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Creating a StoryBrand BrandScript 101 - Defining the External Problem

Creating a StoryBrand BrandScript 101 – Defining the External Problem

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when developing their BrandScript, is failing to identify the correct “External Problem”. Read on to learn more about External Problem.

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What is a BrandScript?

Before you get to know what is an “External Problem,” in the framework of story, you should know first what is BrandScript.

BrandScript consists of the 7-part StoryBrand framework that evolves around your brand and your customers. It aims to clarify the message that you want to tell your customers.

The 7-part StoryBrand framework consists of the following:

  • Main character
  • Problem
  • Guide
  • Plan
  • Call to action
  • Success
  • Failure

What is external problem?

In the StoryBrand framework, the problem is one of the most important elements as it makes a story engaging. The problem consists of three parts and one of them is the external problem, which refers to a particular issue that your customers face.

The other parts are internal problem and philosophical problem, which will be for another article and discussion .

The external problem describes the surface problem that’s going around the main character, not the type that the character emotionally feels (internal problem). The internal problem is just the effect of the external problem. How the external problem is making them feel.

For example, when the main character feels depressed because of the break up with a significant other, the external problem is the break up and the internal problem is depression.

Many people are confused in defining the external problem correctly. It is important to identify the external problem because it is the root cause of the other parts of your customer’s problem.

Why does it matter? 

If people are visiting your website, but you are talking about a problem that they are not facing, it is unlikely they’ll stick around to read more….

Your Bounce Rate and Conversion rates can be indicators that you are missing the mark.

Sure, your customer may be facing multiple problems, but how do you know you have chosen the right problem?

Here is my favourite process to help you come up with the correct external problem:

  1. Ask yourself (and your team): What is the thing that is stopping our customers from getting what they want?

When I help Brands develop their StoryBrand BrandScript, I usually write this question on the whiteboard and ask the group to come up with as many answers as they can.

  1. Circle the two or three that resonate with you the most.

Choose two or three external problems that you think have the most impact to the customers.

  1. For each of your choices, apply this rule:

… It’s more of a test statement…. if the statement makes sense, chances are you have found your characters external problem…. if the statement doesn’t make sense, then go back to your whiteboard and apply this process.

“At Brand X, we know you want [Insert Character Want] but the problem is [insert External Problem]”

Here is a great example from a popular meal delivery service:

At Hello Fresh, we know you want to Make fast, healthy meals for your family but the problem is you don’t have the time to plan or prepare home-cooked family meals.

You can see in this example that the statement makes sense. What if you apply this test, but your statement doesn’t make sense?

Then either your Character Want or External Problem is not quite correct.

There needs to be a logical relationship between the Character’s Want and the External Problem.

Learn more about the other parts of the Problem and the StoryBrand framework by reading the StoryBrand by Donald Miller. If you have any questions or if you want to know how you can implement the StoryBrand into your business, contact James Hannan, a StoryBrand guide and the founder of Results and Co.

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