If you produce a product of some kind, it’s safe to say it produces a story in its own right. How big of a role it plays in your overall brand story depends on you and your business, but your product story may unlock an important door that brings you and your customer closer together.
Why? Because inviting your customer to enter your product’s inner workings offers the type of transparency the business world has lacked for so many years. People care about what they eat, what goes into the products they use, and h0w these items literally come to life – where are they made? is it made by hand or machine? where is my money actually going?
Your product story answers these questions that consume your customer, even if they’re questions they didn’t think to ask. In a world where storytelling and narratives play an ever important role, showing and sharing your product journey matters.
There are many approaches you can take, and depending on what your product is, it may be a simple or rather complex story to share. But don’t for a second think your product story doesn’t matter, and that its journey is boring. Trust me, it isn’t. You simply have to find the most effective way that connects you with your audience, and I’d like to share a wonderful and simple example with you today: from a company that prints business cards pf all things
Awesome Merchandise aren’t special (a print company that produces everyday products folk like you and me use each day), but the way they approach their product story… well, it’s rather awesome!
WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM THIS AWESOME PRODUCT STORY
I first came across Awesome Merchandise a few years ago, when a friend of mine suggested I interview their owner (Luke Hodson) for The Successful Mistake. The moment I stepped through their factory door, I knew this was the type of company I’d buy from, follow, and love for years to come.
Quirky, different, vibrant, exciting, outliers, colourful… a few words you could use to describe Awesome Merchandise and their team of creative misfits.
Unfortunately at the time, they had a rather lifeless website, and although I knew they had a worthy story to share, they didn’t do it justice. All this changed not so long ago, as they launched a new website to the world and began to show what makes them so… well… awesome…
But it isn’t the entire website I’d like to focus on today, rather a particular video (which is ridiculously simple) that shares their product story in a way few others do. It’s marvellous, and I’d like to share why I think it’s so – and most important of all, what you can learn from a product story video like this, and the guys and gals at Awesome Merchandise.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOUND
I don’t know about you, but as soon as the video starts I knew this would be unlike most videos I watch. Beginning with background chatter and the twisting of a key in the lock, it captured my attention and forced me to take note.
As a print company, Awesome Merchandise could show us a great deal, a lot of which would be colourful and exciting. After all, they design posters and t-shirts and an array of business cards, so it isn’t as though they’d share a boring or bland product. However, items like posters and t-shirts and business cards are the end game, so it doesn’t say much about the actual journey or story.
The story surrounds the machinery and people behind these products, and the processes they go through. This in itself isn’t rare, because a lot of brands show their staff working behind the scenes and sharing the actual product journey.
But it’s easy to forget the importance of sound, a sense – like sight and touch and smell – that allows us to make sense of the world. In video, I’d argue sound plays an equally important role as the actual visuals, and you need look no further than movies like Jaws that wouldn’t be nearly as scary if your turned down the music.
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Where most brands focus their sound on music and voiceovers (explaining the process), Awesome Merchandise let the sounds that surround them lead the way.
The rattles of machines, chatter of co-workers, sticking of tape, and tearing of card tell you a great about what Awesome Merchandise do. Combined with the images of these machines and co-workers, you develop a real sense as to what makes this company different to most.
The sound you share in your product story matters, and although I’m not saying you shouldn’t use music or voiceovers, you shouldn’t forget that your product and its journey makes its own noise along the way.
Awesome Merchandise don’t say a damn thing throughout this video, and in doing so, tells us a great about who they are. But it isn’t just the telling that’s important, which leads us to our next point.
SHOW DON’T TELL
As a writer, one of the first rules drummed into me was to SHOW instead of tell. Telling your audience what happens is fine, but showing them takes it to the next level. Storytelling is all about immersing the other person into your tale, and the moment you choose to show this is the moment you win the battle.
Awesome Merchandise tells us a great deal through their approach to sound, but this alone wouldn’t do the trick. Combined with how they show us, though… this is where the magic happens.
The thing is, they don’t ram it down your throat. They don’t show the end product and how amazing it looks and how it can help you, rather show you the actual product story. This is what it’s all about, and the way they cut from one shot to the other and keep things fast and moving, guides you through these 100 seconds in a flash.
They don’t have to explain anything because they show you what happens. They leave it to you to piece together the puzzle.
You get to see their machines in motion. You get to see their hands at work. You get to see their staff playing, laughing, interacting… and you get to see a snippet of products come to life.
Awesome Merchandise have a lot of products they can sell to you, so focussing on a single product story from beginning to end… what would this achieve?
This video isn’t about a single product story, rather the collective product story. They do this by telling you a great deal through sound, and showing you a glimpse into everything else. Best of all, they keep things simple.
YOU DON’T NEED TO OVERWHELM YOUR CUSTOMER
It’s easy to overthink and cram too much information on to a page, into a video, among the paper in your brochure. Depending on your product, you may need to share more info than most, but your aim should always be to provide as little as you can.
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm anyone.
Awesome Merchandise produce the kind of products most people are familiar with. They don’t need to create some complicated narrative about business cards or t-shirts. You’re familiar with them already, so the point in sharing their product story isn’t to educate or inform, so much as fulfil intrigue and spark curiosity.
As such, they’re able to share a simple video that goes a long way in showcasing who they are, what they do, and how they do it. It may seem crazy for some that they have a video like this, which doesn’t offer an interview with their owner or a step-by-step breakdown of their process.
This video is all they share, too (no further text, images, or other features on the page), which begs the question… Why not more? Why not offer images or a few paragraphs of text? Why not have two videos, or maybe even three?
Because they don’t have to. They produce as much information as they need, and don’t overwhelm you with anything else. This, by the way, is a difficult skill to master; the conscious decision to stop when you could add a smidgen here and a sprinkle there.
Most brands go a little too far. They worry about sharing too little, so bombard you with too much. Not the dudes and dudettes at Awesome Merchandise. These cats keep things simple and awesome.
A PRODUCT STORY WORTH SHARING
Your product story should look different to Awesome Merchandise’s. You may not need a video. Maybe you should focus on a timeline or text or images. Maybe yours requires more detail. This is fine because the whole point of your product story is to bring you closer to your customer and invite them into your journey.
In my opinion, Awesome Merchandise knocked this out of their park. It’s different and quirky and colourful, which not only defines them well, but speaks to their type of customer, too.
But what sets it apart is their approach to sound, showing, and minimalistic simplicity. I believe you can take a look of inspiration from these three things, and they’ll help keep your product story on point, relevant, and full of meaning and impact. But what do you think? I’d love to know your thoughts, and if you have any questions be sure to reach out to me on either FACEBOOK or TWITTER. That’s where the conversations take place, and the inceptions of future product story epicness.
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