3 Brands Who Mastered the Art of Storytelling

Everyone has that one friend…

The one that can tell a great story. The kind that makes you gather around to hear. No matter who you are, where you’re from or what age you are, everyone likes a good story. I think it must trace back to our childhood, to bedtime stories, meant to inspire our imagination, or just help our parents get us to “Go the F*%K To Sleep.

I’ve come to realize that stories are one of our most powerful forms of communication. It’s stories that build connections that can span countries, audiences and generations. Because people always remember a good story. A great story that personifies your brand is what you need in order to position yourself in the most effective way possible. Therefore, the most memorable brands with the greatest stories are the ones that stand out the most. Here are 3 brands who have done just that.

A great story that personifies your brand is what you need in order to position yourself in the most effective way possible.

1. Nike

Nearly everything Nike does is accompanied by a backstory. Instead of pushing a product with a Sell! Sell! Sell! mentality, Nike’s launch of a new footwear “Flyease” was released alongside a video and an article that told “The Flyease Story” of how the shoe came to be. This is a brand that acts with purpose. This specific shoe was designed with a specific function; for athletes who have trouble getting in and out of shoes and securing them. And the story behind it will make you look at the brand in a whole new light, I guarantee it.

2. GoPro

For handheld video camera brand Go Pro, every single day is a new opportunity to tell a story, to capture and share the most meaningful experiences in life, and celebrate them together. They have been successful in building brand loyalty through their user-generated content, with over 6,000 new videos uploaded to YouTube daily. The idea is that in the same way that “a day on the mountain with friends is more meaningful than one spent alone, the sharing of our collective experiences makes our lives more fun.”

3. Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees has an actual story, when its founders Roxanne, an artist, and Burt, a beekeeper met in 1984 while hitchhiking, hit it off and started making wax candles together. It’s simple, sweet, and despite the company’s success, they have stuck to their philosophy that “What you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer.” They have an entire section of their website devoted to their story and use videos to educate consumers about the processes. If you only watch one video, make it “Burt talks to the worker bees.

Everything we do becomes part of our story, part of who we are, what we believe in, what we stand for. For your brand to really stick out, you’ll need to clearly define its story and how you want to tell it. Reach your consumers in an emotional way, make a meaningful connection, be a great storyteller and watch your audience grow.

Four Ways Brands Create Faithful Followings

How is it that some brands create such faithful followings? How did La Croix fizzle its way to the top ranked sparkling water brand? And how is it that Trader Joe’s is a household name yet has no Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram account, not even a webpage? They all seem to have one thing in common; they are able to find new, inspiring and unique ways to stay in touch with their customer-base. Here are four specific marketing tactics used by brands with cult-like followings.

Advocacy is born from meaningful relationships.

1. Emotional Marketing

I remember the first time my friends dragged me to Soul Cycle. I couldn’t understand their obsession. We had been to tons of spinning classes before. And most of them came at a lower price tag. I had barely set one foot in the door before I saw the massive “Sprint” “Dance” “Rock” “Sweat” “Cry” “Laugh” “Change” “Soul” plastered on every wall. The music is so loud, the instructors are passionately giving motivational speeches about life throughout the class that by the time I’ve finished I’m just about convinced all of my dreams in life will come true as long as I continue going to Soul Cycle, despite the feeling of hearing loss similar to leaving an ACDC concert.

The key here that Soul Cycle has mastered is the ability to tap into the emotional side of their customer. The idea of benefit first, features second. Before knowing what your business, product or service does, touch on what’s most important to them; what it does for them. 60% of consumers who feel a “high brand connection” are more likely to make a purchase, only further proving that a strong emotional connection is key to creating and keeping more loyal customers.

2. User-Generated Content

The benefits of user-generated content marketing are huge. Why? On a basic level, people are influenced by what other people think. For a first-time buyer who hasn’t made up their mind about your brand but is looking for information, they are highly-likely to be influenced by others opinions. A user-generated content campaign can be successful by taking advantage of the power of numbers with an entire group of people talking about your product and what it does for them.

Coca-Cola launched their “Share a Coke” campaign by creating bottles personalized with first names, encouraging consumers to share a coke with someone and use the hashtag #shareacoke. Everyone has beard of Coca-Cola brand but this campaign was meant to revive engagement. The lesson here is that simple campaigns with a positive message can be extremely successful. When the campaign launched last June, Coca-Cola’s #shareacoke was the #1 global trending topic on social media and resulted in a 2% increase in sales. And while I’m sure a global brand such as Coca-Cola has no such worries, for a brand just starting out, a campaign involving multiple people that are spreading the word organically is a great way for publicity and conserving your marketing budget.

3. Brand Evolution

Not to be entirely biased but this is my favorite idea. Brand evolution. If you really take a minute to stop and think about what it takes to create a brand that can withstand the evolution of trends and time, it’s kind of incredible.

Moleskine is a product that has stayed relevant as a notebook in a digital age by allowing the brand to evolve whilst maintaining its legacy. It’s adapted to our world today with a line or journals, bags, writing and reading accessories that can travel with us and are dedicated to our “mobile identity.” At the same time Moleskine continues to brand themselves as a symbol of creativity, reminding those who have nostalgia for pen and paper that Hemingway and Picasso were among its early brand advocates.

4. Inspire Ownership in your Brand

Beachbody. You’ve heard of it. Or tried it. At least one person you’re friends with on Facebook is a coach and is part of the Beachbody community and is blowing up your newsfeed about it. This brand has gone straight to the top of the at home fitness and nutrition industry by inspiring ownership. Beachbody has over 450,000 independent coaches working to distribute products, fitness programs and nutrition coaching. They reached over $1 billion in sales last year and get over five million unique visits to their digital platforms monthly. How? By giving each coach the tools they need to succeed and then putting them in charge of their own success.

Creating advocacy within your brand comes down to creating meaningful relationships; 64% of consumers say shared values is the main reason they have a relationship with a brand. Studies show that 52% of the population and 62% of Millennials tend to stick with one brand once they’ve made their decision, making it that much more important to make the consumer your first priority from day one.

The Power of Social Media

Social Media is all about perception.

The most successful brands have been able to use their social platforms to gain loyal followers, communicate with their customers and be a part of their daily lives. However, as Uncle Ben would say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” For Uber, it only took one tweet to put them in the hot seat with their users and potentially cause irreparable damage to the brand.

On Saturday January 28th, The Taxi Workers Alliance in NYC had asked all drivers, including Uber, not to pick up at JFK airport from 6-7pm to protest Donald Trump’s immigration and refugee ban. Uber’s response was a misguided tweet, informing customers it had switched off surge pricing at JFK. This was, according to Uber’s CEO, an honest attempt to help customers continue traveling to and from JFK at normal rates, but it was seen across the nation as an attempt to undercut the strike, especially as they were asked to stand in solidarity. In this political climate, it has certainly not gone unnoticed that Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick is serving as an economic advisor to President Trump.

"Surge pricing has been turned off at #JFK Airport. This may result in longer wait times. Please be patient."


Enter the power of Social Media.

Uber was quick to apologize but not before a social media campaign had been started on Twitter, via the #DeleteUber hashtag, quickly becoming the number one trend in the entire U.S. by Saturday night.

Lyft was also quick to act, coming out against the travel ban by pledging to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union. And just like that, the competitor car service company that never could quite catch up to Uber began soaring up the App Store’s Charts from #39 to #8, knocking Uber down to #17.

Uber “Trumped” Lyft’s $1 million by creating a $3 million fund to help cover immigration and legal costs for its drivers who were affected by the ban and spoke out against the new presidential administration’s travel ban but in just hours after that one tweet from Uber, thousands had already deleted their accounts, proving it by posting pictures of it. Four days later, #DeleteUber is still getting 525 tweets/hour, 975 retweets/hour and 10.5 million views/per hour.

For Uber, one tweet sent out during a time of political unrest in what’s being called the “Twitter Presidency” along with its CEO’s role within the Trump organization caused a national social media frenzy. The lesson for other companies is clear. Your customers are starting to hold the brands they use and trust accountable, and they are using social media to do it.

Carbon Hires a CPO

Carbon announces Steve McCall as CPO (Chief Pizza Officer). In addition to sourcing and securing the best pizza for Carbon and our clients, Steve will also lead all client relationships as a Partner.

He brings more than 20 years of experience directing brand marketing across digital, experiential, and shopper marketing to the team, and previously, Steve was the General Manager of a large full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in Boston.

A perfect fit.

Steve joins Carbon’s executive team, which includes fellow Partners, Jason Rivera and Nikki Raffenetti. Carbon fuses culture, data & technology to build bonds between people and brands.

Cocktails & Conversations w/ Nikki Raffenetti

A match made in heaven.

On November 14, 2017 Nikki Raffanetti was the featured speaker at the series launch of 28 Carrots’ “Cocktails & Conversations.” Which is coincidentally the working copy for Nikki’s tombstone.

Nikki invited the 28 Carrots team to the Carbon office on Inn St. in Newburyport to help plan the event along with other speakers. During the event, Nikki highlighted her 20 years of marketing experience as well as her expertise in business strategy, operations management, and her entrepreneurial success with Carbon, which opened in 2016.

Nikki shared her story and lead a lively group discussion that focused on lessons learned through business leadership. Nikki also serves as a board member for 28 Carrots, which provides female entrepreneurs with opportunities to connect and engage with other like-minded women.

Carbon and the 40 under 40

The big four-oh.

One of Carbon’s founding partners, Jason Rivera, was recently honored at the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce 40 Under 40 Awards Night. He was named one of the winners who have demonstrated outstanding professional and volunteer accomplishments. The success of Carbon, his community involvement and his continued support of alma mater, the Governor’s Academy, contributed to his selection.

At 6’6″ and 280 pounds, Jason accounted for 3 of the 40 winners.

Why We Love Analytics

Data is everywhere. The influx of information is constant. By consolidating data sources, eliciting product ideas from consumers and using analytics to meet retailers’ changing needs, brands can set themselves up to build a lasting relationship with their consumer. They will be better positioned to create targeted, personalized marketing, innovative new products and the customized experiences that today’s consumers’ demand.

True brand loyalty is more than a points system; it’s the ability to engage your audience, create emotional connections and exceed their expectations that will create lasting relationships.

A customer-centric business model equals increased profitability. Analytics will get you there.

Here’s how to benefit:

1. Improve customized offerings for customers

Thanks to the popularity of digital channels, consumer product brands have 24/7 access to product browsing activity, social media engagement and location. From a consumer perspective, I think we can all agree that the amount of information, brands and products available online is overwhelming. The ability for a brand to compile data from multiple sources to create a personalized experience for each consumer has shown to skyrocket brand loyalty. A great example is Netflix, a company that stands by the idea that better recommendations are the key to building brand loyalty. Chief Product Officer at Netflix Neil Hunt said that improving recommendations by 10% in 2014 led to a 1% decrease in subscription cancels, which is worth $500 million/year to the company. After that, you can sit back and let word of mouth work its magic. I mean, don’t tell me you haven’t seen Stranger Things???

2. Meet changing needs

With increased amounts of data and analytics comes increased market fragmentation, which can make product development somewhat of a challenge. Use that segmentation to your advantage and that same analysis can help to eliminate guesswork. How? Take Lay’s for example. They recently launched a play on words program called “Do Us A Flavor” that asked its customers to vote for new Lay’s potato chip products. By utilizing this crowdsourcing process, the brand created a direct channel for feedback from their most dedicated audiences, almost guaranteeing their new product to be a hit.

3. Build stronger bonds

Until recently, supply chain management has been notoriously slow to implement analytics into its manufacturing operations. Things are now starting to shift as the rising diversity of sales channels, social media for example, is driving changes as what people say about a service or a product can completely forecast or indicate a change in demand. This is especially true for Consumer-Packaged Goods, such as food and beverages, footwear and apparel, things that have to be replaced frequently. 20-25% of CPG are replaced or changed each year. The need for data management, organization and a streamlined process to allow these products to scale and change in order to meet consumer and retailer’s needs can make or break a brand in a competitive market.

What can you do?

Aggregate your data, utilize a data management platform; software that will suck up, sort and spit out data in a way that is useful for gaining marketing and consumer insights. If all else fails, seek expert help. After all, data is a powerful tool to building brand loyalty and today’s consumers are busier than ever. They are savvy shoppers, making cross-platform purchases and favoring companies that offer the most seamless and customized experience. They aren’t just shopping but are looking for ideas and inspiration on a brand’s website as well as their social media channels. Each interaction is an opportunity for a brand to gain a new loyal customer. When executed properly, analytics allow companies to target specific purchasing behaviors, predict trends and create a personalized experience with each consumer.