18 Apr Creating a “brand story” as a tool of engagement: A case study
I say it all the time… familiarity develops trust and trust brings the business. But, how can you achieve mulitple touchpoints with knitters & crocheters in a way that is not costly, annoying or spammy?
Creating a “brand story” or a personality behind your brand is an effective way to deepen the engagement with your customer. Let’s take look at one of my clients, Sanguine Gryphon as a successful case study:
Sanguine Gryphon is an duo of independent yarn dyers that have mostly built their brand in the Ravelry community among dedicated indie yarn worshipers. You know the type– these are the folks that clamored to get into Sock Summit Classes and would trade a first-born child for a skein of Wollmeise sock yarn. Sanguine Gryphon’s “brand theme” is primarily rooted in a backdrop of “medieval times”.
Almost everything within the brand references some aspect of medieval history and culture including her logo, fonts, website, newsletter, and some yarn names. Gryphon and Sarah even play the part wearing period clothing at consumer shows. We are always looking for ways to expand on the brand “story”– for example, we’ll be crafting a buyer loyalty program around the concept of the medieval hierarchy, which is in development for launch later this year.
Further, Sanguine Gryphon have other “story lines” within the brand that serve to further engage with the customer base. Their Bugga! yarn line is one such example. All the yarn colors are named after similarly-colored insects.
I’m in awe how this one little aspect of her brand has become almost a subculture of interest for her customers (and they’re not all geeky entomologist types either!)
On Ravelry, there is a lot of chatter in their group about the bug names and colorways and they skillfully use that interest to deepen engagement. In the newsletter, for example, they are offering a puzzle contest. Readers who can successfully identify the names of insect photos and unscramble the puzzle are eligible for a $100 gift certificate.
Instead of just being online pushing sales of a nice ball of yarn, they’ve got a “hook”, a tool for engagement–something that entices the buyer to spend time with the brand even when they’re not buying it. They’re talking about it, they’re playing games around it, they’re learning something (about bugs) and connecting with each other around it, and all of a sudden,
you’ve got familiarity! You’ve got trust! and you’ve got buyers!
Just recently, they’ve created another new brand story for Bugga! Although a bit unorthodox, the response has been incredible. They’ve created a personality for a skein of Bugga! called the “Traveling Bugga!” Yes, that’s right— a skein yarn has taken on lifelike form with eyes and glasses and a bad-boy personality and all.
Traveling Bugga! lives on a Facebook Fanpage and will be jet-setting around the world teaching about unique and interesting fiber facts along the way. On the first day the page went up, we instantly had 56 fans. After the newsletter went out, introducing him, the fanbase shot up to 200 overnight. I predict this fanpage will climb to over 1000 by the end of the year. You know you’re curious… so here’s the link.
Again, this is going to be successful because it’s a very effective way to stay connected with Bugga! buyers through a frequent connection 2-3 times per week where humor becomes the touchpoint, not sales push.
How can YOU create a brand story as a tool of engagement for your yarn company?
Aside from the examples in our case-study above, there are a few other ways you can create a “story” behind your brand. Sometimes, with a strong presence– YOU can become the personality behind your brand. Sheri Berger at The Loopy Ewe and Kathy Elkins of Webs both stand out as real people behind the brand. They are the ones blogging and tweeting and responding in the knitting community AS themselves. The only downside to this is if you’re ever wanting to sell your company… so be sure to consider your long-term business goals with this approach.
You can develop a brand “story” based on a character or a concept much like Linda Niemeyer’s “Spud & Chloë” line which she developed independently of her other brand, Blue Sky Alpacas. I’d bet some readers didn’t even know they were connected in that way because of how effectively Spud & Chloë stands apart. The logo images, the website, the blog,the pattern line and even Tweets on Twitter.com are all a unique brand.
However you arrive at a branding story or personality, be sure you are consistent across all your efforts in the social media, advertising and promotion realm. Achieving consistency in your messaging is a blog posting for another time—- for now, start thinking about how you can get your yarn skeins traveling!