Third & GroveThird & Grove
Mar 3, 2021 - Justin Emond

Effective Brand Storytelling With Shopify

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There’s a powerful lesson that retailers in all categories can learn from leading Shopify merchants like Allbirds, Gymshark, Lindt, and Bombas: The key to a successful digital commerce strategy is authentic brand storytelling that aligns with the core interests of their buying audience.

But how, exactly, do you create that brand storytelling? There are many resources you can turn to for strategic guidance: Made to Stick, a biography of Steve Jobs, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits by Seth Godin, Passion and Purpose by John Coleman and W Oliver Gulati, and Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler, to name just a few. 

But this post isn’t about broad brand strategy; it’s about how to activate brand storytelling online, to sell in a post-COVID world, with the leading e-commerce platform for growth brands: Shopify Plus.

Let’s look then at the favorite tactics we use with our clients to execute in 2021:

Go beyond the quiz: Solving the educational puzzle

There’s no shortage of successful product finders out there. You can take a cue from how the best brands execute quizzes, but an effective, guided selling experience is more than that. They are built on authentic advocacy and assistance to your prospective customers. A product finder is meant to help the user find what they need, not what you want to sell. 

Like most things in retail, this idea is simple to understand but hard to commit to.

Example: Personalized vitamin company Care/of does a terrific job of educating prospective buyers through guided selling:


Product first, product last
The possibilities are endless on a product detail page (PDP), and every stakeholder at your brand has skin in the game on the damn template. The thing everyone forgets about the “here be dragons” warning is that those that can deftly navigate past these dangers will find a new world of plenty.

Yes, you need to talk about the brand, and the story, and the customer on the PDP. And you should. But the product can’t get lost amid all that information. It has to shine above all else.

The most effective brands on Shopify allow their audiences to fully immerse themselves in the product, how it’s made, what it contains, how to use it, and when they’ll see the benefits.

Check out how Boost effectively balances its brand storytelling while giving primacy to key pieces of product information that buyers will find compelling:


Trust sells
You can file this in the “obviously” file, but it’s important to note that 59% of customers prefer to purchase new products from the brands that they trust1. But how do you build trust? Keep in mind that ethics (read: the values you and your customers share) are more important to building trust in your brand than product competence. Transparency is the quickest hack to building trust2.

Trust starts with a great product. But it’s more than that. You need to showcase expertise beyond the sale, bolstering a community of fans that feel better every time they stop by.

Australian brand WelleCo leverages thoughtful dispassion to educate and sell on its blog, called “The Journal:” 


Use social proof
We all like to think of ourselves as independently-minded, but study after study has confirmed that in a variety of situations, we look to our peers, those around us, for cues as to how to behave. Social proof is why most people will line up at the deli counter at the grocery store and why otherwise law-abiding citizens will riot and loot.

Reviews are important: 45% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase. But social proof takes many forms. Use a combination of reviews, social content, and curated inspiration to foster a community of advocates for your products to encourage buying.

A keen understanding of the major cognitive miswirings in human brains is absolutely critical for any Shopify merchant and marketer to understand. The book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini is a must-read book on this topic. 

Glossier is a master at social proof selling:


Find and bring joy
The folks behind Yeti could run a masterclass in brand storytelling. Just one example: When the pandemic started, Yeti launched a “Streaming” service featuring live feeds from streams. 

Find unique ways to support your customers in your product space.

The Yeti calming live video fees: 


Personalize to inspire
Some 80% of consumers3 say they are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences. Tailoring a message or product where it matters most is powerful enough, but ensuring that this personalized experience aligns with your brand story will get you the most bang for your buck.

Not only is an anonymous younger female visitor shown cute boots, but they are presented with the lifestyle photography that the consumer is really looking for:

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2. 78% of consumers trust brands that are transparent with their customers
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