When Implementing the StoryBrand Framework, Avoid These Common Mistakes

A Quick Breakdown of the StoryBrand framework

StoryBrand is a powerful messaging framework developed by author and business leader Donald Miller. The premise? Any business or nonprofit organization should offer solutions to your customer’s problems. When you clearly position your products and services as the answer they’ve been searching for, your bottom line grows in the process.

See a more detailed breakdown of StoryBrand and creating a clear brand message right here.

Common StoryBrand Mistakes

As a StoryBrand Certified Guide, I’ve seen firsthand the power of using the StoryBrand framework. It’s an incredible tool I’ve used to help more than 140 organizations of all sizes grow.

But like any tool, if not used correctly, you risk missing the mark. In other words, the StoryBrand Framework is descriptive, not prescriptive.

Mistake #1: Don’t confuse your StoryBrand message for compelling copy

When crafting a clear message, I love to consider the 7 parts of your brand story to be unique ingredients that can be dosed in various ways to create an endless array of recipes.

The brand message should include talking points that set and guide your direction. Then, your brand’s message is what enables you to write compelling copy that converts.

Mistake #2: Clarity is paramount, but so is personality

Whether you are writing fundraising appeals, website copy, or anything in between, clarity should be a cornerstone of everything you write. In the words of Donald Miller, “if you confuse, you lose”.

With that in mind, clarity does not resign you to writing stale, watered-down content. Your personality ,if you’re a personal brand, or your business’s personality should come shining through in your StoryBranded copywriting.

Remember: authenticity is paramount. If the experience a client or customer has on your website, via paid ads, or even on social media doesn’t match up with the voice, tone, and experience of doing business with you—it’s an immediate disconnect. So, fight for clarity first. Then, make sure everything still authentically sounds like you.

Mistake #3: Don’t solve all their problems at once

The StoryBrand Framework comprises seven important steps. As we discussed, this is a story-telling approach seen repeatedly in Hollywood, from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings to The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

As you focus your story around the hero (your customer), it’s important to next solve their external internal, and philosophical problems. Part of the exercise here, if you work with me to nail your brand message, is to write down all the major problems your audience faces.

This is a helpful practice, but can quickly become overwhelming if you try to have your message, copy, and marketing solve all their problems at once. Sure, they may be struggling with a lack of experience, time, and experience (and you should capture all their problems in your BrandScript). Unfortunately, your marketing efforts quickly get diluted when you try to tackle them all at once.

Instead, list out all the problems you know they face and then consider which problem, in particular, they ascribe the highest value to. Does your customer suffer from a lack of time most? Or, is it specific expertise that plagues them more?

Quick Tip: Just because you tackle problems one by one doesn’t mean you avoid the others. Simply be intentional about cleary solving their most important problems first.

The StoryBrand framework is descriptive, not prescriptive

The companies who struggle to “do StoryBrand” often fail to remember that it’s a framework to tailor to their context, not an item to check off the list. In my experience in working with emerging and enterprise brands alike, StoryBrand consistently describes a helpful approach, not prescribes a one-size-fits-all process.

Nail your brand message in 90 minutes or less

If you’ve read Building a StoryBrand, attended the StoryBrand Livestream with Donald Miller, or heard about the framework from a trusted friend, you know how important it is to promote a clear, compelling brand story.

Unfortunately, knowing it’s important is only the first step. Doing it on your own takes days or even weeks to complete. As a StoryBrand Certified Guide, I’ve worked with nonprofits (grassroots to global) and businesses (startup to enterprise) and can help you nail your clear brand story in 90 minutes or less. Schedule a consultation with me today to get started.


Evan Cox

For more than fifteen years, I have served businesses, nonprofits, churches, and the leaders who guide them. Whether serving on staff at internationally-renowned nonprofits or running a coffee company in Southeast Asia, my work has taken me around the globe. Today, I work alongside organizations as a StoryBrand Certified Guide, so that they communicate the right message and then infuse it throughout all their marketing–from strategy and copy to websites and fundraising.

5 Simple Steps to Creating A Winning Sales Funnel

Whether you’re a business owner DIYing your sales funnel or part of a larger team, this sales funnel checklist will save you an enormous amount of hassle.