How Video and a New App Helped Joann Fabrics Reinvent Its Brand Identity

When you think of innovation in an industry, what do you think of? A new breakthrough, a spotlight product, an exciting way to access content?

Now, what do you think of when you think of Joann Fabrics? Here’s my guess: the green logo, sterile white walls that absolutely scream creativity (not!), and unpainted wooden shapes and letters. Perhaps I’m being a little unfair. You might just think, “It’s a craft store.”

Not anymore. Or at least, Joann Fabrics, now just JOANN, hopes to shift your impressions with their new digital marketing campaign focused on bringing the brand into the 21st century. And more importantly, shifting the way users purchase their products. JOANN’s new marketing goal launched in August and hopes “to inspire you and find inspiration for making things with our hands, hearts and minds. “ This sentiment is capped off with a video that’ll even move the hearts of those with no interest in crafting.

The most interesting part of JOANN’s brand revitalization, however, is their new app update.

Bringing JOANN’s stores into the easily accessible online shopping space of mobile apps is a no brainer. There are a myriad of shopping apps from Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc, but it’s the interactive element of the JOANN app that has my attention.

Users with a free JOANN account are now able to create and share photo and video tutorials in the app with other users using the “How-To” tab. The process is as easy as tapping, entering in a few description fields, and beginning to shoot your photo and videos. Once you’re finished, you can edit the entire video in-app, adding music and captions as you see fit.

While I could level some complaints against this feature, I think it’s a fantastic step in the right direction for user engagement and app integration. Being able to search for crafting ideas in a crafting store app is a great idea as is, but the built-in shopping lists that allow you to add items from the tutorials you view is extraordinary. The app itself is effectively crafting meets Instagram with added buying power.

As of right now, many tutorials were created by JOANN for the platform, offering interesting ideas with videos containing slightly higher production value than you’d expect. That said, it all seems to be shot in-app, which I can appreciate. Modelling the way an ideal video can be on a platform without overshadowing users is a good thing.

So, Matt, you’re thinking, I read your 500-word essay on a craft store, so what’s the point here? That’s a fair question, reader, and to that, I offer you this: you don’t have to flood consumers with videos hoping for engagement. It might be easier to just put the tools in the hands of the users. This all depends on your industry, of course, but JOANN’s tactic makes sense. Pinterest is a full of eye-catching visual crafts and viral videos of different DIY projects make the rounds on Facebook newsfeeds all of the time. JOANN merely cuts out the middle-man by having everything in-app with purchases only a swipe away.

These social and video editing features are a perfect fit for the brand, and I’m surprised other craft store brands haven’t done this sooner. There are always going to be people wanting to create DIY projects so putting everything at your fingertips is big. Depending on the success of the app, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other brands in other industries picking up this idea. The cooking industry, in particular, would be excellent for this type of user-to-user interaction.

Not every business is going to be able to have an app with built-in editing software, of course, but most people have phones or computers with easy access to basic tools. Using hashtags or small incentivized contests may work in place of an all encompassing app. Encouraging users to create and post their own content to social media isn’t an easy suggestion, but it might be a step in the right direction for your brand.

I’ll leave you with this: think of the fundamentals of your industry and your consumers. Then, formulate the easiest way for your users to engage and interact with your brand. Finally, think of the possibilities of consumer to consumer interaction.


Matt McGrorty was born and raised in South Jersey. While pursuing a BA from Rider University, cultivated his passion for both hands-on audio and video storytelling. During his free time, Matt enjoys playing card games and watching reruns of “The X-Files.”

Matt McGrorty

Videographer / Podcaster

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