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Tips & Tricks

Sense & Sensibility: What's Good & Appropriate in Marketing

Content marketers need to play to the right audience, and creating material that drives traffic can be a challenge in less adventurous industries.

Content marketing is a space that lends itself to edgy campaigns and creative boundary-breaking – that is, if the brand and audience inherently lend themselves to such fun and frivolity. Conversely, some brands are so deeply rooted in a conservative culture and marketing voice that staid and formal content suits them perfectly. Every now and then a previously serious and mild-mannered company pulls off a re-brand in which their playful side is suddenly revealed.

National Association of Realtors

Buying a house is the single biggest financial transaction most Americans will ever make. The National Association of Realtors understands the gravity of this, respecting the need for a fairly business-like tone so as not to alienate the already anxious prospective home buyer. Their content-jammed online magazine HouseLogic occasionally takes a mildly casual or colloquial tone but mainly the voice emphasizes usability, prudence and enhancing every aspect of your property investment and household.


Their name actually has the word “telegraph” in it. Their logo depicts the entire world and to many, they feel that implacably enormous. AT&T understands that because they are perceived as the epitome of corporate, they need to zag the other way to gain a lot of street credibility. They’ve done this admirably with such youth-oriented branding as their sponsored online scripted series @SummerBreak and the first ever Snapchat series, entitled SnapperHero, featuring stars of Vine, YouTube and Snapchat.

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is a company borne of market disruption and bright personality. They mail out quality shaving supplies for the cheapest prices around, building their audience with guerrilla marketing and maintaining a low-overhead operation with a giant warehouse full of smartly-bought product. Even the paper-and-ink newsletter that comes with their monthly shipments is irreverent and funny. Their incredibly viral ad, featuring their actual owner, is the stuff of “Hail-Mary-advertising” legend.


For a chain of 24 hour fast casual diners that just years ago had an All-American, down-the-middle vibe, Denny’s has done an amazing job of turning its image upside down with a quirky, humorous, multi-faceted online approach. They funded Always Open, the Denny’s-set web comedy series co-produced by Jason Bateman and Will Arnett; planned a menu around the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; maintain an up-to-the-minute Twitter feed and Tumblr account full of silly humor and cultural references; create marketing tie-ins to events like Shark Week and Sam Diego Comic-Con; and did a very popular mashup of old Atari video games with Denny’s menu items.


Big Blue, as IBM is called, is famous for having a restrained, conservative corporate culture. From their well known dress code of plain, dark suits to their sturdy, no-frills PCs, IBM is a high tech company that acts like an oil company from the 1950s. The quietly authoritative, academic tone of their Think blog, with expert articles like “The Rise of Cognitive Business” and “A Major Advance in Nanotechnology Could Extend Moore’s Law” perfectly complement their inherent historic branding.
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