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Storytelling, The Key Success Factor for Luxury Brands in China

Last modified: July 10, 2020
Cartier storytelling luxury

What is storytelling?

It’s the creation of an emotional universe. Storytelling is born in the 90s in the USA when most of the brands were empty of energy and imagination. Rolf Jensen introduced the notion of a “Dream Society” in 2000:

“The company with the best story wins: consumers will pay for the story that sparks the imagination, that reflects how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us” – Rolf Jensen

Stories are the most important raw materials of the 21st century

Storytelling builds the core, the essentials of the brand like its history, characters, collections, culture, values… It also awakes the customers’ sensibility, settles a long-lasting, loyal and emotional relationship, creates expectancy and impatience. The final point is to create a sense of belonging by making storytelling the “soulmate” and the love story of the brand.

Storytelling is described as “The machine for making stories and formatting minds.” – Christian Salmon

“La Légende de Shalimar” Guerlain storytelling

Storytelling is owned, paid but not earned.

  • Owned cause it represents everything that belongs to the brand; its History, heritage, know-how, founders, employees, retail, head office, marketing, brand extension…
  • Storytelling is paid because influence is built, through advertising, PR, events, corporate communication, video, digital activity, books, ambassadors…
  • And finally, storytelling is earned: out of control, the influence comes from outside and can be it positive or negative. Storytelling can be expressed for example by fame, word-of-mouth, buzz, brand performing, auction sales, coping with a crisis, or internal conflicts.

Are stories stronger than facts?

The evolution of storytelling was huge in 2006 when it crossed the borders of marketing to reach other fields of the economy. For example, doctors, lawyers, researchers, psychologists, economists have now their own use of storytelling to express their vision. Politicians also use storytelling as story spinners to convince, as it is close to diplomacy.

Louis Vuitton “L’Invitation au Voyage” video campaign

Objectives of the storytelling

  • Inform, initiate and reveal, just showing is not enough
  • Entertain people
  • Emerge and draw attention because the competition is ever more challenging
  • Stimulate emotion, call upon imagination through words, sounds, images…
  • Elevate, make dream thanks to a link with art (make of a luxury good a piece of art)
  • Create customer commitment and loyalty (good quality content, regularly enriched with new stories creates links on the long term with the customers)
  • Federate and motivate the staff
  • Optimize recruitment to reach highly skilled and innovative executive

Fitting new customers’ expectations

The Luxury landscape change; brands grow and large groups appear. In China, the globalization contributed to highlighting a new kind of customers from the middle class, that have access to luxury. Storytelling takes now a large place since the apparition of the Internet and it can adapt to new cultures. It helps to fit non-European customers’ expectations. Brands are searching for a specific identity and positioning. How can groups help a brand to build its storytelling?

Chanel & Dior storytelling adaptation to China

Storytelling could mean focusing on the message sender, but it’s wrong. The main focus is on the target. You have to know it very well in order to anticipate and create the best connections between your target and your story.

How to make use of storytelling

There are different kinds of storytelling, so here are a few rules to make use of storytelling the better way possible to suit your needs:

  • Don’t be exhaustive
  • Focus on outstanding, significant and impressive elements
  • Make your story a life adventure, don’t just describe
  • Be coherent and have a guideline: 1 single pointless or irrelevant element can lose the reader’s attention
  • Never lie, never cheat

Choose the right angle

If you are a start-up, you can build your story around the founder’s personality. You can insist on technical newness thanks to surprising elements centered around innovation, design & creativity. Most of the famous luxury brands capitalize on their history, their creativity, the scarcity of the product, and the know-how of the brand. You can focus on the main values of your brand as a key success factor, but don’t forget that storytelling is no advertising, don’t just describe every aspect of your brand, build a story.

Get to know the ecosystem of the brand language

Make use of the brand universe, its history, themes, and values. Identify magnetic fields like words, objects, shapes, colors, sounds, music, places, persons… that can objectify the values and history. Think about a library value in case of worldwide diffusion for example. And then, think that your story can be displayed in all touchpoints, from print to digital and retail.

“L’Odyssée” Cartier storytelling

What is NOT storytelling

Storytelling expresses a point of view with a strategic vision; the absence of strategy leads to misunderstandings. Bad quality content with a weak information value is not storytelling, it is just interchangeable content without emotion. Sporadic, piecemeal contents and events that are not related to the brand story is not storytelling. In luxury, customers do not simply buy an item, they buy a brand universe and expect to be psychologically immersed in it.

You did a right use of storytelling when:

  • You understand that choosing a story is choosing aside
  • Whatever your story, make it coherent, consistent, verifiable and credible
  • Whatever your story, keep in line it on the long term
  • Repetition of the message is crucial to print your message in your customers’ mind
  • Your efforts optimize SEO performance and brand identity

Read more about advertising and fashion in China:

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