By Mylena Vazquez
When it comes to storytelling marketing, no one does it better than Kiel James Patrick. For his namesake brand, Kiel James Patrick has harnessed the full power of social media to craft a world all his own.
When the goal is to connect with your audience, the most important factor is establishing a personal relationship with them. And there is nothing more personal than a compelling protagonist with which the audience can identify and upon which they can project their aspirations and dreams.
For Kiel James Patrick, the man and the brand are inseparable.
Real, relatable, and down-to-earth
Though Patrick is known for posting photos of him and his wife at ritzy New Years Eve parties and high-end seaside hotels, he was not born with a silver spoon in mouth. Patrick grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, and is from a working-class family; his father was a police detective and his mother is a schoolteacher. He started his brand by selling handmade rope bracelets and resewn vintage blazers and ties out of the trunk of his trunk in his high school parking lot. And though his Instagram feed is glamorous and carefully curated, Patrick always speaks proudly of his and his company’s origin story.
When his business grew large enough to open a factory, Patrick decided that headquarters would be not in a high-rise in New York, not even in a warehouse loft in Providence, his state’s capital, but in a former auto body shop in Pawtucket. Pawtucket, only the fourth-largest city in Rhode Island, has strong blue-collar roots and was once the center of the textile manufacturing industry. At just over $50,000, the median household income is well below the national average, and the city has a predominantly minority population, at 51.8%. By choosing to house the KJP factory in a real, working-class neighborhood with such a rich history, Patrick wove a narrative of authenticity, one that joined the blue-collar heritage of the city and that of himself and his own company. More importantly, he showed his audience that he is one of them.
Epitome of the American Dream
Not only is Kiel James Patrick relatable, his rise to fame and fortune is profoundly aspirational. Though his pieces are inspired by the preppy style found on Ivy League campuses, Kiel James Patrick did not even go to college, much less an Ivy. His wife and KJP co-founder, Sarah Vickers, graduated from the University of Rhode Island, a state school. Both of them come from modest means. This sort of “rags-to-riches” story is a key part of their marketing strategy and has had a huge impact on the company’s appeal. Spending summers at one of the historic Great Camps might not be accessible to most people, but a $98 KJP Adirondack sweater gives you the feeling that you are right there in the mountains with Patrick and his crew. Kiel James Patrick gives regular people permission to not only dress like the upper-crust, but also feel that they, like Patrick, have the ability to achieve their own American Dream.
KJP radiates joy
The most important aspect of the Kiel James Patrick approach to connecting with an audience is that both the company and its founder stir up feelings of happiness and excitement. There is a sense of magic inherent in Kiel James Patrick marketing; his brand and his life give off the feeling of being set in a New England version of Disney World. He shares his life with his audience, taking them along on all of his family’s adventures, many of them right in his own backyard, both metaphorically and literally. By doing so, he is not only able to form a more personal connection with his audience, but incidentally also persuade them to buy his products to feel like they are stepping into his (dancing) shoes.
All components of storytelling must, of course, be compelling. But for a brand to reach the goal of connecting with its audience, having a hero to follow, champion, and emulate is crucial. With this in place, the rest—and success—is sure to follow.
Are there any brands that revolve around a central figure with whom you really identify?