How to Infuse Storytelling in Fashion Marketing
Victoria B. Willie, Contributing Editor
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**This is the first part of a three-part series on fashion brand storytelling.
The year was 1997. A Scottish couple had just bought a pre-owned dress auctioned at £39,098. This dress wasn’t made of magnificent stones, embellished fabrics, and intricate details. It was Princess Diana’s low-cut, figure-hugging little black dress made of black silk damask with a chiffon train.
Designed by London-based dressmaker, Christina Stambolian, the dress's initial price was £900. But the late Princess Diana didn’t wear it for about three years after getting it in 1991. So how did it sell at an auction for £39,098 or $65,000 according to People Magazine?
Because of the story surrounding her first outing in the dress.
Per the story, the late Princess of Wales wore this dress the same night her estranged husband, Prince Charles confessed to adultery on national TV. One would expect her not to grace the dinner engagement at the Serpentine Gallery in London after her husband’s confession. But sweet Diana didn’t let that stop her.
She donned the dress and the next day, made headlines alongside reports of her husband's admitted adultery. Most people thought it was a deliberate reaction to her husband’s revelation, and that was how the dress earned the nickname "The Revenge Dress.”
It was no surprise that when Diana decided to auction her famous dresses for charity, the Revenge dress sold for such an exorbitant amount.
Why am I bringing this up?
Storytelling is a powerful marketing weapon. Significant Objects reports that storytelling increases the value of products by up to 2,706%. (We can say the same for the Revenge Dress). And since you're intent on growing your fashion brand, it's only expedient you sell your brand with stories.
We’ve seen top fashion businesses like Nike and Dior excel at it. But how can yours get on this train and leverage storytelling for success?
Why Storytelling in Fashion?
Like a writer using words to tell a story, fashion designers use different elements of design to take us on an experiential journey. These elements could be the design idea, fabric, prints, textures, silhouettes, colors, construction details, etc.
But storytelling in fashion isn’t limited to the symbolism behind a garment’s design elements. It also includes brand marketing as a whole. That is, crafting emotive marketing messages that spur prospects to become a fan of your brand.
That’s what brand storytelling entails. In the words of Walter Lim, Founder of Cooler Insights:
“Brand storytelling can be defined as the art and science of using a compelling narrative to evoke empathy and resonance between your brand and your customers. It involves communicating your values, beliefs, and distinctiveness through a story that connects with your audience.”
Weaving storytelling into your fashion brand’s marketing comes with its perks, some of which include:
An excellent way to make your fashion brand stick in the minds of your target audience is to tell a captivating story. The Beauty brand, Dove did this in 2013 with its Real Beauty Campaigns, one of which is the Real Beauty Sketches.
It was a self-esteem and body confidence campaign that featured women describing themselves to a forensic artist who couldn’t see them while he sketched. After they described themselves, strangers who had previously interacted with the women described the very women and the artist sketched.
While the women themselves gave negative remarks about their looks, the strangers’ comments were far more complimentary. And when they compared the sketches, the ones based on the strangers' descriptions were not only more attractive. They were also accurate representations of how the women actually looked.
What better way to remind women of their beauty than with a story? This particular Dove story was so memorable that more than 114 million people viewed the video within a month of its release. It happened because the campaign was so emotive that it resonated with a massive audience and became a topic of discussion among peers. More brand awareness for Dove, you’d agree?
That was in 2013. This is 2023. You can imagine how many more views the video has garnered.
Of course, the campaign generated more results beyond making Dove a resonating name. It received awards and the brand sold an enormous amount of its products, which brings us to the next benefit.
It Incites Action
Do you want to increase sales, drive a social cause, or get your target audience to do what you ask them to do? Sell to them with a story.
Take Adidas, for instance. Through a Zalando Marketing Services (ZMS) Insights survey, the sportswear label discovered that although their customers care deeply about sustainability, they struggle to translate their values. And so, they set out to enable self-expression and attract Gen Z consumers who share the same sustainable values.
Partnering with Zalando, they created a campaign tagged “Be the Inspiration” and employed influencers who shared their sustainability journey via Instagram posts, stories, and TikTok videos. Among the results the campaign generated, Adidas also experienced 10% more purchases from the Gen Z audience vs their average audience.
It Creates Brand Connection
Storytelling also helps to create brand trust. If your stories are emotive, it evokes your audience’s empathy and wins their trust. It’s why many people love Nike. Their marketing messages are empowering. They give people the impression that if they wear their sneakers, they will be as high-achieving as LeBron James or other athletic stars who wear Nike.
Since 81% of consumers believe they need to trust a brand before buying from them, it's only ideal you harness storytelling to earn customers' trust.
How Do You Bring Storytelling into Fashion Marketing?
Storytelling can become a crucial part of your fashion brand’s marketing if you incorporate it into your:
TV commercials or Youtube videos
Social media content
In subsequent parts of this series, you’ll see how this plays out to help you incorporate storytelling into your brand easily.
About Victoria B. Willie
The first time I wrote a story I was about six years old. It wasn't a story per se. It was a description (or better still, caption) that gave meaning to the caricatures my elder cousin drew on paper. From that moment till today, I've been giving meaning to things (and now businesses) with words.
But when I'm not helping businesses sell more via storytelling, you’ll catch me writing style articles for Svelte Magazine, designing fashion-forward pieces for my fashion brand, Ria Kosher, and telling wild stories that always come with a twist.
You can connect with me on LinkedIn via https://www.linkedin.com/in/victoria-b-willie/