Effective storytelling lesson from the brand that makes my stomach hurt
I’m lactose intolerant.
That means many beloved dairy products — milk, white cheeses, ice-cream, whipped cream, etc. — give my stomach fits.
Uncomfortable, painful fits.
So, I tend to avoid consuming or buying brands that specialize in lactose-laden foodstuffs.
Noosa. It makes yogurt. And I love it.
It’s creamy. It’s milky. It’s packed with flavor. And it makes my stomach gurgle.
But I persevere. It’s because I like Noosa’s story. A lot. And I like the story because it makes me — and probably other fans — feel special (bear with me).
Named for the Australian resort town that’s home to one of its co-founders, Noosa has about 30 different flavors of yogurt ranging from banana chocolate peanut to pumpkin, peach and pineapple. The company started in 2009 when Koel Thomae came across her first tub of creamy yoghurt (that’s how it’s spelled in Australia) and passion fruit puree. She was hooked, the company says on its website, and joined forces with Colorado dairy farmer Rob Graves, a milk-making expert (yes, those exist).
And yes again, the primary ingredient is whole milk — a veritable white liquid grenade for anyone unable to digest lactose. But I guarantee you I’ll buy it during my next big grocery store run.
Why torture myself this way? For science.
Everything about Noosa’s story is meant to ensure its customers that they’re not just eating any old regular yogurt. They’re eating something classier. Tastier. Even friendlier.
It accomplishes this in three key ways.
1) The website: It’s colorful, playful and wistfully entertaining. Heck, even the fonts are fun. The writing has a conversational cadence but doesn’t overshadow the graphics, photos and videos. There’s an endearing video of Rob Graves petting his cows (a much more wholesome experience than how I’ve described it here), and visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at how the yogurt is produced.
2) “The Noosa Way”: Noosa doesn’t just stir fruit, milk and cream together and call it yogurt. Its creamy creations endure 36 rigorous quality assurance tests to ensure the product is perfect. It’s called the “Noosa Way” — a quality control process the company’s branded. Noosa wants you to know about it because it sends a powerful message to consumers: Noosa cares about the yogurt, and it cares about you. Noosa doesn’t do things the good-enough way; Noosa goes above and beyond. Trust Noosa. Buy Noosa.
3) The values system: While I’m no environmentalist, even I appreciate Noosa’s use of recycled boxes to ship its product, and its work to repurpose shredded boxes into animal bedding at horse farms, vet schools and zoos. The company is strictly anti-GMO, and partners with the Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting honey bees, which are going extinct (BTW, Noosa uses honey in its yogurt so the company’s invested in keeping the bees alive). I'd imagine these values jibe with the same beliefs and principles as many of its customers.
The takeaway: When I eat a tub of Noosa (yes, a tub), I don’t feel like I’m just eating yogurt (a pretty boring product to brand, if you ask me). I feel like I’m eating something luxurious, specially-made and, somehow, a bit more responsible. It feels healthier than other yogurt brands (whether it actually is or not is up for debate), it definitely tastes better and it appears to care about its customers.
Noosa wants me to feel these things and went through a lot of creative endeavoring to make it happen. That's the endgame for a good brand storyteller.
A powerful brand story has the power to make customers feel something (usually, that "something" is not a stomach ache). It establishes connection and helps find common ground.
Even if what you’re selling seems boring, find a way to give it some meaning. Your customers will eat it up (see what I did there?).