Why Every Small Business Needs a StoryBrand Brandscript

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.

Website messaging must be simple and clear, not an afterthought to pretty design Click To Tweet
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.

Danny Peavey

Danny is the founder and CEO of One Week Website. He is also a certified StoryBrand Guide. When he's not talking about clear messaging or marketing, you can find him drinking amazing coffee, shooting hoops, and spending time with his family.
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