Building a Story Brand

Out of the thousands of books on my shelf, I only have 100 or so marketing books. Why? Because I have a fear of marketing books. All too often marketing books are just low-tier, generic ideas that don’t genuinely help: “you need a call to action, you need click funnels, you need a niche”. These and many more generic ideas can be found in a lot of marketing books.

So, I tend to avoid marketing books. But StoryBrand wasn’t entirely a generic book. The book takes a very unique approach to branding, which caught my attention.

StoryBrand believes brands require, well, a story. Since there is so much marketing content out there already, in order for us to be recognized and understood, we need a story. Great. Now how do we make story driven marketing? That’s where the best parts of this book come in.

The book spends many pages teaching you how to create a story and then how to refine each element of the story. With the storybrand script provided in the book, you learn how to create marketing which has a main character, a villain, a problem to overcome, a guide for the main character (your brand), and also calls people to action. Which hopefully leads them to success.

And as simple as that sounds, it is not. I spent well over 20 hours trying to think of different ideas to fit into the scripts I produced, and it wasn’t easy. For example, villains tend to be rather lackluster when they are abstract as opposed to being concrete. So, if you think “ignorance” is a good villain for your storybrand, then you’re wrong.

If you are interested in branding, then I recommend buying this book. The storybrand script idea, I believe, was useful enough to warrant buying the book. But only buy the book for the storybrand script idea. Because midway through the book, the book becomes very generic. 

The author begins to apply some of the ideas to different companies, which is great for example sake, but it becomes repetitive. So much so that the book begins to feel like another book which gives generic explanations of why “company x” is successful.  And unfortunately nearly half the book is like this.

In addition to that, the book almost never adds data to back the arguments given. We have to accept that the storybrand framework just works. No company data comparing before and after, no wide scale studies, nothing. We are left to just accept at face value the claims the author makes.

So, in conclusion, I would still recommend buying the book, but only for the storybrand script ideas and advice, that is where the book shines. Outside of that, if you are obsessive about reading books to the end, then prepare to be hit by 80pages of generic marketing text.

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Ideasinhat is a business development analyst and longtime reader of academic literature. He writes books and essays on science and philosophy, and posts them to this website. The essays, as with the books, cover topics from psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science to economics, politics, and law.

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