Storytelling: how to enhance and capitalize on the know-how of your brand?
2 Jul, 2019
What is the common point between a precious fabric, a haute couture dress and a saxophone of more than 1000 manufactured pieces? A unique know-how that has been inherited for decades.
Know-how is the sure value. The one you can lean on, with your eyes closed, without any unpleasant surprises. When you buy an instrument from Henri Selmer Paris, you know you won’t be wrong. The brand is to wind instruments what Stradivarius to violins is to violins: the absolute reference. It is the favorite brand of purists. John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Sidney Bechet swore by this exceptional instrument designed in France, in the Mantes-la-Jolie factory. The perfect example of French excellence.
To create just one of these sound jewels, 6 months of manufacturing in the factory are necessary and nearly 30 hours of work. To achieve this result, Selmer has no less than 140 professions, ranging from boiler making to engraving and acoustic testing. Far from resting on laurels of more than a century, the brand renews itself every year by offering new products, developed on the advice of the best musicians. From conception to marketing, it takes between 3 and 5 years for them to be born.
Fascinating, isn’t it? And stories like this one, the big houses are full of them. It would be a shame to miss it. Especially considering that the French associate luxury in the first place with quality products (86% of them).
It is still necessary to demonstrate this. And still very often, brands, even the most highly skilled, struggle to highlight the artisanal dimension of their creative process and to capitalize on their know-how.
Some ways to enhance these intrinsic treasures:
To get away from the showroom approach
First reflex: close the doors of the showroom to open the doors of the whole house. Much more than just the finished product, it is the whole house and its virtuosity that must be highlighted. This approach, which emphasizes know-how, has the advantage of being perceived as more authentic by the consumer, less marketing. This is a point that particularly appeals to new generations.
The British brand Colefax and Fowler, created in the 1930s, a specialist in high-end upholstery and wallpaper, gives pride of place to finished products on its social networks. We find the new printed matter, images of scenarios, the sharing of magazine articles evoking the brand… But we never see a face, a hand or the shadow of a product being created. No more than a spool of yarn or a sketch. As if the colossal creative work that brings these finished products to life had not existed. It means depriving yourself of a large part of storytelling with high added value.
The finished product is the concretization of the brand’s know-how, but the know-how is not limited to the finished product.
The Danish brand Kvadrat, born in 1968 and leader in upholstery fabrics, is taking a completely different approach. On its website as well as on its social ecosystem, it gives a voice to its designers, shows the creation and design of its products. There are videos of looms running at full speed, or collaborators expressing themselves on the design of the future collection but also photos of inspirational elements, colour samples… The brand gives the feeling of being alive and creative, and is completely detached from the cold and disembodied feeling that the showroom approach of many of its competitors can cause.
Kvadrat, the leader in its sector, offers content that highlights the entire process of creating its products.
The young Misia Paris, the French brand of the Casamance group born in 2014, masters these codes very well. Proof of this is that it is not necessary to have ancestral know-how to be proud of it.
Dive into the archives
If the brand’s history allows it, there is nothing better than an exploration of the archives to find storytelling nuggets. Whether it is old sketches, first patents, black and white video clips, period logbooks… Everything is told and contributes to the construction of an effective storytelling around the history and know-how of the brand, two notions closely linked and with high added value.
The Kvadrat brand, although recent, relies on its archives to create content based on its know-how.
These documents help to embody the brand’s history and appear as markers of a past era. In the background, we read about the social evolutions, the technological innovations of an era but also the heritage and excellence acquired over the years… Thus, we participate in creating the myth, giving meaning and arousing emotion among the consumer. A particularly effective recipe for anchoring the message in your mind. It is also an excellent way to stand out from the crowd and stand out from the competition.
Once the nuggets have been found, they must be staged and disseminated. From a simple story with “behind-the-scene” accents to a detailed documentary, everything is possible.
Among the first in the class in storytelling around know-how, we find the big fashion houses like Chanel or Hermès, to name but a few.
Storytelling like Chanel
On its website, Chanel is told in videos, according to chapters, where history borders on know-how. We find there for example: the jacket, the Number 5… but also chapters that echo more the emblematic founder of the house and its values like “Gabrielle ou la liberté” or “Deauville”. The associated films combine archival images with more recent ones to offer a timeless storytelling. The profiles most attached to the traditional model will be able to find their way in, the story of Chanel is also told chronologically, but in a much more condensed way, in the form of a timeline with photos.
Chanel tells a different story, in the form of thematic chapters specific to the brand, on its website.
At Hermès, the brand is proud of its know-how and highlights it in every way: in the form of exhibitions, a travelling festival called “Hermès hors des murs” or a transmission programme by its Foundation… A series of documentaries, available on YouTube, also highlights the extent of Hermès’ craft know-how. The fashion house entrusted the camera to a journalist who went to meet the men and women who design its exceptional products. We see many white coats, hands, safe and applied gestures. We discover the human face of the brand, with its share of personalities and anecdotes.
It’s like a good Netflix series!
The Hermès documentary series, available on the brand’s Youtube channel.
In the same spirit, Van Cleef & Arpels presented a very beautiful nine-episode video series entitled Les mains d’or, directed by the famous fashion journalist, Loïc Prigent.
Another interesting format to evoke know-how is podcasting. This audio format, which has built its reputation in a few years, is a great way to arouse curiosity. LVMH and Hermès have understood this. The first proposes “Special Confidences”, in response to its “Special Days”, which aims to highlight the artisanal excellence of the group’s houses. The second one launched “Le faubourg des rêves”.
These two podcasts give voice to these women and men in the shadows who tell each other about their relationship with the brand but also about their daily lives.
The podcast format has the advantage of stimulating the imagination. We let ourselves be carried away by the confidences, the sound atmosphere, the descriptions… And our brain is milling at full speed. There’s nothing like hearing about the design of a silk square to make you want to go and see what it looks like in real life. We start dreaming, and that’s the goal!
Hermès’ podcast, The Faubourg of Dreams
The know-how dimension of a brand is therefore one of its assets on which it has every interest to communicate. Intimately linked to the brand’s history, the know-how translated in the storytelling offers a revival of authenticity, humanity and excellence to the brand.
When life offers you a lemon, as ripe and juicy as a unique know-how, don’t hesitate to make a beautiful lemonade!