Stories light up our brains. It is not metaphorical. It's based on science.
Storytelling is fundamental to how humans consume and convey information, and the best stories grab and hold our attention. If you think about it, storytelling is fundamental to marketing as well.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but the stories you tell.”
For brands, a story is a powerful medium to convey its message in an engaging and memorable manner. It focuses on evoking empathy by connecting the values of your brand with those of your target audience.
Nike’s first story
“Listening to stories of ordinary people called to great things fortifies our belief that we can become heroes in our own lives.” - Joseph Campbell.
There is a natural attraction to tales of triumph over adversity. This prompted Nike to emphasize inspirational storytelling as a cornerstone of its marketing strategy.
Soon after, Jordan was fined $5,000 by the NBA for wearing the red and black Nike shoes because their dress code only mandated the use of white shoes.
In response to the fine, Nike created a campaign centered on the rebellious nature of the Air Jordan I shoes, which ended by saying, “the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them.” This was Nike’s first and most successful attempt at storytelling.
The campaign carried an inspirational message which made the audience feel courageous by knowing that nothing can stop them from achieving their dreams. It also generated $126 million in sales by the end of the first year after the release of Air Jordan I, making Nike a mainstream shoe brand.
Deconstructing Nike’s art of storytelling
Nike has set the bar high when it comes to storytelling. But it's not just any storytelling; it's storytelling that subtly but effectively promotes the emotional benefits of Nike's products.
But how did Nike master the art of storytelling?
Nike’s storytelling stands on three strong pillars: its core values, a consistent theme, and a storytelling framework.
Let’s discuss the three in detail.