This is part 3 of how to harness the power of narrative to clarify your marketing messages and sell anything with Story Brand. Find part 1 here.

After positioning yourself as the guide, presenting the hero with a plan and calling them to action, there are two more components that you want to include in your marketing material: failure and success.

6. Avoiding failure

Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending. So in the sixth step of the Storybrand method, you need to identify the tragedy that you want to help your customer avoid. In other words, you want to point out the consequence of not doing business with you. What's at stake?

One single question determines whether a story lives or dies and that is this question: what's at stake? - Donald Miller

Think of your favorite story and ask yourself the question: what was at stake? What would happen if the hero failed?

In a good story, the failure of the hero is never a matter of "oh well, you tried your best. Better next time".

No, in a good story, the stakes are very high. If the hero failed, the republic would be crushed, the entire galaxy would succumb to tyranny, the love of the hero's life would die or his one and only chance of ever achieving greatness would be lost. Those are stakes that make a story interesting!

People are motivated by loss aversion.

So think about it. What does your customer stand to lose? What negative scenario would your customer like to avoid, and how will they avoid it by doing business with you? You need to awaken that fear just a little bit.

Be careful though, because using fear is like salting your food: adding just a little bit brings out the flavor, but too much makes it disgusting.

For selling the power rack, this could be good failure scenario:

Where will you be a year from now? Will you be tired and out of shape because you're still waiting for things to slow down at work? Or will you be in great shape and have lots of energy, because you decided to take action today?

7. Achieve success

That last sentence of my example text brings us to the final part of the Storybrand technique: describing what success looks like.

People want to be taken somewhere – preferably to the land of milk and honey. So you need to paint a picture of what success looks like.

This par is the closure of the story loop you created in the beginning. There are three dominant ways storytellers end a story:

  1. The hero wins some sort of power or position (status).
  2. The hero is unified with somebody or something that makes them whole.
  3. The hero experiences some kind of self-realization, satisfying the need to reach his potential.

You should never assume that people understand how your brand can change their lives. You need to tell them.

A great model to find out how your brand changes your customer's life is to fill out a simple grid, created by Ryan Deiss:

For the power rack, the buyer will end up having a fit body, they are feeling proud and accomplished, an average day includes a satisfying and energizing gym session and their status is somebody who takes care of themselves despite being very busy.


This concludes the 7 basic steps of the Storybrand technique. It's an absolutely brilliant framework to craft compelling marketing messages, in my opinion.

I thoroughly recommend reading the whole book: Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller, available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.