The Story Brand Framework: Why Your Startup Needs It

What is the Story Brand Framework?

Donald Miller, the CEO of StoryBrand, Inc., created a marketing and branding strategy called the StoryBrand framework. It is based on the belief that any business can connect with its audience and accomplish its objectives with the support of a clear and compelling brand message.

In this highly saturated world, you, as a business owner, need to constantly communicate your brand’s story to your customers. Even if you do not have a story, your customers will shape one themselves, because that is what our brains were wired to do. It is much better to control what story people see in your brand by deliberately placing one for them to follow. The client should serve as the hero, the brand should serve as the guide, and there should be a problem, that the guide can help the hero solve.

Image taken from: StoryBrand

1. The Hero

Think about the last book that you have read or movie that you have seen. No matter what or who it is about, there is always a character who seeks something. The whole story always revolves around the character and not around anything else. In Harry Potter we see Harry, who wants to be a great magician and prove himself to the world, and in James Bond we see a skilled and suave secret agent who is tasked with saving the world from various threats.

Why is it that all books, movies, plays and courses deliberately contain a character around whom revolves the whole story, but so many of our brands do not?

As a business founder, your first priority is to identify who your character is and a single thing that character wants. Think about your perfect customer: where does this person live? What are his or her skills, priorities, values? What makes them different? Once you have a clear picture of who your character is, write a short sentence to describe him. 


  • An overwhelmed student 
  • A traveler on a budget
  • A single mom 

Try your best to make the hero as relatable to your target audience as possible, illustrating their character, desires, and problems clearly. You can do that through your visual identity, using your logo, photography,  graphics, and video. Alternatively, it is a good idea to use client testimonials throughout your website and other marketing channels to help you target audience relate to you hero.

2. The Challenge

Now that you have defined your hero, it is just as important to clearly state what challenge they are facing that you can help solve. It can be internal, such as a lack of skills, resources, time or confidence, or external, such as competition or outside conditions.

This step of the process is highly important, as you can have the best marketing, product, or team, but if you do not fully understand what problem you are solving, then you will sooner or later disconnect with the needs of your customers. 


  • An overwhelmed student, who wants to succeed in University
  • A traveler on a budget, who wants to see the world through the eyes of the locals 
  • A single mom that wants to start her own business, but doesn’t have the time for it

Remember to dig deep and find a particular issue, and not just something general, as this will serve as the driving force behind your message and help your hero make a positive decision towards your product or service.

3. The Guide

In the StoryBrand framework, the guide is the that brand that helps to solve the challenge that the hero is facing. Acting as the hero's mentor, the guide is a crucial component of the marketing message and aids the protagonist in navigating their trip and overcoming their obstacle. The hero should regard the guide as a trustworthy and dependable source of guidance and assistance. They should be able to show off their special talent or domain of knowledge while also having a clear plan or solution for assisting the hero in overcoming their obstacle.

Many brands mistakenly make the guide into the hero, trying to relate to the customer on a deeper level. Unfortunately, this is a large mistake that has to be avoided. You may ask: why doesn’t my customer want to meet another hero, but instead wants to meet a guide? Your customer is the hero in their own story. They do not need to be replaced, they need aid to be the best hero they can possibly be. They need your brand to be their guide, to be their Q, and let them remain their own James Bond. Be their weapon and not their hero. 

Before moving on to the next step, try and put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Are you being a guide? If so, how? Write it down in great detail and try to pinpoint where in your message your brand is not acting as a guide, but is instead trying to be the hero in somebody else's story.

4. The Plan

Think about the last product you have bought or service you have used. At what point have you made the decision to purchase? Research states that the tipping point for most purchases occurs when a customer can clearly see a plan. 

If it is a weight loss product, then you logically want to know exactly how and when it can be implemented. If it is a new phone, you want to clearly understand how to set it up and what features it has. If you have developed an app for personal finances, your potential user wants to see the steps through which their finances will be transformed.

It is not up to your customer to figure out exactly what their plan is. It is up to you to give them a simple and actionable plan to follow. 

The perfect plan consist of 3-5 steps. Do your best to not overcomplicate is, because your customer doesn’t need to know all the details to know whether or not your product or services truly solves their problem.  


  1. We create a profile for you.
  2. We get your goals and where you currently are.
  3. You get a personalized workout and nutrition program, as well as personal coaching when and where you want it.

5. The Call To Action

Finally, the time has come to convert your hero into a customer by creating a clear call to action. The simplest thing that you can do as a business owner is to open your website or any other marketing channel you are using and see what call to action you currently have and where you have positioned it. 

Consider these questions: 

  • What should be my call to action?
  • Is the “call to action” button apparent and at all times located on our marketing channels? 
  • Is the checkout process simple and straightforward? 
  • What can we do to make it better?

Once you have successfully positioned your calls to action, you need to communicate the negative consequences that will arise if your customer doesn’t buy your product or service. The truth is that all people want to avoid failure or tragic ending, and as a result we take action. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to motivate the hero to take action.

Ask these questions:

  • What might be the negative consequences of not having purchased my product or service?
  • Have I clearly communicated these consequences to my customers?
  • Where have I communicated them?

6. The Success

The Success is the last stage in the StoryBrand framework. It marks the conclusion of the hero's journey and offers a chance to highlight the importance of the brand, acting as a guide, in assisting the hero in realizing their goal.

Who doesn’t love a happy ending? Show your customers what their success looks like with your product or service. You can demonstrate this by showing the reward your hero will receive for taking control of their life and using your product or service as a help. The reward must be particular, pertinent to the hero's problem, and something the hero is actively working to obtain. It should also be something that sets the brand)apart from the competitors and demonstrates the guide's special skill or domain of knowledge in aiding the hero in overcoming adversity.

Ask yourself: 

  • What does success with my product or service look like?
  • How can I help my customers see the success after doing business with us? 

Once you are done writing out the Story Brand Framework for you startup, you can now create persuasive marketing messages that connect with your target demographic in your highly saturated market. You can create a narrative that relates to the aspirations, concerns, and wants of your audience by concentrating on the hero's journey and the changes the protagonist experiences.

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