Book Review: Building A Story Brand

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I’ve been a professional writer and copywriter for 50 years now. I’ve written fiction and nonfiction books, articles, blog posts, and a boatload of marketing material. I’ve used the hero’s journey model for more than two decades. So, when I tell you that Building A Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller is a book that taught me a lot, that should carry some weight.

I picked it up because a good and trusted friend told me that he thought I’d like it and learn something. At first glance, I thought it was another one of those books about the magic of the hero’s journey. Even so, I dug into it, because my friend is almost always right when he recommends a book. He sure was right this time.

Lots of people have written about how to use the hero’s journey in both storytelling and in marketing copy. This book is about writing marketing copy, especially web copy. Donald Miller does four important things that make this book unique and helpful.

He points out that you shouldn’t be the hero of the story. Many writers do that, but the customer should be the hero. OK, then, what about the company or the brand? That should be the guide. Think Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars or Haymitch from Hunger Games.

Miller also notes that if there’s no danger, there’s no story that matters. Most other writers don’t mention the danger or underplay it. But the reason we call it the” hero’s journey” is that the hero makes it through the forest when lots of other people don’t. Adding that bit on what will happen if the hero fails in his quest will make your marketing copy and your stories stronger.

If you’re used to jargon-filled marketing books, rejoice! This isn’t one of them. Miller writes good, clean prose and his experience as a screenwriter shows up in many of his clear explanations.

That’s enough right there to make this book worth buying. But Miller also lays out a process for you to use when you sit down to create your own copy. He tells you, step by step, how to execute copy that brings each one into play.

In A Nutshell

If you’re an experienced writer or copy writer, you should read Building A Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller because it will give you some fresh ideas and insights. If you’re like me, you will already know a lot of what’s here, but you’ll benefit from the clear explanations and the practical how-tos.

If you’re not a pro, this is a great book for you to help you either write your own copy for your website or marketing material or evaluate the copy that other people do for you.

Posts about Story Structure

If you want to write a story, here pointers to some of my blog posts about how to do it well.

Story Structures

Business Books and the Hero’s Journey

How to tell a story to your kids or your customers

You can check out some of my highlights and notes from this book on my GoodReads page.


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