Product Stories That Capture (and Engage) Our Attention
What differentiates a pair of shoes from any other pair of shoes? For the most part they look the same so what is it? It may be more appropriate to ask what differentiates a story from any other story? That point of contrast comes when the story invites you in to experience it first hand rather than only tell you about a product. A recent partnership between a couple companies from two very different industries had me thinking about this. Nike Sportswear recently partnered with VSCO to promote Nike's new FashionAIR campaign that includes the Nike Air VaporMax running shoe. Nike tapped into VSCO's strong creative community to create the content for the partnership through four fashion photographers, each taking the same pair of shoes and layering in their own story. Where did the crossroads for the two brands come to a head at? In one sentence..."A FashionAIR isn't afraid to break the mold - she is unconventional, intriguing and inventive." The overarching story that the athletic company was telling was one of strength through creative expression that is provided by the VSCO community and that is exactly how they created this campaign.
This is the third time the two companies have come together around a product launch. While the previous two occasions centered around a filter created by VSCO branded with Nike's product name (ACG and Sportswear), this is the first time the campaign left out the filter and concentrated on the creators. As the old saying goes, "When the story is about the listener, they will listen." In this case they put the "unconventional, intriguing and inventive" woman at the center of the story, and in my opinion made a deeper impact, increasing the emotional connection with both products.
In a digital world where it is next-to-impossible to track the ROI from social media efforts, brands are using these channels to drill down on consumer segments even more with hyper-focused campaigns (or stories). And when the story resonates, you better believe the consumer won't just purchase, but purchase again and again (and again). I would have to imagine this is one of the drivers in this partnership between VSCO and Nike, and we're left to guess whether or not it had a deeper impact than the filters.
Take a look at a few other brands creating stories that put their consumers at the center of their product campaigns.
An outdoor clothing and gear company that puts their consumer, a self-proclaimed "dirtbag", at the heart of their marketing. Their main stake is a nod to sustainability and environment so don't expect to see a product, let alone a campaign, email, or tweet, without messaging to you, the dirtbag who enjoys hiking outside with the same coat that you wear to work in an effort to own less. Yvon Chounaird, the Canadian rock climber and black-smith who started out by making his own equipment because the competitors gear wasn't lasting.
You can't get far on the Krochet Kids site without seeing and experiencing the people at the center of their story. They train women in Uganda and Peru to create their products while equipping them with the skills necessary to sustain a career outside of the company or even start their own business. Each product is hand signed by the woman who made it, further cementing their story and bringing the consumer to the center.
This rental developer out of Chicago puts their customer at the center of every touch-point through stories that you'll catch yourself reading for hours. Click through to their website and the first thing you see is a profile of DXTR, a scientist & creator, or Heather, a creative. Pick up their quarterly print publication and read through stories of the small business that rent space from The Flats.