Content seems to be a crucial aspect of all companies today. Startups especially, are investing in owned content, which has proven valuable for developing a strong brand identity among consumers. Every business in its early stages has its own unique story, its own brand personality that differentiates it from the others. Startups can take advantage of their unique story by incorporating it to create compelling content. Sharing original content, if done right, can draw in consumers and develop connections and relationships on a deeper level to form a community around the brand, which, ultimately, will drive traffic and consumer loyalty.
An example of this can be found in SweetGreen, a “culinary lifestyle brand” that brings together a community promoting strong culture that values clean eating, sustainable practice, and meaningful connections. Opening its first store in Georgetown back in 2007, SweetGreen has expanded to 29 different locations along the east coast, and has recently announced its plans to expand to the West coast.
What made SweetGreen so successful these past eight years is the company’s intentional efforts to make strong connections with its customers and develop a spirited community with a shared drive to be “passionate with a purpose,” preserve the Earth, and ultimately “live the sweetlife.” SweetGreen, the company itself, lives by its values by being completely transparent in its sourcing, packaging design, and even architecture.
Even more, SweetGreen connects with its customers through music. This summer for the first time ever, SweetGreen is hosting a two-day music festival, sweetlife, in Columbia, Maryland from May 30th-31st. What started off as a small, 500-person show in the back parking lot of SweetGreen’s second store location, has now spiralled into a two day festival consisting of a lineup of more than 25 artists, including Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris. SweetGreen hopes that this event will be an opportunity for its community to come together and make a meaningful and memorable experience.
The boundless competition in such a crowded industry makes it hard for small companies like SweetGreen to stand out. However, although it is still in its beginning stages, SweetGreen knows that engaging its consumers is key in company growth and customer loyalty. And, more importantly, because SweetGreen identifies its consumer audience so well, the company knows how to gear their content to cater to the consumer’s interests. Whether it is through its captivating company website and blog or events like music festivals, SweetGreen customers are drawn to the company’s way of life.
Another startup that has utilized content marketing to its advantage is Shopify. In 2006, Shopify started as an online snowboard equipment store, but has grown to become a leading ecommerce platform for over 150,000 stores totalling $8 billion worth of sales. Shopify is at the center of the evolving retail industry, and it strives to make commerce easier and better for both the customer and retail business.
Shopify recently released its own blog, Ecommerce University, which aims to educate current and potential users on how to effectively utilize their ecommerce platform. Shopify’s customers are comprised of a variety of small retail businesses that sell anything from DIY toys to family-recipe fudge. It utilizes its diverse inventory of inspirational stories to attract and influence others to form an online community for small online business owners and users. Not only does the blog have advice articles and videos on ecommerce, but it provides a forum for thousands of discussions that cover topics ranging from ecommerce, marketing, crowdfunding and much more. In all, the company does an excellent job of providing online space for interested people to learn more about the growing industry and join in on the conversation. Users are encouraged to engage with not only Shopify itself, but the community it has worked hard to build around it.
Many companies today throw arbitrary content out there in hopes of latching onto anything, but instead create a chaotic mess of fluff. SweetGreen and Shopify, however, are two startups that understand how and why quality content gives consumers a reason to come back to the brand. Whether it’s to entertain or to educate through music festivals or industry thought-leadership blogs, SweetGreen and Shopify strive to engage and connect with their consumers. They reflect the value in speaking to their consumer audience and maintaining a consistent brand voice that outshines their competitors in the industry, making their well-crafted content a success story.