How many times have you seen a YouTube ad till the end without hitting ‘Skip Ad’?
How many times have you clicked on an ad link?
How many times have you stopped your mindless scrolling and taken notice of a social media ad?
Not many times, I suppose.
What about those ads that did grab your attention?
They must have something special. A strong storyline.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup, a medium-scale business, or an established organization; if you want attention, you must tell a solid story.
And this is the main idea of Donald Miller’s book, ‘Building a StoryBrand.’
Who Is Donald Miller, and What Are His Storytelling Principles?
Donald Miller is a famous American author and public speaker. He is the CEO of StoryBrand and has helped over 3000 businesses to clarify their brand messaging.
Donald believes that running a successful business is all about good communication.
He says, “Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.”
And the best way to tell the audience clearly about a business is through a story.
Donald’s company, StoryBrand, is built around his storytelling principles that offer complete clarity to craft marketing messages that stand out and grab attention.
His storytelling principles are tested formulas that he has used repeatedly for his public speaking events, networking, and marketing for external brands and his own.
In his widely-acclaimed book, Building a StoryBrand, he explains three questions that any company can use to create a great story around their brand.
Question 1: What Does the Hero — Your Customer — Want?
In the movie ‘Finding Nemo’, the hero, Marlin, witnessed his son being kidnapped and his sole aim is to rescue him.
The movie then goes on to show various difficulties that Marlin faces triumphantly to get his son back.
When the audience can answer the question, ‘What does the hero want?’ very early on, they are filled with intrigue and curiosity.
They become invested in the film and want to know how the hero gets what he/she wants.
Take any Star Wars movie, for example.
There’s always one prime purpose for the hero, and he goes on a harrowing journey to reach his end goal.
The internal question is relevant to your marketing as well.
How to use this for your brand?
Here, you ask the question, ‘What does my customer want?’
Opening your story with this question helps your audience relate to your brand.
To find out that one dominant message for marketing, begin by listing the top five ‘wants’ that your brand can fulfill.
Now, go through each one and find that one ‘want’ to make a great story.
For example: if you sell a fashion or a clothing product, you might want to list five reasons customers buy your product.
- Enhance outlook.
- Feel good from inside.
- Be perceived as fashionable.
- Feel comfortable.
- Hold on to it for a long time.
Pick one or two reasons and weave a story around them. Like this:
“Comfort never goes out of fashion. Because fashion means nothing without comfort.”
And build your brand and marketing messages around this truth.
Question 2: What Is Opposing the Hero – Your Customer – from Getting What She Wants?
Can you imagine how Marvel Comics would be without Thanos?
Can you imagine how Dark Knight would be without the Joker?
Can you imagine how Harry Potter would be without Voldemort?
A villain makes a story exciting and brings the hero to the spotlight.
Similarly, in marketing, you should position your product as a weapon that can defeat the biggest villain.
This villain can be external or internal.
The external reasons are many — loss of productivity, lack of security, time-consuming, spending a lot of money, health problems, or any other buying motivator.
Internal reasons are mainly confusion, frustration, tiring, or self-doubt.
When your customers look at your brand as the weapon to destroy their villain, you will make them feel like heroes!
Question 3: What Happens When the Hero – Your Customer – Doesn’t Get What She Wants?
While you’ve identified what the hero wants and who the villain is in the previous questions, this final question focuses on one of the biggest motivators to buy — fear.
The most significant fear always drives the audience: what if the hero fails?
What if Thanos gets his hands on all of the stones?
What if Joker gets his way with the Batman?
What would happen if Harry Potter dies in his quest?
When you show your customers how their life would be if they fail, it motivates them to improve their stance.
But that’s not all you need to keep your marketing message interesting.
In films and novels, we’re eager to find out what happened because…
…there was a little bit of hope, along with fear.
Your marketing message should not just address how the customer’s life would be if they didn’t do anything now.
It should also promise them positive results when they buy your product.
However, it would be best if you were cautious about using fear.
Add too little of the fear factor, and your message wouldn’t be convincing.
Add too much of it, and you will drive your audience away.
Crafting Your Brand Story Based on Donald Miller’s Three Questions
Your marketing message shouldn’t be outright promotional stuff.
Who would want to buy from a brand that talks only about themselves?
Donald Miller rightly said, “Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand.”
By using Miller’s three questions and putting your audience in the center of your story, you make them feel important.
You strike a chord with your audience, make them look inwards at their own lives, and recognize how they can defeat the villain and enhance their outlook.
Your audience feels the power to address problems and make their lives better — with your product as the weapon.
Examples of Shopify Stores with Great Brand Stories
Allbirds use natural materials like wool, tree, and sugar to create planet-friendly shoes, t-shirts, jackets, and sweaters.
But all of Allbirds’ products are handmade with fibers and other materials from natural plants and sheep that ‘live the good life.’
True to their theme, ‘Mother Nature is our muse,’ the website has images and videos that illustrate the beautiful stories of how they create shoes and clothes from natural, sustainable materials.
When you land on Suta’s website, you don’t just see the photos of sarees. You see pictures that depict how the audience would feel when they wear Suta’s sarees — elegant, warm, and sensational.
In every product description, Suta has a story behind it.
It makes you think of the woman wearing that saree, what she thinks, how she feels, and her qualities.
In every page of Suta, it reinforces that saree is not just a piece of clothing; it’s an emotion and a work of art.
Velasca is an online-only store that sells stylish Italian shoes.
But they stand out from other brands with a story that tells everything in five words — ‘From our artisans to you.’
Velasca sells handcrafted Italian shoes made by local Italian artisans to customers directly. No middlemen.
Embed video: https://www.velasca.com/#md-home-video
And how customers can spend less for high-quality, handcrafted Italian shoes.
Fresh Heritage has a pretty specific target market — men of color.
They offer high quality, chemical-free grooming products that solve modern-day grooming problems for men of color’.
Image of Fresh Heritage website and social media
Two brothers started Fresh Heritage after their trip to Africa, where they came across traditional grooming habits and oils for men with coarse and curly hair.
By combining the age-old traditions with the modern men’s grooming needs, they started Fresh Heritage for today’s men of color.
Summing It Up
Most Shopify stores sell the most everyday items like shoes, clothes, and grooming products, and only a few stand out.
They position their brand with a relatable, human story.
To capture your customer’s attention, craft your marketing messages around Miller’s three brand story questions that focus on:
- A single thing that the customer wants,
- An internal or external enemy, and
- A peek into what their life would look like if they don’t buy your product and how your product can make it better.
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