How can a brand go from a self-made online auction store to one of the fastest growing retailers in less than a decade? Is a moving picture worth more than a thousand words?
The two magical words – brand and storytelling – seem to be inseparable today in 2015. Marketers’ radars are all directed at finding more innovative ways to let their brands speak, tell their unique stories, and utilize innovative technology to achieve that. Combined with social media, the brand’s story lets you tap into consumers’ emotions and create a direct link, which ideally leads to brand awareness . Today we take a look at four popular fashion brands that use immersive digital storytelling and promote not only shopping, but also lifestyle experiences.
When a fashion brand is not even 10 years old but is already a multimillion dollar business, you know it does something right. And that might just be almost everything – from selling clothing directly to consumers at high gross margins (without fixed retail costs) to communicating with its customers and telling its brand story every chance it gets. Nasty Gal was founded in 2006 by then 22-year-old Sophia Amoruso, who initially started the company on eBay. She began selling vintage clothes and engaging in the entire process of sourcing, styling, photographing and shipping herself. After being kicked off of eBay in 2008 she launched Nasty Gal and in 2011 the brand revenues were already reaching $23 million. By 2012 Nasty Gal was ranked among the fastest growing companies.
Today the fashion brand sells new and vintage clothing online (first stores are opening this year), shoes and accessories and has become an international style source for girls and women around the world. Nasty Gal’s main target audience is young women– the generation who is also extremely active online. The main value of the business is the story behind a clothing piece: each item is described in detail (focusing on adjectives), photographed with precision and also offers a pairing suggestion. The brand is highly devoted to social media engagement, strongly connecting with its audience, and customer care, emphasizing a strong relationship. Nasty Gal is tech savvy and perfectly understands how to leverage the Internet and get the most out of it without using ads and marketing stunts.
Apart from shopping options on the website it also offers a blog which celebrates excellent content. The brand has re-defined fashion retail by mastering not only social media but also online content. Nasty Gal’s face Amoruso is an inspiring icon to young women not for her crazy-good looks but for her entrepreneurial ideas. In 2014 she published a book #GIRLBOSS about her business journey, which is celebrated on the Nasty Gal’s website. The brand also maintains a micro-site, where other girl bosses in the industry and their success stories are introduced. The brand’s main story – that of Amoruso – embraces the company’s values and characteristics that its customers want to associate themselves with. Nasty Gal’s story is all about girl empowerment, and that undeniably makes a much-needed statement in today’s culture.
It is not difficult to distinguish the LV monogram usually seen on a brown leather bag as the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton. Founded in 1854, the world’s leading international fashion house sells clothing, shoes, accessories and books through boutiques, department stores and its e-commerce website.
When renowned brands launch blogs or any other content-filled websites, the brands’ affiliation is usually at the center of attention. However, when Louis Vuitton’s LVMH conglomerate launched an interactive lifestyle website NOWNESS in 2010 only a few people realized that it came from the luxury fashion house. After having somewhat negative experience with external websites to communicate brand values, Louis Vuitton was smarter next time around. NOWNESS celebrates original content and showcases it via stylized short films and excellent photography. By choosing not to brand the website, LVMH manages to focus on storytelling by directing the attention to famous faces, and executes its storytelling goal. Furthermore, it is the attention and detail to content and not clothing that NOWNESS embraces, publishing original content every day.
Louis Vuitton is also no stranger to visual storytelling in advertising. Actually, the brand has built a legacy on great advertisements, focusing on travel, adventure and comfort, and creating identifiable elements with positioning famous faces to the core of the message. Angelina Jolie might be a logical choice for the luxury goods. However, the ad picturing Gorbachev travelling in a car in what looks like Berlin and its famous wall in the background transcends a story that is strongly embedded in our memories and cultural heritage. The messaging of these values is the true value of Louis Vuitton’s storytelling. Moreover, Louis Vuitton with its 4.3 million followers is one of the kings of Twitter.
Let’s admit it – no one likes banners, no matter what they advertise. But what if a banner was a video with clickable and shoppable content of a popular fashion brand? Kate Spade New York took content and made it into retail with its holiday shoppable ad video, the first ever made with Google Lightbox and HTML5. Appearing beyond the brand’s own website, the video ad managed to effectively communicate the brand’s values (crisp color, graphic prints and playful sophistication) by combining innovative technology with witty storytelling.
For the past couple of years the brand has been focused on sharing digital stories, and doing so using all social media channels. Apart from the most popular platforms for fashion brands such as Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, Kate Spade executes Tumblr with colorful visualizations and short stories, which is exactly what the nowadays woman on the run needs. The brand website also offers “Behind the Curtain” – a blog on everything from office style to city guides. On YouTube the brand is currently engaged in its #missadventure campaign starring up-and-coming Hollywood actress Anna Kendrick. Anna stars as herself, just goofier, and the plot centers around her being locked out of her apartment and procrastinating as she find a way to get in. She drinks champagne, models her new Kate Spade clothes for her dog and sings holiday songs. The video is also available as an interactive and shoppable version, where users can click on items and view those automatically on katespade.com. Anna’s dog Milos also gets significant attention, and stars in his own short video in the second episode of the ad campaign.
Short preview videos of Anna addressing the viewers directly also appeared online, some resembling user-made videos, which usually resonate with a bigger audience of people. Kate Spade embraces the power of storytelling to its highest potential. The brand’s persistence to utilize all social networking platforms fully also positions it among top 10 fastest growing fashion brands in the world.
High-end shoe brand Stuart Weitzman’s has always focused on merging fashion with function. The brand’s newest ad campaign tackles digital storytelling by incorporating wise marketing tactics and new technology on social media. The brand used cutting-edge cinemagraphs for its digital advertising campaign on Instagram. The cinemagraphs, pioneered by two artists of the Ann Street Studio, use photography and video to create what looks and feels like a “living” picture. The static image presents moving elements, and thus creates a strong illusion to reality, presenting the viewers with an immersive experience. For example, in one of the cinemagraphs a model is seen comfortably sitting on a chair, her eyes blink seductively, the fringes on her stiletto shoes move as if blown by a gush of wind. The TV screen on the floor blurs in and out a picture of Weitzman himself.
The campaign was directly linked to Facebook, targeting customers with sequential messaging –intelligent retargeting, choosing which ads will be when presented to a given person in real-time – and thus greatly influencing buyers’ decisions. The campaign ran for two weeks only, targeting women aged 22 to 40, bringing in a new perspective in how to utilize the power of social media and storytelling for reach opportunities: those who saw the campaign ads on Instagram were redirected to Facebook and presented with a different but related advertisement there. The brand not only successfully utilized the technical capabilities of online social platforms, but also possibly set a new standard in engaging and innovative digital storytelling.