If you’re reading this, that’s pretty solid evidence that content marketing works. And the reason it works is because, at its core, content marketing is about symbiosis—a sharing of value between a business and a prospect. It’s gotta be more than a naked sales pitch, there has to be something in it for you too! (Keep reading, I’ll try and prove it).
What’s in it is information (ideally). Plus, maybe some entertainment. Alternatively, an amazing alliteration AI absolutely ain’t able to assimilate. Whether a video, infographic, or blog, the first and most important thing in content marketing is the information it conveys. It’s the proverbial “good personality” in a friend or partner—inarguably more important than appearance.
But let’s talk about looks. Good looks don’t hurt in human relationships, and they definitely don’t hurt in content marketing. We could just write this in a Google Doc and send you the link, but that just isn’t the ideal experience. People love beautiful design, it helps entice and engage, enhancing the information contained within.
In fact, people following directions with both text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations. Imagine that direction was your compelling CTA.
So we know content marketing works. But if you want to stand out from your peers and competitors, you need to consider aesthetics, and that starts with design.
“Design” and “Content Marketing” are huge areas to explore. So let’s break down the core elements of design as they pertain to your content marketing strategy:
Use images to tell a story. The humble static image remains a powerful tool in content marketing. Images can help you convey a message, create an emotional connection with your audience, and add visual interest to your content. So, make sure to choose high-quality images that align with your brand and message.
Make a statement with typography. Your typography sets the tone for your entire design, so choose wisely. Pick a font that reflects your brand's personality and make sure it's easy to read. And, remember to play with size, weight and spacing to make your headlines stand out. Typography (and how it entices your audience) is also an important tactic to consider when requesting assets like infographics. Speaking of…
How 'bout an extremely relevant infographic ABOUT Typography!
Make data fun and accessible. Infographics have been around as long (and longer) than content marketing has been a thing. And there’s a reason—numbers and data can tell an important story and make a compelling case, but they’re not always that interesting. Imagine posting a screenshot of a spreadsheet. Doesn’t matter how good the data is, people need the design element of a good infographic to buy in.
Get creative with color. Color can have a big impact on how your audience perceives your brand and content. The right application of color theory will create a sense of mood, evoke emotions, and add visual interest. Just remember not to go overboard. Stick to a simple color palette and make sure your colors complement each other (or leave it to Superside and our cadre of color nerds).
Design and brand consistency are the lifeblood of content marketing. Think of your brand as a person. Every time you put out a piece of content, it's like that person speaking to the world. You want them to be recognizable, consistent and put their best foot forward every time they open their mouth (or in this case, every time they release a piece of content). That's where design and brand consistency comes in.
Establishing firm brand guidelines (like we did for our client Salt) allows for a consistent look and feel.
Design is what makes your content visually appealing and memorable. A great design is like a great outfit, it makes a person (or in this case, a brand) look good and feel confident. And let's face it, in today's world, we're bombarded with content 24/7, so making sure your content stands out and makes a lasting impression is crucial.
Brand consistency, on the other hand, is about making sure every piece of content aligns with your brand's personality, values, and messaging. Indulge me once more with the “brand as a person” analogy.
Imagine one day this person shows up to a meeting in a business suit and tie, and the next day they show up in ripped jeans and a t-shirt. That inconsistency would confuse you and make you question who that person really is.
The same goes for your brand. Every piece of content you release should align with your brand's overall look and feel. The last thing you want is a confused audience: you want their experience relatable, familiar and easy to process.
So how do you ensure that your design and brand are consistent? Enter the style guide. A style guide is like a rulebook for your brand. It lays out all the important details, from the colors and typography you use to the tone and voice of your messaging.
With a style guide in hand, you'll never have to second-guess yourself when creating content. Instead, you'll have a roadmap to follow that will help you create consistent, on-brand content every time.
Oh, and by the way, creating a style guide is something we’re pretty good at, so make sure to get in touch if you’re keen on consistency.
This might sound a little hypocritical (given the medium on which you're reading this) but it's time for content marketers to think outside the blog. Here’s a few channels to consider. And, oh yeah, we’re starting with video.
We’ve written about leading with video before, but it really can’t be overstated. Video is an enormously important channel to tap into. We know how impactful static images can be, imagine beautifully designed rich media! It’s why more and more marketers are turning to video as a channel to engage their audience and establish a deeper emotional connection.
Of course like any hot trend, standing out becomes that much more difficult. And while quick-and-dirty user-generated-content style videos can absolutely work, if you’re looking to make a splash on glossier video platforms like YouTube, you’re going to want to lean on professional, high-quality designs to elevate the emotional impact your videos can have.
As our very own Kyle Weber, Sr. Video Content Marketing Specialist said:
“Establishing that emotional connection first will warm up the crowd, making them more open to your other marketing assets. In this way, video marketing is your Trojan Horse. It gets your blogs, your case studies, and everything else inside the walls, giving them a better chance to succeed.”
Social media is all eyeballs. In a crowded marketplace of attention-seeking visuals, well-designed content can help your brand stand out from the crowd. From eye-catching graphics to beautifully designed infographics, social media is the perfect place to showcase your design skills and grab people's attention.
And yes, while sexy data and nice videos are the bedrock, don’t forget the importance of a spicy meme. Branded memes are a great light-lift, low-friction way to boost some brand consideration while asking nothing of your audience but a chuckle or two.
Email is a highly personal channel, and great design can make all the difference in whether someone opens and engages with your content or hits delete. From the header and footer design to the use of images and graphics, the way your email looks can have a big impact on its success.
As someone who literally played a personified whitepaper (portrayed as a creepy weirdo who scared people at parties), I acknowledge the lack of sex appeal they’re associated with. But long-form content like ebooks and whitepapers can be a great way to showcase your brand's expertise and build thought leadership. Exceptional design can help make these types of content more engaging and visually appealing, so your readers stick around and learn more about your brand.
Ok, if my cheeky callout of content marketing’s effectiveness was slightly preemptive in the intro, by the time you’ve made it down here there can be positively no doubt. And much of that is to do with the design and user experience you’re having (and hopefully enjoying) on this blog. No matter how good the writing is, without the appeal of design, your content marketing will fail to reach its full potential.
And with that said, why shouldn’t it? Making your content stand out from the crowd is one of the things we do best. Ready to take your audience engagement to the next level? Let’s chat.
Cam is a Content Marketing Manager at Superside, with a background in marketing for Fintech and Finserve. A content and product marketer for nearly a decade, he’s developed a tremendous respect for how design can elevate a marketing strategy. When he's not getting into heated debates about em dash usage, he's probably snootily obsessing over a local craft beer or dangerously obscure wine. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
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