Kara Goldin, the founder and CEO of Hint Water, turned an idea that struck her one day at the kitchen table into a $150 million a year business.
Along the way to building a popular lifestyle brand, Goldin discovered the power of storytelling to grab attention and attract loyal customers.
“It’s really important to bring your personal story into the brand identity,” Goldin told me during a recent conversation about her new book, Undaunted. “People associate the brand with a human being and that person’s story. It adds tremendous meaning and value.”
The Hint story began in 2005 with a simple idea: to make water that tastes good.
After leaving a demanding role at AOL, Goldin felt unhealthy. She was overweight, had low energy, and developed adult acne. She had been drinking diet soda for years—8 to 10 cans a day—without giving it a second thought. One day she noticed that the soda had thirty ingredients. Goldin decided to experiment. She replaced diet coke with plain water.
“In two-and-half weeks, I had lost 24 pounds,” Goldin told me. “My skin skin cleared up and my energy returned.”
The only obstacle to continuing her new habit was the fact that she found water to be, well, boring. Goldin stumbled upon a simple solution. She sliced up fruit and dropped it into the water to improve its taste.
Goldin soon discovered that she couldn’t find unsweetened fruit-infused water in a bottle. The category didn’t exist.
In that moment, Hint was born. Goldin turned a quick and simple solution to a health problem into a product which has grown into a healthy lifestyle brand.
In September, 2010, Goldin shared her story on a CNBC program called “How I Made My Millions.”
After the program aired, Goldin was sitting near a pool when a woman approached her to ask about the water she was drinking. The woman didn’t recognize Kara from the segment, but she remembered the product and the story.
According to Goldin, storytelling is a way for startups and entrepreneurs to stand out. “Beyond the brand promise, consumers want to know who is behind the brand,” says Goldin. “Consumers really gravitate toward the story because they want to understand what they’re buying into.”
Goldin majored in communication at Arizona State University and spent part of her career working in the media and magazine industry. She instinctively understands the power of an authentic founder’s story to create a stronger connection between a product and its consumers.
In the food and beverage industry, storytelling was named the top “product trend” of 2020. One survey found that 56% of consumers globally said stories around a brand influence their purchase decision.
Stories can explain how a product is sourced, how it started, who’s behind it, and how the brand lives improves people’s lives and the communities it serves.
“One reason that Hint became so popular in Silicon Valley is the founder story….people love to connect with a brand with a real human being, especially if the person has an interesting and authentic personal narrative that directly relates to the product,” Goldin writes in her book.
Your customers don’t just buy a product; they buy into the story behind the product.
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Photo Credit: Forbes/Hint Chris Andre