Book Summary For Designers: Building A StoryBrand

Communicating the value you offer to clients or customers is essential to building your business. But in a crowded market, it can be challenging to stand out and attract the right audience.

The book Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller provides a framework for crafting a clear and compelling message about how you help clients overcome their key challenges and achieve their goals.

By positioning your clients as the heroes of the story and focusing on their struggles and journey, you can forge a powerful emotional connection. This leads to gaining more engaged clients or customers and referrals to grow your business.

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to refresh your brand messaging, Building a StoryBrand is a valuable resource.

It’s an easy read packed with practical guidance and examples you can apply to your own business.

If you want a proven strategy to communicate what makes your products or services unique and build stronger relationships with clients or customers, this book is worth a read.

Key takeaways:

Clarify your messaging

Focus on your customer’s story, not your own. Talk about their key struggles, goals, and desired outcomes. How does your brand help them? What’s their journey?

For example, if you’re a company selling meal kits, your story can be something like:

“As a busy professional, you have little time to cook healthy meals. Our meal kits are designed to save you time while still delivering home-cooked, wholesome dinners the whole family will love.”

Speak in terms of solving problems and achieving results for your customers. What pain points do you address? How do customers’ lives change as a result of your product or service?

For example, if you’re a course creator, you can have a message like:

“Our online course helps students go from struggling with math to mastering key concepts and skills, leading to better grades and higher confidence.”

Avoid vague, generic statements. Be specific and concrete about how you help. What real customer problems do you solve? What tangible outcomes do you enable?

Connect through storytelling

People relate to stories about characters with challenges or obstacles to overcome.

Frame your customer as the central character and show how your brand helps them on their journey. For example:

“Jennifer was overwhelmed trying to balance work and family. Between traffic jams and kids’ activities, she never had time to cook dinner. Our meal kits allowed her to regain quality time with her family over home-cooked meals, bringing her relief and joy.”

Keep your story simple but compelling. There doesn’t need to be complex plot twists—just clearly lay out your customer’s key problem and how your solution leads to a happier outcome or success. For example:

“Mike wanted to advance in his career, but felt held back by weaknesses in data analysis and financial modeling. Our online course guided him step-by-step through learning essential skills, building his confidence, and opening up more opportunities for career growth.”

Stories create emotional resonance and help people remember key messages. The StoryBrand framework gives you a template for crafting a simple but powerful story about your customer and brand.

Keep your message focused

Identify the one core problem you solve or the one outcome you help achieve for customers.

Don’t dilute your message by trying to address too many things at once. Here’s a couple of example messages focusing on one core problem or solution:

“Get dinner on the table with ease”

“Master in-demand skills and advance your career.”

Avoid trying to address too many messages at once.

Avoid jargon and excessive details. Communicate in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way. What’s the key point you want customers to remember about your brand?

Use the StoryBrand framework

Apply the seven-part framework (character, problem, guide, plan, execute, succeed, because of the guide) to structure all your marketing and sales communications. This ensures consistency and impact.

Here’s the StoryBrand framework:

  • Character (customer): “As a busy professional…”
  • Problem: “…you struggle to balance work and family and rarely have time to cook.”
  • Guide (brand): “Our meal kits are the solution…”
  • Plan: “…providing pre-portioned ingredients and easy recipes…”
  • Execute: “…so you can make home-cooked dinners…”
  • Succeed: “…enjoy quality time with loved ones, and relieve stress.”
  • Because of the guide: “…all thanks to our meal kits.”

This framework works for websites, blog posts, email campaigns, presentations, sales calls, and more. It’s a versatile template for telling your brand story.

Consider your customer the hero

Position your customer as the hero of the story and the central focus. Portray your brand as the guide that helps them achieve their goals.

Here are a few examples:

“You’re the hero of dinner time again with your family, thanks to our meal kits.”

“You unlocked your potential and advanced your career, achieving your goals with the help of our online course.”

“You saved the day by delivering a compelling yet professional-looking presentation thanks to our design services.”

“You reached your sales goals and grew your business by connecting with more customers through a revamped marketing campaign, designed by us.”

Keep the spotlight on your customer’s journey and struggles, not on your company or product features. How do you assist your customers? How do they benefit?

Continually refine and reinforce your story

Regularly evaluate how well your brand story is resonating. Look for ways to make it more compelling and easier to understand.

Assess how well your story resonates through customer feedback, reviews, and surveys.

Regularly ask clients open-ended questions to assess how you’re delivering value and uncover areas to improve.

Review client feedback and testimonials to see what’s resonating and not resonating. Look for ways to strengthen your message.

As your customers’ needs and challenges change, you may need to evolve your story.

Pay attention to feedback and be willing to refine or reframe your message to keep connecting with your audience.

Keep tabs on how clients’ challenges and goals are evolving, and adjust your story and services accordingly. 

For example, if clients are requesting more social media marketing help, you may need to expand your offerings and update your story to address this.

Refine your story as needed to address changes in customer challenges or goals. Keep fine-tuning to make your message as compelling and impactful as possible.

How To Apply The Principles For Freelance Designers:

Here are some ways to apply the storybrand framework as a freelance designer:

1. Define your customer. Who do you typically serve? Small businesses? Marketing agencies? Nonprofits? Zero in on your ideal client and their key problems or needs.

2. Frame the struggle. What challenges does your ideal client face? Maybe they need visual designs but lack creative skills or time to do it themselves.

Maybe their marketing lacks professional polish or they need help creating content to reach more customers. Identify the main struggles you can help solve.

3. Position yourself as the guide. Explain how you have the experience and skills to help your clients overcome their challenges. Highlight your past results and success stories. Show how you will guide them to solutions and a better outcome.

4. Explain your process as the “plan.” What does your service process look like? Do you start with an initial consultation, then provide several options, then incorporate client feedback for revisions or edits? Share the key steps you take clients through to arrive at a result.

5. Share outcomes. Explain the ultimate outcomes or benefits of working with you.

For example, “Eye-catching graphics and visuals that grab attention and draw more customers or clients,” or “A strategic and consistent brand identity that reflects your professionalism and energizes your marketing.”

Show how clients’ lives or businesses change for the better thanks to your service.

6. Keep the story focused and simple. Highlight one or two core problems you solve rather than trying to address too many things. Use clear language and specific examples to bring your story to life. Keep it concise but compelling.

7. Apply the story throughout your marketing. Use the StoryBrand framework for your website, proposals, case studies, email newsletters, and more. The more consistent you are with your story, the more it will resonate with your ideal clients.

How can Freelance Designers benefit from this book?

Here are some of the key ways you can benefit from Building a StoryBrand as a freelance designer:

1. Clarify your messaging. The book helps you articulate the one problem you solve for clients and the one outcome you help them achieve. This kind of clarity makes it easier to attract the right clients and avoid confusion in the marketplace.

2. Connect with your clients emotionally. By framing your services as helping clients with their struggles and goals, and by sharing specific success stories, you can forge an emotional connection that leads to more engaged, loyal clients.

3. Structure your marketing and sales. The seven-part storybrand framework gives you a template for crafting blog posts, your website, proposals, and other materials. This helps you communicate consistently and effectively across all your customer touchpoints.

4. Stand out from competitors. Many freelancers and agencies tend to talk about themselves and their experience. But by leading with your clients’ story and journey, you can differentiate in a more compelling way. This can make you more memorable to potential clients.

5. Continually refine your message. The book emphasizes the importance of ongoing listening to your clients and evaluating what’s resonating with them. This allows you to keep evolving your story to best meet their needs and goals. When your message stays sharply focused on solving clients’ key problems, it will keep serving you well.


Building a StoryBrand provides a powerful framework for clarifying your brand message and connecting with your customers or clients.

By putting your clients or customers at the center of the story and focusing on how you help them overcome challenges and achieve goals, you can communicate in a more compelling and impactful way.

This leads to attracting better-fitting clients, strengthening relationships, and growing your business through word-of-mouth and referrals.

If you’re feeling unclear on your brand message or struggling to stand out, grab a copy of this book. It’s an inspiring read with practical tools you can implement right away.

While it takes ongoing work to keep your story on point, the potential rewards are worth the effort.

So start crafting your story and watch your freelance business thrive as a result.

Find out more about the book here.