Content is king, and always will be. Not matter how many algorithmic cheats or keyword hacks find their way into the marketing toolbox, meaningful and relevant content will always be the biggest influence in how you separate yourself from the rest.
That being said, your content should be meaningful to both your customer or audience AND your brand. So, at the risk of a bit of an oversimplification, there are two questions that should be at the root of your content creation process:
How does this content help or enlighten my audience?
Does it impact my audience's relationship with my brand?
That second one is where you have your own back. You're thinking about your best interest and what you need from the content, which is not a bad thing! So don't feel guilty.
Stylizing your content is a great way to make sure that your relationship with your audience is impacted for the better. You can get so bogged down with all the technicalities of SEO and algorithmic priority that you forget the human on the receiving end of your content. Getting it in front of them is great, but if it doesn't stick with them, it's a missed opportunity.
So let's look at three distinct ways style points can still help you win over your audience and elevate them from a passive interested party to a bonafide brand advocate.
1 - Style Identifies Your Content
I'm sure your logo is fantastic. It's a complete stunner that draws in countless clients just by the look of it. But is it always necessary?
It doesn't have to be. And if you've built out your brand aesthetic thoroughly, the elements that make your logo recognizable can still exist without the literal appearance of it.
Take this ad design by Lee Taylor in working with Coca-Cola on their experiential marketing rebrand.
Notice the traditional logo is nowhere on this design, yet you still know exactly what you're looking at. The simplicity of their iconic color scheme and shape of their product make the association for you.
In doing that, Coca-Cola has taken ownership over so much more than their name, and bring about a subconscious connection that we as the audience make on their behalf. There's no spoon-feeding necessary.
And I bet this makes you crave a coke more than the words do.
2 - Style Demands Attention
Content marketing is effective. There's just no denying that. In fact, it has become so trusted and utilized that 93% of content marketers say they use it in their strategy according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)
The problem, then, becomes how flooded consumers are with content. If every brand dumps so many resources into creating and distributing content, then getting that coveted like or click becomes incredibly difficult.
Enter your specific style.
When your content is presented in a way that is attractive and unique, you gain a competitive edge that grabs attention over other attempts to share similar information.
Working with ADV Fabworks LLC, we ran with the concept of style in a project that you see very commonly - Employee Profiles.
Their willingness to take a concept that could have been run-of-the-mill and infuse it with a sense of style that captures the work environment allowed us to create a three-dimensional product that stands out. As a result, their social media following across numerous channels saw a major spike in following.
While it may seem like a risk, this immediately created separation for the brand. They became the fabrication shop that had flare. That appeal worked for them, and has since carved out a specific place for them in their market.
And the best part was that it was honest. This wasn't an act or something new that they had to change to fit. It has been their culture all along. They just allowed it to be a part of their marketing strategy.
3 - Style Familiarizes Your Experience
The fear of the unknown is one of the heaviest factors in human decision making. The lengths we will go to avoid doing something with an uncertain outcome is staggering.
The odds of being killed by a shark attack are roughly 1 in 3.75 million. As in, you're more likely to die by lightning strike.
But I bet the ocean scares you a bit, doesn't it?
That all comes down to the fact that you can't see what's down there or control what will come up when you jump in. However irrational that may be, it's how we are wired.
The same is true for a consumer when deciding on who to go with for a service or what brand to buy from. They gravitate toward who and what they know. And with your digital footprint, you now have the means to make that connection for them and give them a taste of that experience so they know what to expect when working with you.
Check out this recent tweet from Wendy's:
They do an excellent job of personifying their brand and creating a comfortable, culturally-aware atmosphere in their marketing. Using this lighthearted tone, they put forth an expectation for customers walking into their storefronts.
In fact, they've found so much success with this that they've leveraged it in their market position relative to competitors. Their notorious Twitter roasts are incredibly creative and useful in pushing a perception that customers can be comfortable with and supportive of.
They've found so much success with that tactic that the #NationalRoastDay hashtag has essentially become synonymous with their brand, and other major brands line up to ask to be roasted by them.
All of that to say that they've used a sense of style in their content to familiarize us with their culture and the environment we can expect with them. That makes us much more comfortable buying from them because we know what to expect.
With the competition you can expect to have in jumping into the content marketing space, style isn't just an option. It's a must. The opportunities to be missed by blending in are way too abundant.
Don't be afraid of transparency, because customers want to know you. They don't want to interact with a facade. And in fact, most content algorithms have become increasingly tailored to filter out false perceptions and practices. So if your content isn't true to who you are, then you're losing out in more ways than you realize.
Embrace the risk of allowing style to be a part of your content strategy. In the end, it's not a risk at all. Trust in your brand will benefit, your marketability will flourish and your brand advocates will skyrocket.
Style points still work. A lot. So use them.