10 brands that don’t just sell products, they situate them within a story, and so should you

If your website simply consists of a list of your products or services, divided by categories (some of which you can barely filter), you are not optimizing your approach. 

I see it all the time: I land on a company’s webpage and find a list of products (“pants,” “shoes,” “home decor,” etc.) or services (“financial,” “legal,” “facial,” etc.).

Here is an example:

The page is plain, and it doesn’t inspire.

(The above is from a local brand I love—they sell beautiful products and are also a lovely brick and mortar store, but they could do more.)

Brands can improve their storytelling (via all of their communications channels, from webpages to e-newsletters) in order to:

  • Make us dream
  • Inspire us to “do the same”
  • Invite us to think differently
  • Ask us to join a movement
  • And the list goes on…

Brands should situate their products within a wider story so that we’re not just buying another object, or service, we are also: “living that dream,” “enjoying that evening,” “climbing that mountain,” and seeing ourselves “there.”

10 brands that are mastering the art of story:

Ikea paints a beautiful children’s bedroom and offers to help with “See ideas for baby and kids’ rooms:”

Zara brings us into their House Museum and makes us dream about beautifully decorated homes, inspiring us to want the same (they’re not just selling vases): 

Reformation invites us to read their sustainability report and become part of something larger than just dresses:

Kids brand, Charlotte et Charlie, situates us in a fantasy, or Instragramable reality, with their images (they don’t just list their cribs and bibs):

GE tells inspiring world stories:

Strom spa created an entire magazine dedicated to well-being (they’re not just selling 90-minute massages—they’re inspiring movement and thought):

Jewelry brand, Mejuri, clearly positions their mission on their front page and invites us to read about their three commitments (they’re not just selling minimalist diamond rings):  

Mountain Equipment brand, MEC, blogs about Faire Trade and Truth and Reconciliation, among other topics (they’re not just selling cross-country skis and shoes): 

Visa is supporting FIFA World Cup 2022 fans and celebrating their joys in a video (they’re not just selling services):

Deloitte puts people’s stories at the forefront (and is not just in the business of consulting):

Ways you too can situate your products within a story

  • Paint an inspiring scene so that clients can picture their own success (from decorating their bathroom with style, to finding their courage to climb that mountain);
  • Bring your mission to the forefront (don’t hide it at the very bottom of the page, behind an “About us” button);
  • Feature your people and humanize your brand (remember that people connect with people, first);
  • Speak about what you stand for (be it something as small as helping the local community, or as big as partnering with the FIFA World Cup); or
  • Guide your clients with helpful articles (don’t just publish a list of products or services)

Not all business have the time, resources, or money for grand gestures and elaborate insights—I know.

But that shouldn’t stop you from starting small.

For example, instead of listing your products or services at the top of your page, why don’t you enunciate your vision first.

Try speaking about a community initiative at some point.

And perhaps showcase the founder at the end, with an inspiring quotation about why she started her business.

You’ll soon be on your way to telling your story and connecting more deeply with your clients community.

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