In recent years, the barriers to entry in ecommerce have dropped significantly. As a result, if you're an ecommerce brand, it's become increasingly hard to differentiate from other companies and achieve great profits.
One very effective way of distinguishing your brand from others is by great storytelling.
A good story can turn a lifeless brand into one that has meaning; a company whose image and values resonate with its target market.
This is not an easy thing to achieve, but some of the fastest-growing and most successful ecommerce stores of the last five years have used this strategy to their advantage.
Here are a few ecommerce storytelling examples from brands that are nailing it. At the end of this post I will deconstruct the examples below to analyse what the key components of great storytelling are so you can attempt to replicate it yourself.
- They sell an experience. Backcountry.com began in 1996 , and aims to "provide the best outdoor gear - and to be the best at doing it".
Their story is all about going out and doing cool stuff. Being adventurous. The gear they sell is just related to the experience they are selling. That's key. People connect with an experience or lifestyle much closer thanjust a product.
- Big focus on sharing their values. These values resonate with their target market and reinforce their brand image.
- They rally you behind a good cause. The company has re-employed skilled people who had lost their jobs when the denim factories closed. By supporting Hiut you are indirectly supporting all these individuals, which makes each purchase that much better.
- Their focus on one thing. We are made to believe that these guys are specialists. They are different and better than other jean manufacturers because they spend all their time improving one type of product than trying to be good at many different ones.
"As one of the Grand Masters said to me when I was interviewing: "This is what I know how to do. That is what I do best."
- In-depth overview of the manufacturing process. The visitor is taken through the journey each unique product goes through. You can see how much time and effort has gone into the quality manufacturing process, and you're also able to see just how much it means to the founders to make a great product. This makes you feel a lot more comfortable about potentially buying a DODOcase.
- Solving a problem - The founders experienced a problem themselves and, upon realising this was also a issue for other people, they set out to go and solve it. Because it solves a real-world problem that many people face, the Harry's brand story is immediately easy to connect with for their target audience.
- Offer a no-brainer. Everlane demonstrates how it provides higher value to a customer for a lower price. You can't go wrong.
- Humble beginnings. It's easy to appreciate and connect with a founder that started their business out of passion and built it into an empire.
- Become the face of the brand. While many founders stay away from the limelight, Nasty Gal's founder Sophie Amoruso is now an icon in herself, and someone her target audience aspires to be. She's the perfect face of the brand and many people now buy her clothes to be 'like' her.
- Socially conscious - Another example of how a brand can gain a level of respect and credibility by thinking of others and not just themselves. What's great is that Warby Parker really do make a huge difference as well by giving away millions of pairs of glasses to people in need.
- The materials Alexnani uses are sustainable and derived from eco-conscious processes. A clear value proposition which aligns closely with the values of the company's target market.
- Founder has a personal brand - Her passion and dedication to creating incredible products warms you to the brand.
- Introducing brand story. Highlighting origins of brand brings the brand alive and into the hearts and minds of consumers. Human stories stir emotional connections: the holy grail of brand loyalty.
- Born in Brooklyn. Leveraging Brooklyn's cool image so that it reflects well on the brand.
- Extremely clear problem/solution - They found a common problem - that the chinos they bought just didn't fit - and they made it their mission to fix this.
- Great design - Thoughtful design can really give brands an edge, and Bonobos clearly puts a great deal of thought into every element of its website and marketing efforts.
Telling a story that your prospects really buy into is undoubtedly a difficult task. Get it wrong and it can damage your brand and create disconnect with your customers. Get it right, however, and it is undoubtedly an incredibly powerful means of building your brand and winning over new people. Here is a list of things to think about if you're creating a company story:
- Focus on a key proposition - answer 'why us over them?'.
- Language and copy - is what you say emotive? Does it sound authentic? Is it in line with the rest of the brand?
- Values - does your story get across what you stand for?
- Authenticity - we have to believe that the founders are experts.
- Great design - aim to delight people.
- Humble beginnings - instilling a sense of 'hey, I'm just like you!' can make your brand seem a lot more personable
- Built out of passion - people will only get excited about your products if you're excited about them too
- Solving a problem - solving a common problem creates a great storyline - use it to your advantage.
- Detail the manufacturing process - show people how the products they're buying are made.
- Founder is brand ambassador - bring out the personality of the company founder(s).