Nike iPhone application for skateboarders

The digital landscape is changing rapidly, social media is evolving, and brands are beginning to understand both the importance of storytelling and the need to develop channel-specific engagement strategies.

Story + Value + Experience = Consumer Love

It’s not complicated. It’s not even something I developed— all credit goes to Gaston Legorburu and Darren McColl of SapientNitro, as outlined in their seminal book Storyscaping. In a nutshell, Storyscaping makes the case that consumer expectations have shifted, and many brands need to play catch up. The digital landscape is changing rapidly, social media is evolving, and brands are beginning to understand both the importance of storytelling and the need to develop channel-specific engagement strategies. But that isn’t nearly enough.

Brands need to rethink marketing entirely, focusing on how they can add value for consumers — by extending the brand experience, by delivering the unexpected, and by finding ways to become relevant in between transactions. Brands need to develop more meaningful relationships with their target audiences by leveraging technology, and some brands out there are already doing just that. Let’s take a look at how Nike, along with their agency R/GA, tackled a big challenge by innovating in the way they approach building brand equity with new consumers.

Tapping into any new market is difficult for an athletic apparel manufacturer, even a global giant like Nike. When Nike decided that they wanted to get into the skateboarding apparel market, they knew they had to find a way to establish credibility with skateboarders, a strong subculture that has its own lingo. Advertising alone wouldn’t work — even if they recruited skateboarding superstars to become brand ambassadors, they needed to do something original to quickly establish authority in this new market.


While the Nike marketing team might not have read Storyscaping, they certainly employed the formula (story + value + experience) to create a groundbreaking iPhone application for skateboarders, one that lets users learn new tricks, share their tricks, and take part in challenges with other skaters around the world. In order to create the app, Nike and R/GA worked with some of the biggest names in skateboarding, including Paul Rodriguez and Sean Malto, to develop training content for beginners and experienced skaters alike.  But what was truly groundbreaking was the ability to integrate consumers into the content creation process, enabling them to upload their own content, show off their skills, and share their tricks with other skaters around the word.

To create an immersive experience that drives engagement, Nike also integrated gamification into the app. The “Game of S.K.A.T.E.” lets skaters connect with each other anywhere around the globe to compete through the app. Users can also chart their individual progress and share content from Nike SB with their friends via social networks including Facebook and Twitter. Nike also leverages Nike SB-generated content across branded channels, including YouTube and Facebook.  This creates a richer Storyscape where the focus is on the users, not product — that is a key ingredient in the formula of “story + value + experience”.

While Nike certainly isn’t the first brand to build a useful app that actually creates value for consumers, they did deliver the unexpected and created something incredibly well received by the skateboarding community, or at least skaters with iPhones. Nike could certainly extend this experience to Android and drive even more brand engagement.

This is just one example of what’s possible. Think about your company— how can you create value for your brand by leveraging the Storyscaping formula when developing an application? It doesn’t matter if you’re in the consumer market or the B2B space. You don’t have to break the bank to develop something as engaging as the Nike SB app; in fact, most applications don’t need to be as sophisticated at first release.

Today, your ability to build stronger relationships with your audience is limited only by your willingness to invest and your creativity.

About Mikah Sellers

Mikah serves as an industry advisor to First Line Software. His other roles include SVP at Grafik, DC’s go-to branding agency, and CMO & CTO for Carsquare, one of DC’s hottest tech startups. In adiditon, Mikah serves as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University where he teaches a variety of courses in marketing and technology, and an outside advisor to several DC area startups.

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