one that you can help them to resolve.

    Defining the customer ambition is critical because it is the source of the story gap. Having a single focus is important because this in turn ensures the solution is simple and specific. Storybrand themselves are an example with “we help you clarify your message and grow your business.” Growing your business is a “survive and thrive” issue…

  2. The problem. Miller’s philosophy is simple: companies tend to sell solutions to external problems; customers buy solutions to internal problems.

    When you can talk frequently about a customer’s problems in their own language, they grow to trust you and believe that you truly understand them. It comes back to that framework too – every good story has a “villain” that must be overcome and the customer’s problems can be personified as such.

  3. The guide. As Miller puts it, customers aren’t looking for another hero, they’re looking for a guide. Your brand is there to offer the role of a trusted guide that offers them the tools to overcome their problems.

    Your messaging should be focused on your customer’s success rather than your own. When your customer wins, you both do.

  4. Have a plan. The bottom line is that this is about trust. People trust guides who have a plan.

    For example, in your business customers are unlikely to commit to a purchase without a plan. You can lay this out in a clear series of steps that helps to guide them to your solution. This helps to bring the customer to that climactic scene in the story where their problems are resolved.

    The plan helps to avoid confusion. If you don’t clearly answer “what do I need to do to buy it?” the customer will probably disappear.

  5. The call to action. As Miller puts it, customers don’t take action unless they are challenged to do so. The hero in a story is often challenged to take action when they are having doubts – the same goes for that customer story. Put simply, calls to action should be simple, clear and repeated.

  6. Avoidance of failure. As the Storybrand principle goes, every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending. In fact, psychological studies tell us that humans are more powerfully motivated to avoid pain than to seek pleasure.

    As part of your story, remind customers of the potential consequences if they don’t take action. Emphasize that following your plan helps them to avoid that pain.

  7. Success. Be sure to tell people how your brand can change their lives. When you position success, there are three main psychological desires that may be used as appropriate. People want to:


    • Win some sort of power or position/status.
    • Be unified with somebody or something that makes them whole.
    • Experience some self-realization or transcendence that makes them whole.

These seven areas form the basic template of a Brandscript that any small business can use.

Storybrand brandscript

How a Brandscript benefits small businesses

The basic benefits to small businesses of using a Brandscript include:

  • Better use of marketing spend. As Miller puts it, “marketing shouldn’t be a ripoff.” The bottom line of clarifying your brand message IS your bottom line! People buy when the messaging is clear.

  • Better overall results with or without marketing spend. A clearer journey to the conclusion of a purchase helps more people to make that “buy now” decision (just look at the photography website example we mentioned).

  • An engaged audience. The Brandscript format invites people into your story and encourages them to stay. This is a great opportunity for brands to develop long-term, loyal customer relationships.

  • Develop brand evangelists. When you give customers a great overall experience, they tell others about it.

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Final thoughts

We recommend the Storybrand Brandscript for small businesses because it is genius in its simplicity and it gets results. In our experience with website development, messaging is most often the area that needs work. You can hear more from Donald Miller and Storybrand on their podcast here, their website, or by attending a Storybrand workshop.

When you follow the framework Miller and his Storybrand lay out, you develop a story formula that resonates with people. Storytelling and responding to stories is in our DNA – it engages audiences and it improves their understanding.

Brand strategy Brand strategy

7 Steps for Creating Your Brand Strategy

Think of a strong brand that you know – what makes them stand out above the rest?

It might be their brand story, their emotional impact, their social media presence, their products or any of a number of other factors. What it all adds up to though, is an effective brand strategy.

A defined strategy helps you to tell your story, to market your brand effectively and to attract the right target audience. Your long-term growth prospects may hinge on your ability to craft a strong branding strategy.

Small businesses often look at larger brands and think “but I’m not like them.” Of course you’re not, and that’s part of what makes your particular brand unique. Brand strategy is just as important for you as it is for the big guys, so how can you develop one effectively?

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What is brand strategy?

A brand strategy encompasses several different elements that go into creating a brand identity for your business. This means crafting the perception that your target market has of you and differentiating your brand from competitors.

A strong brand strategy is memorable and attractive to the target audience for your products or services. It defines what you stand for, your voice and your value proposition.

When people think of a brand, they often consider memorable logos, such as the McDonald’s “golden arches” or Apple’s fruit logo. While logos, colors and slogans are part of branding, they are simply the creative elements, not the entire branding story. A strong branding strategy goes much deeper, through the steps we look at below:

#1. Start with your target audience

Who is the target audience you need to reach with your brand strategy? A successful business generally starts with some kind of problem that they can solve better than others – that problem is solved for someone who represents an ideal customer.

If you were to skip considering your target audience before defining your brand strategy, you are unlikely to reach the right people. What if Apple had said something like “play music anywhere” instead of the iconic “1000 songs in your pocket” when they launched the iPod? The first statement is much less impactful, while the second is likely to grab the attention of a certain market.

It’s a matter of understanding who you are targeting and what will appeal to them. This means you need to define:

  • Audience demographics – Age, gender, marital status, religion etc.
  • Psychographics – Values, beliefs, personality, lifestyle…
  • Their industry or business
  • Geographic areas.

A successful brand knows their target audience very well first because they can then craft the brand strategy for that audience.

Brand strategy

#2. Look at competitors’ branding strategy

In most cases, even companies with the most innovative ideas will have competitors. Understanding how those competitors operate is an important part of market research for your branding strategy.

First of all, you need to identify who your competitors are. They may be direct competitors (selling something substantially similar to what you sell), or indirect competitors (they sell an alternative method or product that will satisfy the same consumer need). In any case, their target audience will be substantially similar to your own.

One thing to pay attention to in your market research is the keywords that brands are targeting and getting found for. Who is targeting the same keywords as you? One clue that you need to re-evaluate is if companies that have nothing to do with your industry are winning on the keywords you’re using. This can indicate that the language you’re using isn’t a match for what your customers search for. Also look for keywords that your competitors use that you’ve never thought to target.

To assess your competitor’s brand strategy, look at their overall:

  • Brand positioning – How their brand is perceived in the marketplace
  • Marketing strategy – The channels and strategies they use to engage an audience
  • Brand messaging – The language and messaging style they use.

You’re not doing this to copy competitors, but to make an overall assessment of what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and how you might compete as a brand.

It’s also worth noting that this shouldn’t be a one-time exercise – “competitor audits” are often a regular exercise for successful brands. You might conduct competitor research when you have a new product coming out, or when there have been significant industry changes, for example.

#3. Establish your brand identity and values

Now that you understand who your target audience is, what will appeal to them and how you might develop a brand identity to be competitive, you can establish what that identity and your brand values will be.

To borrow a definition from HubSpot:

“A brand identity is made up of what your brand says, what your values are, how you communicate your product, and what you want people to feel when they interact with it. Essentially, your brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your customers.”

Your brand values help you to make an emotional impact and establish customer loyalty. People like to support brands that share values they identify with. These could be almost anything – quality, integrity, value, innovation… Choose your top five that you’d like to communicate in your messaging.

#4. Define a voice for your brand messaging

Brand messaging is about what you say as well as how you say it. Your brand’s tone of voice might be professional, fun, irreverent, classy, casual, passionate, quirky… The point is that your voice needs to be consistent in all of your marketing channels and appealing to your target audience.

Your voice determines the type of language you will use on any branding materials. For example, let’s say a company with a professional voice and one with an irreverent voice share the value of quality:

  • Professional – “We take pride in delivering the highest quality widgets.”
  • Irreverent – “We take quality widgets seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously!”

Consider some of the most enduring brands – Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Apple… They all have a strong brand voice that is delivered consistently in their messaging. Over time, they have developed “brand equity” – value derived from a recognizable brand name. Consumers will gravitate to them because they know the name and recognize their branding. If they had changed their voice or branding constantly, they wouldn’t have developed that brand equity.

#5. Develop your value proposition

Successful brand strategy requires a clearly defined value proposition (or propositions). These are the main selling points of your brand that help to distinguish you from everyone else.

An effective value proposition should:

  • Tap into the needs of your target audience
  • Describe how the benefits of your product or service are valuable
  • Differentiate your business as the best/preferred choice.

Your value proposition taps into the problems you want to solve for people. It is different to a slogan or tagline because it identifies why you are better than the rest. It may even hint at the reasons why your competitors are lacking. Here are some examples:

  • Uber – “Uber is the smartest way to get around. One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver knows exactly where to go. And payment is completely cashless.”

  • Unbounce – “Build, publish and A/B test landing pages without I.T.”

  • Target – “Expect more, pay less.”

#6. Set brand management guidelines

Your brand guidelines help to ensure that you maintain order and uniformity in your marketing messages. These can encompass every aspect of your brand identity, including visual guidelines (images, colors, fonts and logo usage), key messaging and the platforms you will use. It helps to have these guidelines documented so you can easily share them with others who need to understand them.

Here are some of the things you might include in your guidelines:

  • Examples of the types of images that represent your brand
  • Guidelines for where your logo should be used and in what size
  • Your brand story – a simple summary that gives people insight into your brand
  • The users of your brand and how they are to use it (for example employees, partners and agencies)
  • Your key messages and voice
  • Your color palette
  • Your typography
  • Your voice
  • Your website guidelines.
Brand strategy

#7. Cultivate a consistent marketing strategy

With your overall brand strategy and guidelines in place, it’s important to cultivate a consistent marketing strategy. This includes any online marketing strategies along with what you do offline.

Every business needs to be seen consistently – if you’re a small business establishing a brand identity, it’s probably even more important for you than for the big brands. Developing a marketing calendar and sticking to it can help. For example if you’re producing content marketing, this should be on a very regular schedule. The same goes for your social media marketing efforts.

Plan out campaigns throughout the year that will help your brand to cement your positioning. You might not be a large company, but you can generate good growth by staying on-message and being consistent.

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Final thoughts

As a final note, while it’s important to maintain a consistent brand identity as a whole, that doesn’t mean that everything should remain static. Keep an eye on what’s happening in the market as well as any customer feedback you get – you may need to tweak certain elements as you go (your value proposition/s, for example).

Brand strategy should be clearly defined by businesses large and small. It may be your competitive advantage – not all companies have gone through this exercise. What may your competitors be missing?

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