retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There is a terrific piece in Fast Company Design that plays right to the MNB “sweet spot” - comparing great retail to the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Here’s how the magazine frames the issue:

“By now, most of us get the message--we need to consider the entire customer journey, the complete experience, surrounding the products and services we offer to customers.

“But in this frenetic, multitasking, app-happy society, how do you prepare people to pay attention in the first place, let alone get actively involved in your carefully planned customer journey?

“As brands aspire to create deeper connections with an endlessly distracted consumer, storytelling in design has become ever more crucial. And to get it right, we might as well borrow (i.e., steal) ideas from those who know best--our friends in show business. How do great plays and movies prepare their audiences for their stories? How do they prime us all to be engaged regardless of what mood we are in? It’s simple: with an overture. Great brand experiences do exactly the same thing.”

And here is where Raiders of the Lost Ark comes in:

“In the movie world, great opening scenes perform the same function as musical overtures. The opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark is a great example. It’s a 13-minute masterpiece of storytelling, despite the fact that what happens is completely independent of the actual storyline of the rest of the film. However, the scripted storyline is really not what the movie is about ... The opening sequence functions as an overture that funnels a broad audience through a narrowly defined, intense tunnel of experience, training them on the rules of this particular world, and then expands again into the main thread of the actual storyline. Once the entire audience has been on that wonderful opening ride, they are all on the same thematic page, no matter how they entered the theater. That’s the goal we should all aim for as designers of brand experiences.”

Fast Company Design offers six “secrets” to Raiders-style branding, and you can read all about them here. But here is my favorite, just as a taste:

Know what your story is about, not just what happens. This is the most important thing to figure out, and also the most difficult. It’s similar to the difference between your product and your brand. The product is what your company sells, but the brand is what your company is about. You must know this inside and out in order to encapsulate the brand and communicate it effectively from the beginning.”

This should not be an Eye-Opener, but for many retailers, it will be. (The best retailers know it, and are vigilant about it.)
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