Archive for the 'Brand Story' Category

Behind The Sartorialist brand (in a world where a teen fashion blogger gets the pub)

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The Talks has an interesting interview with Scott Schuman, creator of the immensely popular street fashion blog The Sartorialist. The interview covers the business of fashion blogs, and how a street fashion blog like The Sartorialist can succeed amid entrenched fashion magazines. Schuman makes a case for focus and integrity, and controlling the entire site experience using his own photography.

Fashion brands are fragile; fashion brands must be agile

Alas, fashion brands are fragile. Therefore, fashion brands must be agile. A fascinating part of the interview concerns Tavi Gevinson, a teenage fashion blogger (Style Rookie) whose meteoric rise and huge following gets her invited to Fashion Week “with the fashion world at her feet.” Can a teen like her steal the fashion blogging mantle from Schuman? Schuman thinks not. He sees her as just a kid “who can talk about art and stuff only in an abstract way.” In fact, he sees detects a bit of print magazine “conspiracy” behind her amazing success, as if to push serious fashion blogs to the sidelines.

Be sure to read the 60+ comments to the interview. Some readers think Scott’s remarks are right on; others are highly critical. There is a bit of brand flak, too.

For more on Tavi Gevinson’s zero-to-hero success see here and here. At 15 she’s now also editor-in-chief of teen lifestyle site Rookie.

Fashion is the difference of different

I can see why Scott Schuman might be a bit peeved at the sudden fashion media success of teen Tavi G. He has put in years of work to build the leading brand of fashion blogs. As that brand he is the show. Fashion blog = The Sartorialist. For a brand in Scott’s position, anyone who threatens to steal the show threatens you, even if they’re a teenybopper in a different part of the market. The problem is that the “show” is also about culture and context, and it’s often dynamic and changing. Fashion is the difference of different. It’s bringing a different context more than just bringing a different “look.” Cultural innovation pulls the thread. (Go watch Coco Before Chanel to see what I mean.) Truth is, in many respects—and at this point—Tavi can be a bigger difference than The Sartorialist because she’s a better story. She’s a human story in contrast to the largely aesthetic story of a cool street fashion shoot. If The Sartorialist were a brand of street culture—and not just street fashion—our brand story here may well be quite different.


Brands, storytelling and product development

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Writing in UX Magazine Sarah Doody recently discussed Why we need storytellers at the heart of product development. In my comments to Sarah’s insightful post I tried to take a step back (or up?) to frame both product development and storytelling in the context of brand strategy.

Here is what I said (with subheads now added for emphasis):

Product storytelling is a part of brand strategy


Thanks for this very informative post. What you call “product storytelling” is also part of brand strategy, and the function of “product storyteller” is usually performed by a brand strategist, or a brand developer. Just to clarify, the brand mission is to create the customers that drive the business forward. The process of “creating customers” involves leading customers on a brand journey that advances customers to richer realms of living. Customers need new perspectives and new experiences to discover these realms (through the product and the brand), hence the importance of storytelling.

Storytelling is not “spinning tales”

Of course, by “storytelling” we don’t mean “spinning tales.” Storytelling is not promotion. It’s a shared story from a shared journey, co-created between the product and customers. In the best of stories, the company and its customers are on the same page, writing it together.

The brand is an application to create value

People often assume that brands are some kind of window dressing or meta context applied when a product is ready for market. Actually, the most critical brand decisions are made during product development. The brand is an application to create value that should be fully embedded into the product from the get-go. UX is a very big part of this value, of course. A brand developer should be working side-by-side with product developers to ensure that the chosen product strategy is also the best customer strategy.

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[Now back to this blog]

The brand as story enabler

From a brand perspective, the bottom line is that the brand enables customers to create and tell their own stories. The brand isn’t in the business of telling stories as a form of persuasion. It’s a platform for customer stories, where brand experience and brand interactions enable customers to explore and share new contexts of being and doing.



A brand story lets the brand speak for itself

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

As I see it, the most authentic brand stories are those that let the brand speak for itself. Rather than fabricate a brand context from make believe, they tap into the vision, values, character and behavior that make the brand what it is. They’re stories organic to the brand, and can be so at an infinite variety of creative levels.

The goal of the brand story

The goal of the brand story is to reveal the identity, character and qualities of the brand, so the brand can stand forth on its own terms, and in its own terms, in a (radical) context that frees customers from the numbing constraints of convention. The brand story unfolds the essence of the brand, layer by layer, nuance by nuance, detail by detail, through the people, products, materials, processes, ideas, passions, aspirations, actions and interactions that make the brand what it is. In short, the brand story is a revelation of what makes the brand tick. This can be on one or a dozen levels.

Tartine bread

A brand story doesn’t have to follow a conventional narrative format. Sometimes it’s simply a profound insight into the brand, a glimpse or slice so deep that it sends tsunamis outward. The video below is such a brand story. It’s subject is San Francisco’s famed Tartine bread, crafted by baker Chad Robertson. Robertson has won a prestigious James Beard award and is considered to be among the best bread makers in the United States.

Note that this is not a “story” about the brand. It is the brand speaking. The best brand stories are told by the brand. In a uniquely creative way they voice the brand.

A brand story evokes and exemplifies the brand

I think this particular brand story does an excellent job of letting the brand speak for itself, at its own pace, in its own words, and in its own special context. It was produced to support a new book on home bread making from Tartine and Chronicle books, but what shines through most are the essential qualities that make Tartine “Tartine.” In this regard, the story both evokes and exemplifies the brand.


The brand as product ingredient and catalyst

Lastly, in its low-key and relaxed way, this brand story shows how the brand itself is an essential product ingredient and catalyst. The brand is everywhere—as it should be.

Tartine Bread video credit: 4SP Films

Whip out your phone and record a brand story

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

The new Apple iPhone 4 has some stellar HD video capabilities, and the following clip showcases what they can do in professional hands. It’s a pretty amazing feat for a smartphone, especially since the video was edited on the iPhone itself. (See the extra “behind the scenes” feature for details.)

Record a brand story anywhere your phone goes

How might this technology affect your brand? Well, anything worth sharing about your brand can now be told visually—and creatively—anywhere your phone goes, with decent production values. Just whip out your iPhone 4—or fairly soon, no doubt, any of its direct competitors—and assemble your brand story. But don’t delay. Your customers (and competitors) will be sharing brand stories, too.

SOURCE: “Apple of My Eye” – an iPhone 4 film – UPDATE: Behind the scenes footage included from Michael Koerbel on Vimeo.