Sock Club Story Marketing

I thought I’d do my family a favor and email them my Christmas list this year.

Yep, one of the items was socks. I got my first pair yesterday from the Sock Club. And the added gift was the story that arrived with them.

I knew it was smart story marketing when I dove into the accompanying letter.

Welcome to 2017! This year, we aim to continue innovating, and as we designed our first sock of the year, we were inspired by one of the original innovators. Daedalus was the finest craftsman, artist, and architect from Greek Mythology. One of the most remarkable things about him was his ability to strive forward through his failures and learn from them.

We hope to inspire others to embrace failure, continuing to push through it to find the most creative solutions possible, whatever the situation. This month’s sock design was inspired by one of Daedalus’ most renowned creations: the labyrinth. Here’s to finding a lovely path through the maze of life in 2017!

I thought the story of Daedalus was a nice unexpected touch, raising the sock from just an article of clothing to a manifesto of sorts for kicking off the new year in a fun way.

What do you think this brand story is worth? How much added value does this story marketing bring to the socks?

Click on the image to learn Sock Club’s story marketing secrets from their creative director, Melissa Huisman, and co-founder, Noah Lee, on the Business of Story podcast.

The value prop in story marketing

The Significant Objects Project, a literary and anthropological study on eBay, demonstrated that a story can increase the subjective value of even a mundane item by roughly 30 percent. During the experiment, they sold 100 items of thrift-store junk worth $128.74 for $3,612.51 resulting in an ROI of 27.06

“Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively,” said the founders of the project, Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker.

And these were fictitious stories that simply accompanied each item. How much more powerful is it when the story inspires the creation of the item? How much more intrinsic value does it bring to the brand?

I was so intrigued by the story of Daedalus that I had do more research this morning, all thanks to my new socks.

Daedalus crafting wings for his son Icarus.

Daedalus crafting wings for his son Icarus.

I learned that Daedalus was the father of Icarus, the young man who flew too close to the sun melting his wings and dropping him into the sea where he perished.

Mythology has it that Daedalus, after the loss of his son, lamented his talents as an artisan. To soothe his pain, the goddess Athena visited Daedalus and gave him wings, telling him to fly like a god.

This, I presume, is what the Sock Club was suggesting when they encouraged us to embrace failure to find the most creative solutions possible in 2017.

Although I wish they had shared a bit more of the Icarus story to provide context for their encouragement.

Then, in a daring bit of storytelling where they introduced Daedalus’ most renowned creation, the labyrinth, the Sock Club tip toed into the potential maze of mixed metaphors.

The minotaur in the labyrinth

The minotaur in the labyrinth

The story of Daedalus and the invention of the Labyrinth on Crete that corralled the Minotaur (part man, part bull) is epic on its own. It was here that the Athenian hero Theseus is challenged to kill the Minotaur, finding his way with the help of Ariadne’s thread.

This was the inspiration for the Sock Club’s sock-of-the-month design and sentiment: “Here’s to finding a lovely path through the maze of life in 2017!”

This myth could’ve been the focus of the storytelling for this pair of socks leaving Icarus for another month.

Suffice to say I’m delighted by the Sock Club going that extra step to imbue its product with a higher level of meaning through narrative.

Using story to elevate your brand out of the primordial muck of commoditization doesn’t take a lot of time, energy or money. In fact, it’s about the least expensive way to create immense value for your product or service.

Significant Objects Project proved it.

The Sock Club is making narrative fashionable. And I’m looking forward to slipping into my next pair of story socks.


About Park Howell 

Park Howell is a trusted brand story strategist, sought-after speaker on story marketing, and is the professor of storytelling in the Executive Masters of Sustainability Leadership at Arizona State University.

He has helped international brands, including Coca Cola, Beyer Pharmaceutical, Cummins Diesel, American Express, and United States Air Force. The Business of Story podcast is a widely popular and helps brands connect with customers and achieve epic growth. Contact Park to have him speak at your company event or conference.