Master storytellers: How The Nike Storytelling Marketing makes you ‘just do it’

|
Marketing

Ever heard of Michael Jordan? Of course you have. He’s an inspiration. 

He’s widely considered one of the greatest basketball players (and one of the greatest athletes) of all time. His journey began with Nike back in 1984. He was young. He was at the start of his career. His life was about to change. 

Jordan was a rookie looking for sponsorship, hellbent on signing with Adidas. But his parents convinced him to take the risk and take the record-breaking $2.5 million deal with Nike (which was a huge gamble for the company). Luckily for Nike, the gamble paid off. Jordan went on to gain multiple accolades and achievements in his first professional basketball season. 

When Nike launched the AIR Jordan shoe, they designed it in the colours of the Chicago Bulls - the team Jordan played for. This was against the NBA rules. Regulations stated that shoes must be all white so Jordan received a $5000 fine whenever he played in the shoes, and of course, Nike picked up the bill. This did a few things: It made the AIR Jordans stand out, fuelled demand for the shoes, and positioned Nike as a disruptor in a crowded and competitive industry. 

Nike projected earnings from the shoe to hit $3 million in the initial launch year. How much did they actually make? Just shy of $130 million; absolutely smashing projections.

How did they do this? By telling stories. Let’s dig into that a little more…

Nike’s core brand strategy is telling stories

…Or selling stories.

CFO of Nike, Matthew Friend, said: “We need to accelerate our pace of innovation, elevate our marketplace experiences, maximize the impact of our storytelling and increase our speed and responsiveness, all in service of the consumer”

Performance is currently outpacing lifestyle, according to Nike. To stay at the forefront of their market, they need to innovate. To innovate, they need to make money. To make money, (you guessed it) they need to tell (sell) stories. 

Stories form the backbone of Nike's core marketing strategy and brand communication. From global superstars to local legends, Nike’s bread and butter crafting narratives that resonate deeply with their audience - whoever that may be. The under-achiever who wants to achieve great things. The over-achiever trying to push their limit. Professional athletes. Amateur athletes. Mums. Dads. Sons. Daughters. The list goes on. 

Their philosophy of ‘Just Do It’ sits at the heart of all their brand messaging and customer touchpoints. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mammoth goal… or just getting out of bed. Without getting out there to ‘just do it’ you’ll never achieve anything (the main narrative that Nike push in their marketing).

Nike storytelling examples

Let’s take a look at some examples of Nike using storytelling effectively in their marketing and then later in the blog we’ll look into key components that these ads share that make them effective. 

Revolution

 

Nike’s ‘Revolution’ ad was influential for a few reasons. Big hits by huge artists weren’t seen in adverts (probably due to how expensive it was). So having a song by The Beatles soundtracking their ad positioned them as disruptors at the time. Yoko Ono cleared the track for use as she was in control of John Lennon’s estate but the rest of The Beatles tried to sue Nike for $15 million dollars which added a whole new layer and created even more buzz around the ad. 

The Runner

Greatness. It’s just something we made up

This ad is great because it helps to shift the perception of what it means to be great. It shifts focus away from being great at something meaning being ‘the best’. When realistically, greatness is subjective to the individual taking on a specific task. The power behind this ad is the fact that it highlights greatness lies in the personal achievement of an individual and that greatness isn’t out of grasp for anyone. 

How subjective this ad is is what makes it effective. It targets the aspirational segment of their audience by essentially saying ‘Look, if this guy can do it - so can you’. It doesn’t matter what your level of ability is - it’s motivational at its core. This is exactly what Nike set out to do, motivate you to do more. And when the time comes to ‘just do it’ you’ll be scrambling to get your hands on some shiny new white trainers. 

Failure

Even though it’s set to an incredibly cheesy soundtrack - The story Nike is telling here is simple. No one is immune from failure and there is no success without failure. Even the greatest of athletes lose, miss, and fail. Without those failures, he would not be where he is today. 

Dream Crazy

‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything’

This ad features Colin Kaepernick and inspires watchers to ‘dream crazy’. Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem before an NFL game in protest against racial injustice in the US - this cost him his football career. 

Nike then teamed up with Kaepernick for this campaign which highlighted sporting heroes who dreamed and achieved big alongside everyday people who are achieving aspirational things against the odds. 

This ad caused outrage, leading people to burn Nike items that they owned. However, it also led to a bunch of high-profile celebrities coming out in support of Nike, wearing their clothes, and singing their praises for taking a stance against injustice. This worked out in Nike’s favour and resulted in their stocks rising by 5%.

The Nike ‘Story Marketing’ Playbook

Let’s take a look at some of the key components from these ads that make them effective and how DTC brands can take a leaf out of Nike’s book when creating ads to resonate with their audience. 

Create relatable narratives

Their strategy is never usually about showcasing the product features but creating an immersive narrative that shows what you can go on to achieve by using Nike products. From the overweight kid in ‘The Runner’ ad to the diverse range of people in the ‘Dream Crazy’ ad - we can all see a bit of ourselves in the people they showcase in their marketing. 

Whether that’s you putting on your running shoes to go on your first-ever run or stepping into the gym for the 5th time this week. It’s easy to see a part of you, wherever you are (or have been) in your life. 

These relatable points spark emotion and drive connections to the brand, ultimately resulting in a better response to their products and advertising. 

One brand we love that uses a relatable narrative in its brand and advertising is 47 Skin. For a bit of background… the founder suffered with acne until his grandma came to the rescue with a serum which cleared up his blemishes and acne scars (that’s the short version anyway). 

Now, we understand at face value, this isn’t directly relatable to everyone. However, a story that most can relate to when you strip it back to its bare bones is ‘a loving family member comes to you with a solution to a problem’

Engage through emotional connections

Emotional connections engage and encourage action. 

All of these ads share a common thread, they all tug emotional strings. Be that as overtly as ‘Dream Crazy’ or as subtle as in ‘Revolution’, Nike uses emotional resonance in its storytelling to make sure you actually remember the ad. Stories work, and are remembered because they invoke specific emotions to leave a lasting impact. 

This is a clever tactic by Nike (and tons of other brands) because according to a Harvard Professor, 95% of our purchase decision-making comes from the subconscious mind. How do brands tap into the unconscious mind? Well, the answer is simple, using emotional triggers. Sneaky, sneaky brands.

If you’re putting together a campaign from your brand and need to work out emotional angles you can take in your marketing that is truly going to resonate with your audience - look to your comments and reviews. 

It’s if you’ve got an engaged customer base that’s vocal about their opinions in reviews and comments on your social media then you’re sitting on an absolute treasure trove of first-hand data. Look for common occurrences and themes shared by large chunks of your customers as these are angles that’ll likely resonate with the largest segments. 

Cast a wide net, catch a lot of fish.

Be inclusive and highlight diversity

Nike showcase stories from a range of athletes (as well as non-athletes) from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities. When you have an audience as big as Nike’s it’s important to not pigeonhole yourself to one particular segment of your audience with your advertising but to highlight a range of races, ages, genders and abilities. 

Align with the brand mission

Nike's mission, "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world" is reflected in the majority of the content it puts out. 

Campaigns like ‘Find Your Greatness’ encourage people from all walks of life to believe in themselves and achieve their own personal greatness - regardless of where other peoples standards lie.

Make sure that your advertising ‘feels’ right for your brand and is working towards communicating your brand mission or goal. 

Sell benefits, not features

Notice how most of the ads you saw didn’t actually showcase a product. Weird way of marketing your products, right? 

Nike is in the lucky position now that it doesn’t really have to show off it’s new products in ways that others might due to the sheer size and reputation of the brand. Instead of focusing on the technical aspects of the products (which let’s be honest, are usually quite boring), they focus on the emotional reward as a result of using their product.

By selling the ‘after state’ of using the product, what you can go on to achieve by using the product, or what others have gone on to achieve by using the product - you tap into the aspirations and goals of the customer in a way that simply listing features can’t. It’s much easier to understand a benefit as it’s intrinsic to your life, rather than the intricacies and complexities of features. 

Why storytelling in brand marketing works

Nike has mastered the craft of storytelling in their brand marketing - and their tactic is clearly working as they’re currently valued at just under $30 Billion. But why is telling stories in marketing efforts so important?

Oxford academic lists 3 key reasons why:

  • Emotional connection with your customers helps encourage action. People purchase emotionally and justify rationally. 
  • You build trust and credibility. By telling brand stories you pull back the curtain and expose your key values and what you stand for. 
  • You stand out from the crowd! Telling stories in your marketing can help you stand out in a unique way by using your brand voice.

So go forth, be yourself and tell stories. We tell stories because they work, the keep people engaged, they can be exciting, they make you feel, they make you question things. 

But finally (and most importantly) for all you budding brand owners out there… they make people buy stuff.

If you run an e-commerce brand and are looking for a digital marketing partner to take your business to the next level, please book a call with one of our team here.

Written by Andrew Boardman - Marketing Content Manager

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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A DISCOVERY CALL TODAY!

Master storytellers: How The Nike Storytelling Marketing makes you ‘just do it’

|
Marketing

Ever heard of Michael Jordan? Of course you have. He’s an inspiration. 

He’s widely considered one of the greatest basketball players (and one of the greatest athletes) of all time. His journey began with Nike back in 1984. He was young. He was at the start of his career. His life was about to change. 

Jordan was a rookie looking for sponsorship, hellbent on signing with Adidas. But his parents convinced him to take the risk and take the record-breaking $2.5 million deal with Nike (which was a huge gamble for the company). Luckily for Nike, the gamble paid off. Jordan went on to gain multiple accolades and achievements in his first professional basketball season. 

When Nike launched the AIR Jordan shoe, they designed it in the colours of the Chicago Bulls - the team Jordan played for. This was against the NBA rules. Regulations stated that shoes must be all white so Jordan received a $5000 fine whenever he played in the shoes, and of course, Nike picked up the bill. This did a few things: It made the AIR Jordans stand out, fuelled demand for the shoes, and positioned Nike as a disruptor in a crowded and competitive industry. 

Nike projected earnings from the shoe to hit $3 million in the initial launch year. How much did they actually make? Just shy of $130 million; absolutely smashing projections.

How did they do this? By telling stories. Let’s dig into that a little more…

Nike’s core brand strategy is telling stories

…Or selling stories.

CFO of Nike, Matthew Friend, said: “We need to accelerate our pace of innovation, elevate our marketplace experiences, maximize the impact of our storytelling and increase our speed and responsiveness, all in service of the consumer”

Performance is currently outpacing lifestyle, according to Nike. To stay at the forefront of their market, they need to innovate. To innovate, they need to make money. To make money, (you guessed it) they need to tell (sell) stories. 

Stories form the backbone of Nike's core marketing strategy and brand communication. From global superstars to local legends, Nike’s bread and butter crafting narratives that resonate deeply with their audience - whoever that may be. The under-achiever who wants to achieve great things. The over-achiever trying to push their limit. Professional athletes. Amateur athletes. Mums. Dads. Sons. Daughters. The list goes on. 

Their philosophy of ‘Just Do It’ sits at the heart of all their brand messaging and customer touchpoints. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mammoth goal… or just getting out of bed. Without getting out there to ‘just do it’ you’ll never achieve anything (the main narrative that Nike push in their marketing).

Nike storytelling examples

Let’s take a look at some examples of Nike using storytelling effectively in their marketing and then later in the blog we’ll look into key components that these ads share that make them effective. 

Revolution

 

Nike’s ‘Revolution’ ad was influential for a few reasons. Big hits by huge artists weren’t seen in adverts (probably due to how expensive it was). So having a song by The Beatles soundtracking their ad positioned them as disruptors at the time. Yoko Ono cleared the track for use as she was in control of John Lennon’s estate but the rest of The Beatles tried to sue Nike for $15 million dollars which added a whole new layer and created even more buzz around the ad. 

The Runner

Greatness. It’s just something we made up

This ad is great because it helps to shift the perception of what it means to be great. It shifts focus away from being great at something meaning being ‘the best’. When realistically, greatness is subjective to the individual taking on a specific task. The power behind this ad is the fact that it highlights greatness lies in the personal achievement of an individual and that greatness isn’t out of grasp for anyone. 

How subjective this ad is is what makes it effective. It targets the aspirational segment of their audience by essentially saying ‘Look, if this guy can do it - so can you’. It doesn’t matter what your level of ability is - it’s motivational at its core. This is exactly what Nike set out to do, motivate you to do more. And when the time comes to ‘just do it’ you’ll be scrambling to get your hands on some shiny new white trainers. 

Failure

Even though it’s set to an incredibly cheesy soundtrack - The story Nike is telling here is simple. No one is immune from failure and there is no success without failure. Even the greatest of athletes lose, miss, and fail. Without those failures, he would not be where he is today. 

Dream Crazy

‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything’

This ad features Colin Kaepernick and inspires watchers to ‘dream crazy’. Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem before an NFL game in protest against racial injustice in the US - this cost him his football career. 

Nike then teamed up with Kaepernick for this campaign which highlighted sporting heroes who dreamed and achieved big alongside everyday people who are achieving aspirational things against the odds. 

This ad caused outrage, leading people to burn Nike items that they owned. However, it also led to a bunch of high-profile celebrities coming out in support of Nike, wearing their clothes, and singing their praises for taking a stance against injustice. This worked out in Nike’s favour and resulted in their stocks rising by 5%.

The Nike ‘Story Marketing’ Playbook

Let’s take a look at some of the key components from these ads that make them effective and how DTC brands can take a leaf out of Nike’s book when creating ads to resonate with their audience. 

Create relatable narratives

Their strategy is never usually about showcasing the product features but creating an immersive narrative that shows what you can go on to achieve by using Nike products. From the overweight kid in ‘The Runner’ ad to the diverse range of people in the ‘Dream Crazy’ ad - we can all see a bit of ourselves in the people they showcase in their marketing. 

Whether that’s you putting on your running shoes to go on your first-ever run or stepping into the gym for the 5th time this week. It’s easy to see a part of you, wherever you are (or have been) in your life. 

These relatable points spark emotion and drive connections to the brand, ultimately resulting in a better response to their products and advertising. 

One brand we love that uses a relatable narrative in its brand and advertising is 47 Skin. For a bit of background… the founder suffered with acne until his grandma came to the rescue with a serum which cleared up his blemishes and acne scars (that’s the short version anyway). 

Now, we understand at face value, this isn’t directly relatable to everyone. However, a story that most can relate to when you strip it back to its bare bones is ‘a loving family member comes to you with a solution to a problem’

Engage through emotional connections

Emotional connections engage and encourage action. 

All of these ads share a common thread, they all tug emotional strings. Be that as overtly as ‘Dream Crazy’ or as subtle as in ‘Revolution’, Nike uses emotional resonance in its storytelling to make sure you actually remember the ad. Stories work, and are remembered because they invoke specific emotions to leave a lasting impact. 

This is a clever tactic by Nike (and tons of other brands) because according to a Harvard Professor, 95% of our purchase decision-making comes from the subconscious mind. How do brands tap into the unconscious mind? Well, the answer is simple, using emotional triggers. Sneaky, sneaky brands.

If you’re putting together a campaign from your brand and need to work out emotional angles you can take in your marketing that is truly going to resonate with your audience - look to your comments and reviews. 

It’s if you’ve got an engaged customer base that’s vocal about their opinions in reviews and comments on your social media then you’re sitting on an absolute treasure trove of first-hand data. Look for common occurrences and themes shared by large chunks of your customers as these are angles that’ll likely resonate with the largest segments. 

Cast a wide net, catch a lot of fish.

Be inclusive and highlight diversity

Nike showcase stories from a range of athletes (as well as non-athletes) from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities. When you have an audience as big as Nike’s it’s important to not pigeonhole yourself to one particular segment of your audience with your advertising but to highlight a range of races, ages, genders and abilities. 

Align with the brand mission

Nike's mission, "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world" is reflected in the majority of the content it puts out. 

Campaigns like ‘Find Your Greatness’ encourage people from all walks of life to believe in themselves and achieve their own personal greatness - regardless of where other peoples standards lie.

Make sure that your advertising ‘feels’ right for your brand and is working towards communicating your brand mission or goal. 

Sell benefits, not features

Notice how most of the ads you saw didn’t actually showcase a product. Weird way of marketing your products, right? 

Nike is in the lucky position now that it doesn’t really have to show off it’s new products in ways that others might due to the sheer size and reputation of the brand. Instead of focusing on the technical aspects of the products (which let’s be honest, are usually quite boring), they focus on the emotional reward as a result of using their product.

By selling the ‘after state’ of using the product, what you can go on to achieve by using the product, or what others have gone on to achieve by using the product - you tap into the aspirations and goals of the customer in a way that simply listing features can’t. It’s much easier to understand a benefit as it’s intrinsic to your life, rather than the intricacies and complexities of features. 

Why storytelling in brand marketing works

Nike has mastered the craft of storytelling in their brand marketing - and their tactic is clearly working as they’re currently valued at just under $30 Billion. But why is telling stories in marketing efforts so important?

Oxford academic lists 3 key reasons why:

  • Emotional connection with your customers helps encourage action. People purchase emotionally and justify rationally. 
  • You build trust and credibility. By telling brand stories you pull back the curtain and expose your key values and what you stand for. 
  • You stand out from the crowd! Telling stories in your marketing can help you stand out in a unique way by using your brand voice.

So go forth, be yourself and tell stories. We tell stories because they work, the keep people engaged, they can be exciting, they make you feel, they make you question things. 

But finally (and most importantly) for all you budding brand owners out there… they make people buy stuff.

If you run an e-commerce brand and are looking for a digital marketing partner to take your business to the next level, please book a call with one of our team here.

Written by Andrew Boardman - Marketing Content Manager

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

ARE YOU READY TO

START SERIOUSLY
SCALING YOUR BRAND

We’re already helping 40+ online businesses scale their profits, so now is the perfect time to hop on board. We promise if we don’t improve your current ROI by 23%, we’ll give you your money back.

TAKE OUR QUIZ AND BOOK
A DISCOVERY CALL TODAY!