Audiobook review - Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

My personal review of this audiobook, a formulaic framework to marketing. Using deep humanistic values of storytelling to reach your users. Genius!

Audiobook review - Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen


I used to think of marketing as a "dirty word". As in, it is icky to 'sell yourself'. Or that iterating ideas loudly is a form of 'boasting'.

To overcome this, I was looking up some resources on marketing. And, I am grateful that I tried out this audiobook. Not only has it helped me see aspects of lead generation in a positive light, but it has also had another unexpected effect.

Thank you, Donald Miller for making me feel like a kid again. For bringing me into a world of stories, which I left behind years ago. This audiobook had me re-living my favorite tales once again, with a new breath of life and perspective.

"Here's to helping the good guys win. Because in a good story, they always do." - Storybrand

Storytelling as a framework for business

In the world of social media, where there is more noise than ever - it is important to have a cohesive strategy in business.

I guess I was just never taught these formally, but it is never too late to learn.

Basically, Storybrand frames every user within the hero's journey story framework. I'll give more examples below, but here is the low-down.

Storybrand Framework

Customer = Hero
Product = Guide/Mentor
Customer pain points = Antagonist and plans for world domination

Takeaways and top lessons

Here are my three takeaways from the book:

1️⃣ The customer is the hero
2️⃣ Positioning a product as the guide
3️⃣ Make clear call-to-actions

Let's get into it!

1️⃣- The customer is the hero

Everyone wants to be a hero. Yeah, seriously! 🦸

The mistake that many businesses make is to position the product as the hero. Instead, seeing the customer as the hero is the key. It serves to reach people and needs on a deeper level.

It reminds me of this concept called Maslow's heirachy of needs. Basically, after having the basic necessities covered (ie. food, shelter, clothing, and wifi) - people long for a higher sense of belonging or purpose.

What is more pure and fun, than to be a hero. A hero for your family, a hero of a cook, a tidy-hero, and the list goes on.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs (licensed under CC3.0 - Wikimedia Commons)

This is genius-level marketing.

It is appealing to the user or customer at a deeper psychological level than a basic commodity (ie. bread, lettuce, milk, etc).

Read on to see how this ties into marketing a product.

2️⃣- Positioning a product as the guide

Yoda, is one of my earliest memory of a hero's guide/mentor. George Lucas has managed to seal this little green man into a figure that's forever remembered in mankind's history.

"Yoda's tear" by niallkennedy is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Yoda of Star Wars is the quintessential guide in the story of Luke Skywalker. The purest forms of a 'guide', as Storybrand defines it.

I went back to the classic scene in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke attempts but fails to lift the X-Wing out of the swamps of Dagobah. Yoda (the mentor) was simply living on the planet, where he:

  • appears when Luke is stuck, and showing what is possible with the force
  • gets Luke unstuck with his ship and allowing him transport to the next chapter in his journey at the world of Bespin

If we look from a purely third-person view, Yoda isn't the most appealing character. He is green, small, and all wrinkly. Speaks in riddles all the time.

Yet, he commands such a visceral and innate feeling of being a true master.

Without him, Luke Skywalker would not have awakened his true potential. He shows up at various other pivotal moments to get Luke 'un-stuck'. Another of this is when Luke was battling his inner demons about his father.

What I'm saying here is that Yoda fulfills a deep and human wish for a guide that enables us to achieve a true transformation.

Why Yoda is so prolific is just because of that inner longing for transformation.

George Lucas, in his genius, was able to tap into the inner human desire. What a reminder of the power of storytelling.

Applications of being a guide

This bit is a self-note and my epiphany from the above concept.

I don't need to get too stuck up with appearances, or being the most eloquent speaker. Or have the best product, or design.

What is more important is self-positioning. Or product positioning. To be one that enables others to make that change, transformational leap, or life-changing decision.

People will remember the essence, overarching story, or internal feeling more than the actual guide.

People are emotional beings. They remember the feeling.

That is the core of what I want to deliver, and I wish to get better at this. As Yoda would put it: "Do. Or do not. There is no try."

3️⃣- Make clear call-to-actions

This is the mistake that a lot of businesses make, according to Donald Miller. Heck, it is actually true of me as well.

Most businesses think that they are doing a hard sell of the product. Most of the time, it actually comes across as a whimper. Confusing, unclear, and does not engage action.

There are two ways of doing it. One is a direct call to action, which is a clear and unabashed message to the user to DO SOMETHING.

So, I am going to apply this right now. Subscribe to my newsletter! My current focus is on personal health with wearables. So, don't miss out on the latest insights and get your health nuggets right in your inbox.

Right.... with that out of the way, the second way is a transitional call to action. That means an indirect way of getting users/customers to do something.

This could involve giving away high-value and packaged content like e-books, in exchange for emails.

I'm still early on in the making of this site. But, I do have some ideas in my head on creating tools, packaging ideas, or offering free courses. Maybe, check back for this in the future! 😝


  • The role of the guide (in a story) is to enable the hero
  • The job of the guide is not to get caught up with appearances but to streamline the experience or to get the customer un-stuck
  • Make clear and bold messages

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

4 hr 56 min (Unabridged) audiobook. A clear and formulaic approach to marketing.

Get audiobook

Batman photo credits: Sajjad Ahmadi on Unsplash

David Tang