how to tell a story with your product

by | Feb 19, 2021

humans love stories — from cave drawings to Shakespeare’s plays. we’ve been telling them for thousands of years. today we have books + movies + podcasts + blogs + the good ol’ netflix binge.

but stories aren’t limited to the things we read and watch. anything can be a story as long as it has a character + a setting + a narrative (beginning / middle / end).

take your morning routine. you are the main character. the setting is your bathroom. and it has a narrative (beginning / middle / end) doesn’t it? you brush your teeth. you put on makeup. and then—I hope—you give yourself a high five in the mirror for the day ahead.

your customers live through hundreds of little stories every day. when your brand uses content to tell a story about your product your customer can imagine themselves inside that story.

every story is unique. but there are a few elements you’re guaranteed to find in any book / movie / tv show. here’s how you can work these 3 essential story elements—character + setting + narrative—into your content:

character

no matter how many books you read on your Kindle — you’ll never find the same character twice. there’s a reason for that: the greater the variety of characters you write into your story — the more people will be able to relate to it. the same principle applies to your brand’s content. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: people make for the most compelling product pics.

but let’s take it a step further. say your brand uses a woman in her mid-thirties to show off your brand’s statement earrings. don’t stick to a single formula. mix it up. use a man. use someone older—or someone younger. use a non-binary individual. shake it up with different body types and different skin colors.

there’s no downside to diversity. when you include a wide variety of people in your content you show that anyone can use your product. your models should reflect the world we see around us.

setting

this one might seem obvious. but too few companies take full advantage of it. show your product in context. when your content shows your product in action your customer can imagine your product in their life. a lemon-squeezer? show it in a kitchen drawer—or show someone squeezing. a face cream? show it in the bathroom. 

I know what you’re thinking: this only applies to products meant for use at home. wrong! your brand makes mugs? snap a picture of your model using one in a cozy café. waterproof phone cases? you guessed it—throw it in the pool. maybe cover it in bubbles. go wild.

narrative

every story needs this combo: beginning / middle / end. this is especially relevant when you’re creating content for a product (or set of products) that requires multiple steps. 

let’s say you’re a skincare brand with three products meant to be used at three different times of day. using a series of photos—or a video—can help tell those three stories. it’ll let the customer know how + where + when your products should be used. what order they should be used in. who should use them. even what they might feel like to use. 

here’s the bottom line (literally). little stories—with characters, setting, and narrative—happen every day in our customers’ lives. our branded content should reflect those elements back to us. leverage the stories of your customers’ daily lives and you’ll find success before you know it.

soona