If there’s one goal building products brands are seeking to accomplish — or at least should be — it’s to stand out from the competition.
Rather than, getting lost in the “sea of sameness.”
The challenge continues to be, is that there often isn’t much “new” or “different” these days… especially in the home improvement showroom or retail space.
Take away the logos and color schemes, and — from an audience’s point-of-view — is it really possible to appreciate the difference between say The Home Depot and Lowe’s?
The Home Depot surely knows this. And they understand that there is one asset that sets them apart… their people. More specifically, their people’s stories.
The Home Depot has just launched a video series called Behind the Apron, which can be accessed on their corporate newsroom… as well as on their YouTube channel.
Through the series, the “big box” home improvement brand celebrates the individual stories of their retail associates — the people who wear the orange aprons — who are there to help contractors and their homeowners, find what they need.
The idea is brilliant in its simplicity. The Home Depot employs about a half million apron-clad associates in its stores across North America. Every single one of those individuals has a unique story to tell.
The retailer understands they’re sitting on a gold mine of content marketing potential. And it appears they’re starting to leverage its potential.
One of the installments tells the story of Kevin, who came to the United States to escape the political unrest in Haiti. Another focuses on Angie, a single mother who struggled to care for one of her children who was very ill.
The videos not only tell the story of the individual associates, but how The Home Depot helped them get through difficult situations. The series reflects the retailer’s values. And their approach to how they recruit, inspire and treat their associates.
What makes the Behind the Apron series work… is the emotional storytelling of the videos. They are short biographies of each individual. Demonstrating to the viewer — that there are real human beings behind the orange aprons — to be found uniquely there, during the in-store purchase experience.
This extends far beyond what one expects from a building product or service. They don’t talk about drills or lumber or windows. They just focus on authentic people. Perhaps who are all a bit like you and me. And that’s what their target audience — any target audience — responds to.
So, who is their target audience for this series? And what channels of promotion are they leveraging to reach those audiences? That magic strategy may reveal itself… but we see this campaign as a strong employer brand-building initiative.
Attracting and training employees is a never-ending process, and this video series makes a strong case for working at The Home Depot.
And one of the best ways a brand can get the attention of their target customers is through telling the stories of their front line — forward facing team members.
Even Allstate reminds us that we’re “in good hands” with their insurance professionals. The Home Depot’s latest initiative does this in a way we think really works.
That said, they may have missed an opportunity.
Leveraging the Potential
This series has the potential to reach a much wider audience of building product purchasers. That’s because the stories are so unexpected, emotional and gripping… it’s impossible not to pay attention.
And attention is what home improvement brands like The Home Depot want more than anything.
But that does lead us to what we feel is a missed opportunity. And in marketing-speak, that is frequency. Or lack thereof.
As of this writing, there are only three episodes in the Behind the Apron series. Each episode feels like a mini documentary, with very high production values. While this makes the videos visually stunning, it also makes them more difficult and more expensive to produce. And therefore, more time-consuming.
We believe the series would benefit from a higher frequency — why not weekly — which could be accomplished by reducing the production value, costs and time. That would give The Home Depot an opportunity to reach a larger audience.
And, in the process… increase the authenticity of the branding.
When considering how the Behind the Apron series sets The Home Depot apart from the competition, the question arises about the competition’s ability to replicate it.
You’ve likely thought about how to leverage a similar strategy for your own building product brand.
Couldn’t Lowe’s easily duplicate this initiative? After all, they have many thousands of employees, too. Whose stories are no less compelling that those of The Home Depot’s associates.
But what would differentiate the hypothetical Lowe’s campaign — aside from the unique spin they put on it — are the employees’ stories themselves.
That’s what makes human-centered, emotional storytelling so powerful. It gives nearly any company the ability to reach their customers with compelling messages that command attention.
It’s critically important for Behind the Apron to maintain a measured — and fast pace — to celebrate this potential branding gold mine.
The orange-colored branded aprons.
And to host enough of those seamlessly, trained heroes “on the floor” — to actually make the purchase experience there — as intimate as the videos.
All brands have stories to tell and video is the perfect medium for telling them. If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage video for your building product brand, click here.