“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

- Joseph Campbell

Engaging your audience through storytelling

Engaging your audience through storytelling

Today, after the client meeting, I was going down the avenue des Champs-Élysées and noticed that the Hugo Boss store is being rebuilt these days. The shopping lovers will probably laugh at such a belated notice of mine - sorry guys, better late than never! What attracted my attention is the design of the stores' vitrines. I didn't have my new little camera with me (would have taken photos myself), but I found a few online:

Photos from the  Retail Design Blog .

Photos from the Retail Design Blog.

The style of the illustrations reminded me the ones on the DoitinParis website and, indeed, Hugo Boss has collaborated with the same Parisian illustrator – Angéline Mélin.

Through the canvas of seven shop windows, Angéline tells us a modern love story of Louis and Juliette. She first introduces us to the characters (story displayed from February to March), then she tells us about their encounter and first date (from March to April), and continues developing their romance (from April to May).

This is a good example of a well-orchestrated “buzz” campaign with a goal to “flock” more people into the store. If we were to identify the essential ingredients of its success, I think they would be as follows (technicalities aside):

  • It stands out: this is achieved through original execution, especially because of the selected format. We don’t see often the illustrations on the windows of the boutiques, do we? Most of the time we are “being amused” by the frozen and faceless mannequin. So the selected format is unusual in that sense and thus stands out.

  • It relates to us and makes us dream: the story being told is what most people think about when they think of Paris. The Seine, the cafés, the motorcycle, the romance… The story feeds our dream for Paris and places the Hugo Boss store in the center of this dream. We relate to the characters and their experiences and through that we relate to the Hugo Boss brand. The brand “clicks with us.”The selected format – illustrations – makes the overall campaign approachable. It feels more tangible and thus we relate to it closer than to traditional high-end fashion photography, for example. This consequently adds a new dimension to the brand and takes it closer to its audience.

  • It builds the momentum: the story is told over a period of time, it makes us excited to come into the store, it makes us want for more. It build the necessary momentum to engage with the brand more actively.

  • It engages us: we are allowed to “take the story home” as we can connect with the characters on Facebook and follow the story there. We can even opt-in to win a trip for two to Paris:


With this example, I’d like to reinforce the idea I pushed so much during my workshop last Thursdaysuccessful online communications are, first and foremost, based on a good narrative – a good story which weaves in the relationship building techniques. The social media and online PR are only the tools that facilitate the visibility for your story. But the challenge is not in the tools – the challenge is in discovering and defining the stories which would enable the brand to communicate engagingly with its audience. The challenge is to pinpoint the elements through which the brand could bond with its audience and build loyal ties with it.

This discovery and definition of a narrative is a process in itself and this is what is the crux of the matter. Unfortunately, quite a few entrepreneurs I meet want to “just get on with this social media” or “just get that website done” without having a solid foundation which would enable them to create something really worth-the-time and worth that “buzz” everyone desires. Get your core narrative / story in place as it is the center of gravity of your overall communications. Without it, how can one use any of the communication tools effectively? Whichever one you end up using: print, email, website, social media, etc… It’s like trying to get to a destination with a car without knowing how to drive  Boom… So please, don’t skip the essentials…

Hugo Boss got their essentials right. My only “2 cents” for this campaign would be to take this story to the next level on their website and the social networks. Right now, the story is featured only as a blog post on their website and on Facebook their announcements get lost among the other messages. There is no dedicated space where people could bond with the characters on a more intimate level. Right now you have to go through all the “corporate gates” to connect with them. Perhaps a dedicated and more interactive space on their website (or even a microsite) could have been created just for this campaign rather than being hidden among the overall communications.

I hope this example will be an inspiration on how to engage your audience through creative storytelling… I am sure you can find ways to weave these principles into the communications of your own venture without the resources of the Hugo Boss brand. It’s just a matter of being creative. If you get stuck, drop us a line and we’ll roll up our sleeves :))

p.s. I have to admit that I have a “sweet tooth” for nice illustrations and brands with “artistic dimensions.” So, overall, thumbs up for Hugo Boss for this initiative !

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