Build Stories, Not Brands

Over the last view years our economy has changed a lot and there is no sign that it will stop any time soon. A majority of companies are working hard to catch up. Other are simply missing the boat. The youth that grew up with computers are now informed young adults, and as the saying goes, “the old ain’t getting any younger”. They are stuck in their old ways of thinking and so are many of their businesses.

In 2014, I still found a majority of marketing efforts, both online and off to be filled with meaningless marketing jargon. Words that companies both large and small cannot live by. Words, that if you looked close enough, where not authentic or true. Words likely taken from their top five competitors. No story. No authentic experiences. No passion. There’s an entire sea of companies drowning in the belief that work and passion are just words. They don’t understand that it’s the key to transforming costumers that just use your products into costumers who love your products.

Consumers and “followers” are smarter then ever. We turn to Facebook groups for recommendations or launch Foursquare to read what other’s are saying about the food from the new corner restaurant. We know how to find the answer before we buy your product. We don’t give a sh!t if you’re “the largest so-and-so in the world.” (You’re probably not anyways). Instead, open up to us. Help us be a part of your story. Build influence through others.

Being a part of a story

Take a look at Harry’s. On the outside, it’s just another startup shaving company. According to a recent article over at The Deal, Harry’s is slowly becoming as populair as a big companies like Gillette or Wilkinson. Because of this new competition, Gillette is trying to copy Harry’s subscription service. But Gillette simply is missing the point.

Harry’s subscription model is only a small part of Harry’s success. Competing on prices is “old business”. Buyers no longer want the best price necessarily. They want to be apart of experiences that they can share and be proud of. It’s their story and experience with the company that captures peoples attention and kept customers coming back. The art direction of their website is honest with a beautiful open layout, typography, and photography. It compliments a compelling and humanised story that’s sprinkled with cute jokes and one-liners. Their Instagram feed is creative and begs to be engaged with – not just ads of their razors or shaving gel. They give back. They allow their customers the chance to be a part of something greater than a close shave. Great content is great design.

More Than Another Shirt

Three years ago Everlane entered a market that already had plenty of competitors selling “the basics”. The difference and success was in their transparency. With an emphasis on “High Quality, Low Markups”, the online-only retailer immediately hits you with their story of how they keep costs low, yet quality desirable within the first few seconds on their site. They go a step further and document the pricing for each product they sell by cost of materials, labor, duties, and transportation. The small, specialised factories they use are even noted, all of this creates the desire for consumers to feel a part of the entire experience and story.

Intimate, Authentic Relationships

Building relationships with customers has been a practice used by most companies for a long time. Much like the example above where being a part of a greater story matters to consumers, being apart of someone else’s experience is equally as influential.

Take fashion retailer Fossil as an example. They’ve partnered with men’s fashion and lifestyle blogger, Justin Livingston (aka. Scout Sixteen) to showcase their latest in menswear. Sure, they could have had an A-list celebrity do the same, but bloggers feel more “real” to you and me. They bring a sense of authenticity to a community, it engages costumers on a more personal level which a world famous celebrity couldn’t do.

Moving Forward

In 2016, let’s focus on uncovering unique stories, designing experiences based off those stories, and offering up something more than just your products and services.

Written by Remon de Vries
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