Getting The Story Right

Products are only as good as the story they tell. Whether it is an app or an electric toothbrush, the creators have to think about how it is going to be a captivating story for the target audience. If the product cannot form a relationship with another person at an emotional level, then they have no reason to buy it. If no one can find anything interesting to say about what you’ve made, chances are, word will never get around.

Products can focus on some interesting areas to tell their story...

Be part of a bigger picture

Most products serve as a piece of a much larger puzzle, usually in the context of personal or a communal goal. It is important to feature potential customers in this context and show how your little contribution makes all the difference. The GoPro cameras literally have the tagline “be a hero”. In their story, you make the great things happen. The camera is just a little piece of of your journey from doing something amazing and sharing it with the world.

Tone & Identity

Stories can focus on what it means to own the product. It could reflect on your status or the kind of person you are by owning it. If you own something like the Jawbone UP or NIKE FuelBand, I immediately get an idea of the kind of person you are because they promote a certain culture around their functionality. Same goes with Apple and the cult it has built around it’s products and services. A smaller example is a weather app that swears -- stupid but props for the innovative take. I fucking hate cold weather. Having that tone and attitude come through the story helps a great deal to form a relationship.


How is your product making the world better? Great example of nobility is Kahn Academy. They are transforming the way education works and how children learn. This is truly evolving our society to be better. How can you not talk about it?


All things evolve over time. But the history of how something came to being is a great story in itself. Recently I read about how Jawbone UP had to recall their first version of the fitness band, only to come back strong with a better successor! I immediately went out and bought one for Josh, who loves experimenting with diets and health related things. Having failed only made the story better! Likewise, Mailbox App has a great page in their website on their story. It talks about how they were a todo app and the lessons learnt helped them achieve a new perspective. Understanding that context helps me subscribe to their way of doing email.

So, think about the story before you think about features for your next app, product or creation. It could even apply to your current iteration. Don’t say “it will be different because it will have feature X compared to Twitter”. Replace it with a story; the idea behind your features. People will buy into that.

When you write this story down, work on brainstorming a crazy headline to go with it. Good example: "An iPhone app that lets you turn kinky sex into a todo list!". Seriously, don’t you want to find out a little more after reading that?! This headline you come up with can form the basis of your marketing campaign.

Use your story to pitch the idea to everyone you meet. Practise saying it and tweak it as you go along. When you’re nearing your launch, put it somewhere public so everyone can read about it. It will contribute significantly towards a future where you are rolling on a pile of cash!

Once you get your story right, it’s time to focus on building a great experience and nailing down the right workflow. More on that another day...