For modern commerce companies, there is a lot of pressure to be more than just a simple purveyor of goods. An expectation that is perhaps most acutely seen in the choice of many brands to build a blog.
But this is not a task to be undertaken lightly - a brand’s blog can have as much effect on how they are viewed by their customers as the items they sell or the site they do it on.
If done right, your blog is a place where you can build relationships with shoppers, show brand personality and position your stock in an aspirational and inspiring way.
And with more and more companies throwing down the content gauntlet there are some truly amazing ones out there - brands we would all do well to look and learn from.
Here are three of my favorite:
If you are a man of the facially furry variety, then these guys are for you. Not only do they sell an impressive array of beard care products (I’ll be honest, before stumbling upon their website I would have thought a “soft goat pad” was something for livestock to sleep on), but they put the same amount of care into creating them as they do daily grooming routines.
Want an example of a brand that have owned their subject? Then this is it. This blog contains everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, you could want to know about beards - including grooming guides, videos and much, much more. Effectively BeardBrand identify the areas within their specialist subject that their customers might have problems and then go on to solve them. They then identify problems within their specialist subject that their customers didn't even know they had and solve those too. Which brings us onto our second point…
Using their blog, BeardBrand effectively create the needs for their own product. If you thought growing facial hair was just a case of stepping away from the razor then you were wrong. By highlighting the care needed to achieve perfectly formed face fuzz they drive demand for their products and their business.
Stepping away from the self-serving:
As is often the case with great brand blogs they don’t stop at product related pieces - while a blog is many ways an ideal place to showcase your pieces (especially from interesting angles, i.e. behind the scenes) if you do that for too long shoppers will very quickly see through you and head elsewhere. Beardbrand keep this in mind, going on to tackle the much wider life issues that their hunky/hairy clientele may face. Examples include fitness posts, fashion and even love life. Essentially, they create an aspirational brand that embodies what they see their customers as wanting to be- the hairy, fashionable, fit guy with a great sex life.
Putting a face to it:
A relatable brand is a great thing but, as we all know, it is impossible to relate to a brand, however well-crafted, as much as you would an actual person. Which is why BeardBrand are clever in their use of their blog to share articles directly from their founder. Another nice touch of the BeardBrand voice is that they have a whole section with articles from their founder (who, of course, has A+ facial hair) - in doing so they create a likable face (or half a face, seeing as some of it is covered) to represent their company. Think of him as the Steve Jobs of face fuzz.
Maker of smoothies, juices, flavored waters and other healthy beverages that will tickle your taste buds without an accompanying sense of guilt. These guys make drinks that pack both a flavor and vitamin punch. Their blog has been going since 2006, which in the digital age, is basically forever - making them veterans at the blogging game.
Innocent are a great brand for copy, with a voice that is not only consistent but funny and endearingly. Usually it is found in tantalizing but enjoyable snippets - on packaging or making quips on social media - so it is no surprise that with the opportunity to write longer form, their personality continues to shine.
The power of random
With both BeardBrand we saw carefully constructed posts, on subjects in line with their brand. And they were great. But Innocent take quite a different approach. That isn't to say they're sloppy - they are anything but. What they are, however, is completely and delightfully random. Like anecdotal stories from a desk mate at work. A personal favorite of mine was the pancake topic piece (see below).
But even in their randomness there is a purpose - to create a little space of the internet where their customers can go to waste five minutes (something that is mimicked by the "Bored?" section of their website).
Show what is at your core:
We've already seen the Innocent blog reflecting the playful nature of their brand but there is something that this company is serious about; the power of good. In fact, the Innocent promise is "Tastes good. Does good". And what better space to highlight that they are true to their word than in the blog? Which is exactly what Innocent do.
There are posts about the Big Knit (their campaign to raise money for Age UK), the Innocent foundation (which puts 10% of their profits aside for charity each year) and even pieces about smaller gestures, such as their attempts to get to know their office neighbors. This is a great example of a company showing the world that they they care, one blog post at a time.
An American multi-brand, multi-channel, fashion store stocking stylish pieces for men, women and children. This is a company to which you come for a polished look and high-quality pieces.
Showing another perspective
J.Crew are far from a bargain basement brand - they sell quality, not quantity and their blog is the perfect place for them to show why you should pay that little bit more. One of the ways they do this is with “behind the design” pieces which highlight the much thought and work that goes into individual items they stock.
While this works to the advantage of the brand, it also serves those conscious customers who place a high importance on where their goods are coming from, as well as providing an interesting and alternative perspective on the normally polished, ready-to-wear impression of the fashion industry.
Humanizing the fashion world
It is not just physical items that JCrew choose to give an alternative perspective on, but also interesting members of the fashion industry - telling their stories and giving insights into their personal styles. By doing this they humanize what can be a very product lead business, as well as demonstrating the relationships they hold and their ability to give you exclusive insider peeks.
Showing you how to put your best fashion foot forward
The posts mentioned above work because they take a different approach to the normal trend pieces we see on many fashion blogs, but JCrew know that you shouldn't forget the basics. Customers come here because they are interested in clothes and how to wear them and so they mix up their industry insider pieces and interviews with instructional trend based posts - showing that it is variety that is the spice of life.
So, there we have it - three brands with kick-ass blogs. Take their lessons in the content and go forth and be great!
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