5 keys to unlocking the power of the StoryBrand framework for your brand
Have you struggled to get your message out or really connecting with the people you want to reach? If so, it’s probably because your brand message was unclear and/or too complicated. If that’s the case, you’ve probably been looking for a way to draw your customers in and connect deeply with your brand.
Enter stories and storytelling.
Human beings have a universal fascination with stories. It’s not just about being entertained: story is a sense-making device. We see the world through the lens of the stories we tell, the ones we carry inside of us, and the new ones we hear every day.
When we apply storytelling narratives to brand messaging, we plug into this human need and desire for story to create a real connection to the people we want to work with. As I described in a previous post, this is the magic of StoryBrand, as it helps businesses simplify their brand messaging into a story-driven communication framework.
Although the framework itself is beautifully simple, it can be tricky to implement for your own brand because you are so close to all the information about your business - most of which your potential customer does not need to hear- yet! So I wanted to share 5 top things to know to help you maximize your results when implementing the StoryBrand Framework in your business:
1- The key to a good story is successfully opening a story loop
Everything that motivates you to act opens and closes story loops for you. If you’re lonely that’s an open story loop. Finding a friend who gets you is the closing of that story loop. If you’re in pain that’s the opening of a story loop. If you find the perfect remedy and you feel well again, that’s the closing of that story loop.
As a result, when executed well, a story can promote powerful feelings such as happiness, fear, possibility, hope, or power.
Story also holds our attention better and longer than other forms of communication. During a lecture, the average person is daydreaming/thinking about something else about 30% of the time. But if that same person walks into a cinema their brain won’t daydream for the whole hour and a half or two hours that they are watching that story.
So the key to successful communication is this: you have to open and close story loops.
The StoryBrand framework gives you seven ways to open and close story loops. There are only seven, which is why it’s so easy to remember, and once you’re familiar with it you’ll realize that there are only seven in every story you’ve ever heard.
2- Every story needs a hero.
The next thing to be very clear about when building your brand message is that your customer should be the hero of the story, not you or your business. This is the hardest part for most business owners to get used to!
In a movie, the hero is the main character and in most movies, you care about them, want you to connect with them and want them to win the day. You know they are on a journey to achieve happiness or the resolution of a problem.
That's the story of your business too.
3- Every story is really about a problem.
The next thing to be very clear about when building your brand message and implementing StoryBrand is that every customer is coming to you because you solve a problem they have. Yes, the only reason they are going to your website or coming into your store or answering your email is because you can help them resolve a problem. It’s about searching for a happy ending.
Identifying the nature of that problem is key. It’s your job to define something they want and need that you can help them with. That’s how you establish a connection with them. It’s how you really resolve their problem, not just sort of resolve their problem. And as soon as you resolve the problem, you’ve closed the story loop and the story is over.
The thing is, most people just don’t talk about the problem. They talk about themselves and how they started the company and how great their company is and they show you pictures of their office building. But that’s not a story hook.
The biggest paradigm shift in the StoryBrand framework, is that you identify what the character wants, you identify the problem they are trying to resolve, and therefore, how you can enter into their story.
Which leads us to the top 3 questions your customer has and which your marketing materials must answer within 5 seconds of people landing on your website:
- What do you offer?
- How will it make my life better?
- What do I need to do to buy it?
4- If there’s nothing at stake, there’s no story.
Every story must have stakes. Stakes keep the plot moving, keep the characters growing and evolving, and keep your audience engaged.
Being aware of the stakes in your story means piquing and holding their interest throughout their interaction with you. It means ensuring they are invested in the outcome of the story you’re telling. And if it’s about them, they’re probably interested!
To define your stakes, you need to ask questions like:
- What does my customer stand to gain?
- What do they stand to lose through their problem?
- What stands in the way of them doing this?
Let's apply this to Harry Potter.
- Harry stands to gain freedom for himself and the entire wizarding community by defeating Voldemort
- Harry might lose his life, and the lives of his loved ones, through the conflict with Voldemort.
- Various obstacles such as Dementors, mountain trolls, Aunt Marge (and countless other things!) stand in his way.
As you can see, when there aren’t any stakes, there’s no question that demands resolution.
When you don’t define what your customer wants, you fail to open a story gap and there’s no reason for them to engage with you. Here’s how story gaps work. A study on curiosity by George Loewenstein found that we actually get feelings of anxiety when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know:
“The fact that curiosity increases with uncertainty (up to a point), suggests that a small amount of knowledge can pique curiosity and we are compelled to seek out the information to reduce those feelings.”
In marketing terms, if there’s nothing at stake, there’s no reason to buy. If you open a story gap between their problem and how you can resolve it, you actually compel people to want to find out more. You also tell them what life will look like if they don't buy from you. Those are the stakes in the story.
5- Every story is really about people’s innate desire to transform into a better version of themselves.
Think about all the reality TV shows out there that are about makeovers and transformation. All the books and movies that tell a story of transformation. Human beings are always interested in what change looks like and the more difficult things are, the more interested they are in changing themselves.
The same applies to our sense of self, not just out outward circumstances. People want to become better, stronger, more [fill in the blank], and companies that assist in an identity transformation for their clients create passionate fans of their brand.
To tap into this for your brand, ask yourself, “How does my customer want to or wish to be described by others?”
You can then tell and show them what their life will look like after they have worked with you or if they do buy from you. For example, if they want to be perceived as a savvy homeowner, you make sure you help them become a savvy homeowner by structuring your services to that end. Then you paint a picture of that outcome by showing them that happy vision, and their problems resolved.
So to end your story you do this: figure out how customer’s life will look externally after their problem is solved, how this will make them feel (internally), and how that resolution will make things better overall.
☑ Take Action
* Want help implementing StoryBrand into your Marketing? We help businesses implement the framework effectively to achieve greater conversion rates so you get the kind of results you’re really looking for. You can reach out to us anytime.
- If you're ready to learn more about the power of storytelling, download my free PDF, ‘The Messaging Makeover’.