Brand stories and product stories
We tend to think of storytelling as a concept that primarily resolves around the brand. We build stories around brands, around the brand missions that we have, around consumers that those brands are tailored for. But what we forget is that our products, innovations, sku’s and upgrades also (possibly) have stories behind them or stories that resolve around them.
This is a short look at how we can produce stories by keeping the product in the central place.
Products are just objects, but there is no denying the significance that we attach or find in those objects. The significant objects project has surely proven how much a narrative attached to the object can increase the perceived value that it holds and desirability that it has.
Here are 4 examples of product storytelling that showcase diverse ways in which an engaging narrative can be weaved around a product at the same time elevating the product to a whole new level.
1. LIFE-JACKET STORY
The story starts-off with you falling into the ocean from your own yacht. Your task is to scroll the mouse wheel to keep yourself afloat. And damn, that’s a complicated task. I would say this is the best shortest horror category type of scare I’ve ever seen – it gets really close to what you would say drowning feels like.
The brand has definitely managed to create immersive and visceral experience. One of the ways in which it has achieved this is through first-person video. The second bit is telling the story in actual time and making the viewers experience every agonizing second to the full. The experience really sticks with you for a while.
The brilliant thing about the product is the very absence of it makes the whole story happen – by not being in the video, it’s stays at the very core of everything that’s happening. A lesson learned the hard way.
2. BARBEQUE CULTURE
Barbecue stove is not exactly a super exciting category, but it starts with an exciting premise – “at a given time, somewhere in the world, someone is barbecuing”. And the story lives up to it – the interactive platform takes us through different locations and settings tossing bits and pieces of interesting information along the way.
The platform emphasizes choice – you can decide to explore the product itself, the ways of preparing meat or fish or even have a broader look at the barbecuing culture itself. At any point you are in control of the content you want to invest yourself into.
3. HARRY’S RAZOR CLIMB
Usually we think of collaboration in a traditional way – but it can come in different varieties and shapes. That’s what happened with Harry’s who co-created special edition razors with a climber and photographer and then took them (both the razor and the climber) on a mountain climbing trip.
And even though everything is really simple with the product landing page, the trick with this product presentation lies within the page navigation – the page is structured as a climb itself, starting at the bottom and ending at the top of the page. And here you get to meet the people behind the product.
4. CLOTHES REBELLION
The interactive ONLY brand platform plays out like a video to a music soundtrack. The video puts the control in the users hands at some well-placed narrative turns and even though the interaction is just a mouse drag or a click it raises the stakes and helps create the tension (especially when the town mob is chasing you and you have to start the car’s engine).
Where are the products some might ask? Well, they’re hiding behind every screen and you are always just a click away from them.
5. BUILDING AN APARTMENT
The project hails itself as the first apartment that pinterest build, but it is extraordinary in the way it evolved real-time with people selecting furniture and interior elements that were then realized in a project’s apartment in just 5 days. Co-creation done in this way makes so much sense.
The other aspect is how cool and interesting it still looks after the whole affair has ended.
All of the previous examples have a different angles on representing the products and there are a couple of lessons to be drawn from this:
DRAMATIZE THE ABSENCE OF THE PRODUCT – the usual way is to show how everything works fine with the product, but omitting it from the story might produce interesting results as well (Sortie En Mer)
TAKE THE PRODUCT ON A JOURNEY (Harry’s and Weber) – the journey could be both literal (like climbing or visiting different places in the world) or figurative (as meeting the makers behind the product)
GIVE CONTROL OVER WHAT AND WHEN – give the user the ability to chose when he wants to find out about the product within the narrative (ONLY brand) or what does he want to know (Weber BBQ products)
CO-CREATE IN REAL-TIME – co-creation is the old game, but doing it real time and building it around your product is something only a few brands are and will be able to pull off (CB2 furniture)