Why your product needs a story

It was the end of November last year and I decided to get an advent calendar for my children. I stared at the calendars available in the store, with calendar windows containing different Christmas motifs inside. To be honest, they seemed a bit boring. I wanted to give my children something else, something they would remember.

I went down to the local toy store and decided I would try out a present calendar with 24 different things, one for each day. The store had lots of things. Useless things that no one really needs. Things that would be forgotten one minute after they got opened. If I was to buy these things for my children, would they appreciate it? And which things would I pick? I started to come up with arguments of why they would need the different things but gave up when I reached the fifth one. Nothing seemed really exiting to give or to get. There was something missing.  Something to connect the things and make them meaningful. They needed context. They needed a story.

I returned home and started writing a story in 24 parts. A story containing a mystery and different clues leading up to the solution in the end. When I was done I went back to the toy store. But this time I didn’t look for 24 meaningless things to wrap in a present calendar. This time I looked for  clues relevant to the story I had written. The story would raise the gifts and make them important and special.

It turned out my children loved the calendar and its selected clues. They got engaged in the story and longed for the next part. And now, one year later, they still remember the story and which clues they got as presents.

This year a few of my friends asked me if I could share my Christmas story with them so that they could tell it to their children. I published information about it at storytella.se and spread the word through viral channels such as Facebook and Twitter. To my surprise, 25 different people ordered my story in the first week. Many of them are people I don’t know.

Storytelling is a powerful tool that can connect your product to a context and give it purpose. An underlying story makes it easier to remember the products and associate them with certain feelings and attributes.

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