2 Main Takeaways from Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand

A little boy sitting in a chair talking through a megaphone.
Amanda Meadows July 23, 2019

2 Main Takeaways from Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand

If you’ve been around the Red Razor social media accounts lately, you’ll notice that we’ve been sharing a lot of tips and insights from Donald Miller’s bestselling book Building a StoryBrand.

We as a team have been reading the book together chapter-by-chapter so that we can refine our own marketing and help you refine yours.

On one of our recent Instagram posts, a fellow StoryBrander asked what our biggest takeaway was so far. We gave him two answers, which I’ll share with you here.

Takeaway #1: Don’t worry about being clever–be clear instead.

“If you confuse, you’ll lose.”

It’s amazing how often this simple statement comes to mind when I’m looking at a website or writing content for our clients.

Sometimes, in an effort to sound like an authority in our field, we clutter our websites with murky content. We use a lot of jargon, technical terms, or fancy vocabulary that gets in the way of clarity.

In an effort to sound smart or clever, we can actually alienate the people we want to do business with.

The “grunt test”

Donald Miller talks about the “grunt test.” Could a caveman view your homepage for 5 seconds and “grunt” exactly what your company offers?

He suggests having a friend or an acquaintance who isn’t familiar with your industry to look at your home page. If after 5 seconds they can’t tell you exactly what your company does, your messaging is too confusing.

Your tagline

A lot of confusion happens in a company’s tagline. You have a short space to communicate your company’s value. But if your tagline is too vague, wordy, or complicated, it’s not going to connect with the people you want to do business with.

Takeaway #2: Position your customer as the hero, your brand as the guide.

Every person views life from his or her own perspective. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

So if you want to reach customers where they are, you have to talk to them from their perspective. Make your customer the hero of your marketing story.

Here’s a simple way to change the story’s perspective:

  • Print out your website pages.
  • Circle every we, us, our, etc.–all the language that talks about yourself.
  • Revise your content so that you’re using you and your instead.

Yes, even your About Us page is about the customer

One of the biggest culprits of business-as-hero content is the About Us page. Most of the time, companies will give a history of the company with lots of personal details.

And though it’s good to show your prospects that you’re a human just like them, they really don’t care that your wife’s name is Sue and you have 3 dogs named Moe, Larry, and Curly.

What they really care about is that your company can solve the very problem your customer is facing. That’s often why they’re on your website in the first place.

By the way, Google is a great example of putting the customer first.


Even these 2 takeaways barely scratch the surface of the insights you can find in Building a StoryBrand. But hopefully, this quick look will motivate you to get your own copy (which you can do here and here).

“Buyers stop listening to us when we stop helping them and we start helping ourselves.” (Liz Murphy, IMPACT)