We are visual creatures. We respond to faces, images, and pictures, much more readily than we do any other type of information. As such, I’d argue that mastering visual content and design is the key to content marketing success.
So who’s doing it well? Here are ten brands/people/groups that I think have a solid brand (content) strategy and drive it home with great visual interaction that generates revenue. Please note, the brands/sites are not listed in rank order – they’re all fabulous at visual content marketing within their respective channels.
#1 – Grammarly Cards (Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram)
I don’t know too many people who love grammar, proofreading, editing, and spelling. The people at Grammarly certainly do. For the uninitiated, Grammarly is a series of tools for the web and other writing products to keep you from making simple grammar, punctuation, and contextual mistakes that can lead to wildly different meaning.
I chose this site specifically because their visual marketing is really amazing because – no offense – what is a topic more boring to 99% of the world than grammar? Yet, in funny “Grammarly Cards” (patterned perhaps after SomeeCards) they convey the core of their value, the benefit you receive from them, and a content lesson. That’s pretty impressive from a 400 X 400 visual with 3 to 10 words.
(BTW – For content marketers, Grammarly’s service is tough to beat; you should check it out.)
#2 – Home Depot on Vine
Ten seconds may not seem like much time – unless you use the visual medium properly, like Home Depot, in which case it is a firehose of information.
The Vines that Home Depot creates are without question, among the best stuff done by the brand in terms of advertising/marketing period. While I do question whether or not people who use Vine are actually Home Depot Customers, for other brands – take note, Home Depot does Vines (mostly) right. As a side note, even if we presume most of Home Depots Vine-ers aren’t homeowners, it’s a great long-term investment with short-form content. Curiosity factor of the content is so strong – they’re undoubtedly shown everywhere. In terms of effectively conditioning the “apartment dweller” who will someday be the homeowner – great job.
While I don’t like all of them, overall, these are still quite amazing. If you really like that type of stop-motion animated design, the best work I’ve ever seen is by Adam Pesapane’s film production studio known as PES.
#3 – The Hybrid Graphic Novel on Peugeot Website
This thing is really just too amazing to really even talk about much – it should just be experienced. Go watch.
Back? Now isn’t that the coolest thing you’ve ever seen? I look at a lot of websites – and I do indeed believe it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s comic book meets online meets car. It’s really a clever idea for introducing the features of a new car.
Granted the web site requires people to have a recent browser (not more than two years old on most browsers), but it’s brilliantly executed and scripted taking advantage of solid web technologies. The reveals using CSS and other scripting and the sound/timing makes the story flow cleanly and easily. While visually stunning, I can’t imagine this cost considerably more than a normal product introduction web site for a company the size of Peugeot. In terms of visual storytelling – it’s hard to beat in terms of strategy and execution.
#4 – National Geographic on Instagram
It is perhaps unfair to even talk about NatGeo – they’ve been creating some of the best visual content for over 120 years now. That said, they are by far one of the most successful brands on Instagram. A quick review of their page and I have to wonder if they should even publish the magazine anymore – instead finding a way to leverage their social media visual content.
I mean, after all, when’s the last time you saw 380K interactions about a rock?
This type of visual content marketing may not fit in the way that most people might think about. I’ve included it because the vast majority of people who experience this campaign will never actually build the GE engine that is available for 3D printing at Thingiverse. That said, it’s by far one of the coolest and creative pieces of visual content marketing I’ve ever seen.
When you look at what they did – it works on many levels. One, it’s got the value of being a long-term recruiting tool. I have no doubt that many a geek with a 3D printer made these. Some percentage of them will wind up building the real deal. Two – it raises awareness of how GE fits into people’s lives and the value they create. Three – it had considerable secondary value in social media. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube where people took the GE printed engine and actually made their own versions of them, or even cooler still, functioning pneumatic jet engines.
#6 – Coca-Cola on Tumblr
I honestly debated whether or not to include this one. Throughout the years, Coca-Cola has created some of the most visual content of any brand in history. Illustrations by Haddon Sundblom and Frank Mizen defined what Santa Claus “looked like” stylistically in America (and subsequently the entire world). That said, I’ve found most of what Coca-Cola has produced on its digital properties to be quite droll.
That said, their Tumblr page is pretty stunning. While not every image is great – some of them are really unique. Given the challenge of being an international company, Coca-Cola’s Tumblr page does a great job of overcoming language and instead focusing on visuals that connect people.
#7 – TileMasters GA on YouTube
I realize that until now, we’ve focused on brands basically with all the money on the planet (Grammarly being the exception). I can see readers going, “well yeah, of course, it’s easy to do when your budget is 800 kabillion dollars! I’m not Coke! I’m not Home Depot or Genera Electric!”
Fair enough. This guy – TileMasters GA has the best visual marketing I’ve ever seen on YouTube. That’s a good thing – because his website is absolutely awful… it’s like web one point… wow, it’s awful.
But the Videos he has on YouTube are brilliant for the type of small service type business he’s in. They convey competence and skill that builds trust. Yes, they’re not exactly CLIO or Oscar-winning pieces. Doesn’t matter. What comes through is here’s a master tiler that knows his stuff (too bad his website doesn’t convey any of that).
For a service type business where trust is key – this is brilliant work – done cheaply.
#8 – ShaveNation.com on YouTube
Again, another great example of using Visual Content Marketing to build trust, educate the consumer, and enhance the use of your products. The reality is that most men learned to shave from their fathers or grandfathers. What if your grandfather or father has no idea how to do a double edge shave? Or even more likely, has no idea how to do a straight razor shave?
Enter Geofatboy on YouTube. This man taught me how to shave with a double edge razor – and I’ve watched nearly everything he’s produced. Again, these are not complicated visuals – and the production quality is weak. That said – it sells product and he has influenced thousands of men (with hundreds of thousands of views per video).
Again, website is awful. Collateral is weak. But in terms of using visual content marketing to sell product – he’s got Gillette and their 800 million dollars a year – beat solidly in my view.
It’s as our creative director Troy always says – nothing beats a good demonstration.
#9 – Threadless on Facebook
Threadless designs are created by and chosen by an online community. Each week, about 1,000 designs are submitted online and are put to a public vote. After seven days the staff reviews the top-scoring designs. Based on the average score and community feedback, about 10 designs are selected each week, printed on clothing and other products, and sold worldwide through the online store and at their retail store in Chicago.
In terms of visual content marketing – they rule the t-shirt market. While competitors use chesty women and shock marketing, Threadless has built a vibrant community based solely through its visual style and approach to the market. I mean, who can deny the visual power of forbidden love?
#10 – Lego on Vine
As a product, Lego is for kids, so the Lego marketing team’s main challenge is to make their products appealing to children; however, it is the parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents and godparents who hold the purse strings. This is where the joy – and the genius – comes in: the Lego movies (made by both Lego and their fans) entertains kids and adults. While they dominate YouTube (this one is my favorite – a fan made version of Eddie Izzard’s famous bit), it’s a considerably more difficult challenge to do it in 10 seconds. Lego nails it.
Who do you think nails it?
I think the ten I’ve listed here are among the best you can find. If you think I missed someone – drop a line in the comments – I’d love to know what you think!
Also, if you’d like to up your game in visual content marketing – maybe you should check out the recent seminar we did. We draw from some of the best across art and cinema to show you how to visualize and conceptualize your brand for maximum result.