We are always on the lookout for creative ideas for doing standard things. Standard things like annual reports of companies. Enter Warby Parker and its application of creative visual design content to its most recent annual report.
A creative mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.
Never heard of Parker Warby? As they write on their website, Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective. The objective was to create boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point.
Eyewear with a purpose
Almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses. This means that 15% of the global population cannot effectively learn or work – a problem that Warby Parker is determined to address. They’ve partnered with non-profits like VisionSpring to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.
Eyewear startup Warby Parker just released its 2013 Annual Report, a perfect example of how important tone is in creating great visual content. This very different approach to a year-end report uses a calendar format, highlighting company events on each day. Some events are significant company milestones; others are little anecdotes showcasing office life and culture.
Wow … what a change from the typical financial results and strategic initiatives that typically fill the pages of annual reports.
The report is an excellent example of a brand showcasing its ideas, creativity, and culture in a visually engaging way. At its core, the strategy of content marketing is not just about distribution and visibility. It is about telling the world who you are and what you stand for. This design goes a long way in turning customers into brand advocates.
The design shows how to empower your content. So many companies just don’t take advantage of their great content, or they don’t know how to present their content in a creative way. Often, in the end, they are fighting for survival as we all are. However, the brands that can express their personality, their creativity, passion, and manage their content in a way that speaks to people will create loyal customers.
Here are nine important takeaways all brands can learn from Warby Parker’s design approach to creating great content.
Push the edge to be different
What does the Warby Parker (http://www.warbyparker.com/annual-report-2013/#march-11 class trip have to do with eyeglasses? What does it matter? It is an interesting story, and Warby Parker uses the story to illustrate its personality and culture. Your content should be relatable, valuable and interesting for your audience. If you capture these qualities, your marketing will create a captive audience with ever-increasing brand loyalty.
Creative visual design content … utilize visual design
First and foremost, prioritize visual design in your efforts. Presenting your content in a visual format has some benefits. First, humans recognize and process images much faster than text; this is why visual content has much greater appeal. A study by 3M showed that 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.
Second, using a diversity of image types makes your content continuously fresh, which encourages readers to explore more. In the Warby Parker design the combination of photography, illustration, videos, and data visualization keeps the eyes interested and moving around the page. More time on site means more engagement with your brand.
Apply data in comparison
If you are going to visualize data, display a comparison—that is what makes the visualization more meaningful. The infographics revolution has brought with it many missed data visualization opportunities in the form of single-data-point pie charts and big numbers with fancy typographic treatment. Distilling data into a statistic removes the context and comparison that makes it insightful. Don’t fear complexity; take advantage of the opportunity to add clarity with many visualization design elements.
Show Your Personality
Business is becoming increasingly personal—not in the waiter remembers my name sort of way, but more in the way that we crave more personal connection in a web-based world. People want to know that the businesses they support are run in a way they can relate to, that its employees are people they might hang out with and potentially even someone who could become a good friend.
Marketing content is all about making connections. Your level of success has a lot to do with how your readers react to what you write. People connect with your brand because they relate to what you’re saying to them. They want to feel that your content is specifically crafted to their interests and needs in mind. In other words, it should feel personal.
Show off your people
Your customer community wants to know that there are humans behind your brand, and they want to know more about them as people. Don’t make the mistake of hiding your people, relationships, interactions and office pranks behind a shield of professionalism. These things are most often as interesting as your products and services … and certainly as how much money you made last year. In today’s marketing landscape, whether you are a product or service-oriented business, you are selling your culture, and your culture is your people.
The growth in content consumption is not just because people are looking for a satisfactory distraction from work. Customers have an appetite for real, interesting information. The vast knowledge-sharing that the web has facilitated has brought with it an increased curiosity and hunger for understanding. Don’t believe that everything you do in the back end of your business is boring. Turn it into engaging content that will deepen your customers’ understanding of what your world is all about.
In his book, Contagious, Wharton professor Jonah Berger showed that one of the key reasons people share creative content is because it arouses a person’s emotion. His point … content has to go beyond just being useful; it has to be unforgettable. Rather than trying to churn out quantity, take the time to figure out what kind of emotions move your audience.
In doing so, it’s important to remember that not all emotion is created equal. In his research, Berger identifies that certain kinds of emotions – those that get people “aroused” like awe, passion, and anger – are much more likely to drive shares than those that make people feel toned down – like sadness, relaxation, or contentment.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up.
Integrate products/services naturally
Your products and services don’t have to be ignored. In this midst of all the other ways to add to your design, you often can overlook them. Feature your product or service naturally within content, but don’t make it an abrupt deviation from the other fun stuff. This means that you will want to tone down your calls-to-action and any other hard-sell tactics. Use them as an opportunity to remind viewers what you do, without killing all those good vibes you have been building.
Share how you are awesome
One important element of marketing is about bringing attention to how awesome you are. However, this doesn’t mean your awesomeness-recognition abilities should be limited to your pursuits. Calling out the big (and little) wins of others—vendors, customers, ex-employees, maybe even competitors—shows that you are not afraid to give credit where it is due. This fresh perspective will add authenticity to your content.
Amplify who you are
Your content is a perfect place to let your audience know why you do what you do. Clearly articulating the values that give your company meaning helps you connect with people on a level beyond the business transaction, and it attracts people that share those same ideas. This powerful means of communication helps truly differentiate your brand—more than low prices, and fancy features could ever do.
Do you have a lesson about making your content creation more creative you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is completely up to you.
It’s up to you to keep improving your ability to learning to learn. Lessons are all around you. In many situations, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.
It’s up to you to keep improving your continuous learning from all around in your environment.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.
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All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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