Learn from Corporate Blogs that are Doing it Right
The internet is rife with both small business and corporate blogs. As a business owner yourself, you probably don’t need anyone to clue you in on the importance of having an on-site blog and the many benefits you stand to gain by attaching this forum for your thoughts to your corporate website. What you may be less certain about is just how to make this platform work for you instead of the other way around. And rather than sifting through pamphlets and tutorials on the subject, you might want to take a look at some stellar examples of inspiring corporate blogs that are doing it right. You stand to learn a lot when you sit up and take notice of corporate blogs that are achieving the success you seek. So here are 10 of the most innovative and engaging corporate blogs on the web today, and what you can learn from them.
If you are familiar with this chain of healthy grocery stores, then you probably know that they are “the world’s leading natural and organic grocer”. But their dedication to environmental causes doesn’t end with carrying products that cause less pollution. In addition to green products and practices, they support fair trade, they patronize local growers, and they participate in micro-lending. And part of what makes their blog so successful is that they have found a way to carry this attitude over, reinforcing their brand message with every article posted.
The layout and design of the blog is clean (and you may notice their article headings are green, perhaps a subtle nod to their mission). Because they are a grocer, it’s only natural to expect photos of food, and these are both abundant and mouth-watering. When you can make a bowl of chia seeds look appetizing, you’re doing something right. The blog is easy to navigate and they use articles to promote both their products and their ideals, as well as put their knowledgeable employees on display. If you check out the “Meet the Blogger” link on every article you’ll find that entries have been written by staff members offering their expertise. This lends the blog credibility, upholds the company line, and helps to create a community feeling where readers know they can trust the authors.
Take Note: The layout is appealing, the blog posts are pointed and appropriate to the brand, and the writers are not only experts, but their content is geared to their audience and it is timely, relevant, useful, or all of the above.
This note-taking application has served mobile users of every ilk, from college students to corporate executives. In short, mobile media is their bread and butter. So it should come as no surprise that every entry on their blog features sharing buttons galore (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and more) so that readers don’t have to think twice about sharing or reposting their favorite blog posts. That is number one in the plus column. They also intersperse product tutorials with shout-outs to their users, their take on industry news, and plugs for other apps that enhance the usage of Evernote products. And they do it all with a layout that is surprisingly uncluttered, arranged in a deceptively simple grid, and limited to a 3-color scheme.
Take Note: The layout may seem simple, but it is inviting and easy to peruse. This blog is professional, informative, and it encourages sharing in a major way.
You may know them as the non-profit organization responsible for collecting blood and delivering disaster relief, but there’s a lot more to this global charitable group, and you can learn all about it on their blog, which features everything from disaster preparedness tips, to profiles of nurses working in the field, to articles written by members of the organization, highlighting their personal experiences. The blog may not show the same prowess for layout and design as others on this list (whole articles are posted on the main page, rather than links, forcing readers to scroll quite a bit), but the content is so engaging that you can’t help but continue scrolling to read more. As an organization that survives on donations, this connection is key to their ongoing mission.
Take Note: This is the one of the few corporate blogs where small flaws in layout and design can be overlooked because the content is so compelling that readers get sucked in to the overall experience.
Two words: eye candy. The stunning image of a Virgin Atlantic jet floating through a salmon-colored sunset above idyllic cloud banks is enough to make you want to lick your monitor, or at least jet off to some exotic locale. And the tagline, “Flying in the face of ordinary” is an apt descriptor of both the image and the brand. As you scroll down, the layout and design become a bit more recognizable, but ordinary they ain’t. Blog entries are arranged in boxes 3 columns across, complete with bold titles, color-rich photos, and opportunities to like and share with a single click. Also prominently featured are categories and tags so that viewers can skip the scrolling and get right to where they want to go.
Take Note: Like any good work of art, the layout of this blog guides your eyes where it wants them to go. But serious readership will appreciate the efficiency and convenience provided by boldly-featured navigational tools. CEO Richard Branson may march to the beat of his own drummer, but this creative genius is no dummy – his blog offers both visual appeal and ease of use.
Hotel chains are a dime a dozen, so how do you make yours stand out via blogging? Bill Marriott does it by putting his smiling face front and center, inviting you to be his guest, be it online or in one of his many hotels worldwide. Also on prominent display in the otherwise bare-bones header is the brand name (not the logo) in a simple, straightforward, sans-serif font in the signature shade of cranberry, a color that is carried through the layout, standing out crisply against the neutral palette of white and gray. Articles are symmetrically arranged in two columns, with a fixed box size for each entry. And incredibly, they all appear to have been penned by Bill Marriott, speaking in the first person about his life, his business, and his industry.
Take Note: Don’t be fooled by the seeming simplicity of this blog. It appeals to a vast audience, which is just what this brand serves. And the fact that blog posts are provided with startling regularity by 82-year-old Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International is enough to lend the blog authenticity and provide a personal touch that many corporate blogs lack.
To be honest, savvy web surfers may initially be put off by the lack of layout and design tropes provided by this blog. It’s simply not very exciting, visually speaking. But when you think about the audience for a metrics site, i.e. business analysts seeking speedy access to accurate information, you’ll find that the minimalistic layout and direct, unembellished content are right on target. Most corporate blogs would have a difficult time with such a simplistic and minimal design, but KissMetrics has such amazing and engaging content that they can easily pull it off.
Take Note: Knowing your audience can save you a lot of time and trouble and there’s no point in creating a blog that is unnecessarily complicated and will only end up alienating serious and devoted readers.
If you haven’t heard of money-management mobile app Mint, you’re missing out on a fantastic resource for tracking and planning your finances. In addition to developing an extremely useful app, they’ve also crafted one of the most informative and engaging corporate blogs. Guest writers serve to keep content fresh while how-to blog posts and titles that link finance to trending topics ensure that readers always have timely and relevant subject matter to peruse. The layout is fairly classic, featuring article teases paired with related graphics in a scrolling list, and the color scheme is a sophisticated pairing of a robin’s-egg-blue background with brighter green accents and bold, black print. Social media buttons are located right at the top of the page where they’re easy to find. And many blog posts answer queries posted by readers, enhancing the social experience and encouraging interaction.
Take Note: Mint is squarely focused on the wants and needs of their users and their blog supports that stance. The layout is appealing in a mild and unobtrusive manner, making the content the highlight of the experience.
What you may not notice as you scroll through the selection of blog entries is that every single post not only remains loyal to the brand, but the name “Bigelow” is actually present in every title. Whether they’re recommending ways to add tea to your Cinco de Mayo celebration, highlighting celebrity performers at their sponsored events, or expounding upon their social, environmental, and ethical initiatives, their wide range of topics all relate to their product and they won’t let you forget it. Talk about branding!
Take Note: Don’t get so caught up in trying to diversify and bring in readers that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of all your efforts is to make sales and promote brand loyalty.
Toms is known worldwide as the company that donates a pair of shoes to underprivileged people in need for every pair that is purchased from them. And their social and ethical spirit is on full display on their blog, which is entitled “Toms Stories”. They use this forum to tout the many initiatives they launch and/or support. And the front page is fairly littered with photos of people, whether they are employees out doing good or the communities that benefit from the efforts of this company. Every blog post also features social media buttons, which is apropos considering they rely heavily on building both online and real-world communities. On a technical note, the layout is constructed with offset boxes of various sizes, forcing the eyes of viewers to move in a pattern that leads them from image to text to image to text in a cycle that promotes further perusal.
Take Note: Goodwill is not an easy sell for most corporate blogs, but Toms isn’t just asking for financial support like some other socially-conscious companies. They want you to be part of their feel-good community and they use their blog to give you a taste of what that camaraderie means by forging a visceral link to readers through their use of images and language. All of us want to be part of something and experience that feeling of inclusion – this is what Toms offers.
The difference between this airline-centric blog and Virgin America’s is like night and day. From a purely visual standpoint, Virgin America features warm reds, oranges, and pinks on their front page, whereas Southwest uses inky blues and blacks, punctuated to excellent effect with white and light blue boxes for their blog entries. Graphics are not prominently displayed, with thumbnails accompanying each blog post tease. Text boxes are arranged in a single, vertical column and as you scroll, prior blog entries continue to populate further down the page so that you don’t have to do so much as click the mouse to see more offerings. In addition, the content is related to both industry and company news items, and articles are written by Southwest employees, whose photos and names accompany each blog post tease (as well as full blog entries). This keeps copy relevant and adds a human face to the equation.
Take Note: Bright colors and bold graphics aren’t the end-all, be-all of great corporate blogs. Flash may work for some corporate blogs, but others want to put their employees, their content, and their company front and center without added distractions.