Behind lipstick psychology: smart content for beauty brands

As an avid women’s media enthusiast, I usually enjoy the different forms of branded content they feature. Dior’s branded article in PureWow last October is no exception – the proof being I actually remember it! Let me explain why I believe their lipstick psychology approach was a smart move to promote the brand’s Dior Addict lipsticks.

Dior PureWow lipstick psychology

The lipstick psychology format is intriguing

The “tell me what you do, I’ll tell who you are” formats are nothing new in women’s media. Tell me what you eat, what movies you watch, what you wear, and I’ll tell you your main personality traits and share precious recommendations with you. You’ve all seen it in multiple articles and tests, whether on print or online. Yet, the format doesn’t seem to get old. We still read these articles and take these tests. Just look at Buzzfeed’s success, based on articles you’ll read and share with your friends. Millennials are digging those fun contents, and there’s an added bonus when the recommendation is actually something valuable – like lipstick shades that would match our personality.

The integration of product recommendations answers readers’ concerns

For each lipstick profile, Dior and PureWow recommend 2 to 4 shades that should match your style. With a simple click on a shade, you are redirected to Dior’s e-shop so that you can purchase the Dior Addict lipstick in your favorite shade. It’s clearly laid out on the PureWow page, easy to understand you have the product shade name and number under the color) and user-friendly.

The graphic and editorial outcome fits the PureWow style and the elegance of Dior

Using PureWow’s usual fonts and white background, as well as the media’s friendly tone, the article stays in touch with the audience’s expectations. Still, it perfectly fits within Dior’s range: the way shades are featured on pretty white cards reminds readers of the brand’s paper cards you would spray perfume on. The lipstick marks on the side of the page also remind viewers of the gesture they have when drawing a lipstick line on their hand to see how a shade looks on them. Everything is designed to look pretty and fresh, while reminding readers of a real in-store experience.

To sum up, brands can continue using the “tell me what you do, I’ll tell you who you are” format in media as long as they fit in with the audience expectations and keep it light and fun. Because the brand’s ultimate objective may be sales, but this is not the reason readers check this media.

Takeaway lessons from Longchamp’s partnership with InStyle

Branded content is tricky. You want to build a stronger, closer connection with your customers while delivering content that is valuable to them. You want to stay away from simple advertising disguised as actual content but you also want your brand to be remembered and the content to fit your brand’s DNA.

Longchamp recently partnered with US magazine InStyle to feature a story on their website. With a video realized by InStyle Studio and an article written by the magazine’s staff, clearly mentioning the partnership with the brand, this operation shows efforts of transparency … This reinforces the impact of the sponsored content. Here are a few things Longchamp nailed with this article, released online on February 17th, 2015.

1. FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER

Knowing your audience is key to delivering the right, most catchy content to them. Longchamp is very successful in North America, hence it partnering with one of the most read American women’s magazine. InStyle’s website is dynamic and attracting lots of fashion-focused visitors. Longchamp can only benefit from such exposure on InStyle.com.

2. TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Longchamp didn’t just seize an opportunity for native advertising. The brand waited for a time when InStyle.com gets even more daily visits than usual: the New York Fashion Week (February 12 – February 19, 2015). This is a time when the website lives at its fullest, with articles posted everyday about fashion shows, street-styles, front rows, etc. Traffic is stronger than normally, which increases the likelihood of visitors reading the article about the brand, and thereby improve brand awareness. That is, if the article isn’t drowned by Fashion Week articles. Which is why it was smart to release the article at the end of the week, a little bit after the rush.

Video still from Longchamp x InStyle Studio

Video still from Longchamp x InStyle Studio

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Longchamp’s collaboration with InStyle embraces simplicity. There is one video, showing accessories worn in the streets of New York, throughout the character’s day. The emphasis is put on the items, which reminds us of Longchamp’s 2011 web-series “Heels” (in partnership with online magazine AuFeminin.com).

The article itself is simple as well: it’s short and clearly states that Longchamp purses are what you need to face your busy New Yorker life with style. This straightforwardness is just what the reader needs to be set in a positive mindset about what comes next.

4. EMBRACE CTAs

The article gives more space to the items than to words. Pictures speak for themselves and visitors are shown the accessories from the video to support the following point: Longchamp accessories are practical and stylish, therefore adapted to your lifestyle. Each item picture is followed by the item’s information (name and price) and a call-to-action button to shop directly on the company’s e-commerce site.

There you have it: 4 simple elements that helped Longchamp succeed with branded content.

Let Chanel tell you its story

Inside Chanel (source: Chanel)

Chanel is one of those luxury houses enjoying a rich heritage, built on a brilliant founder and his/her vision. Gabrielle Chanel played a role in women’s emancipation, she dared to say what she thought and she embodied her brand to perfection. She also broke the rule in fashion, jewelry and perfumery and her audacity and vision of free women are now part of Chanel’s DNA.

To leverage this strong history, closely linked to a –literally– extraordinary founder, Chanel has long told its story through ads, product names (think of the Coco and Mademoiselle Coco perfumes, both echoing to Gabrielle’s nickname), and more recently, a website called Inside Chanel.

Inside Chanel is a platform dedicated to Chanel’s history. Quite a paradise for marketers who love a bit of storytelling. And this is a field where Chanel has always been great. With 12 videos, pictures, drawings, ad campaigns, and a chronology, the website immerse visitors into the brand’s universe.

N°5 on Inside Chanel (source: Chanel)

N°5 on Inside Chanel (source: Chanel)

Such a website is a strong tool for luxury brands to make customers feel closer to the brand. Here, Chanel tells different stories: from key products (N°5, the jacket, jewels) to the vision of the brand according to its artistic directors (Gabrielle, Karl Lagerfeld)… The contents are of high quality, and do tell a story, full of interesting and instructive facts. The brand shares a part of itself with demanding consumers who want to feel involved with the house. It extends the user experience with the brand from an in-store or online visit and purchase, to a moment of sharing. And this is something luxury brands should keep on exploiting as it is a key differentiating element between luxury houses. Every house is unique so they should insist on their unique history to build stronger relationships with consumers.

Jaguar reveals your inner villain

I have always dreamt of driving a sports car, just to get a sense of it. Who hasn’t? With all those action movies and Formule 1 races on TV, most of us want to drive at an extreme speed and picture themselves as the next Schumacher, for a brief fantasy of our cooler selves. What a genius move it was from Jaguar North America to leverage this child dream of ours last year. The brand’s multi-channel “British Villains” campaign promoted the F-Type Coupe, the brand’s newest high-performance sports car at the time, which was to be launched in July 2014 in the US.

Credits: Jaguar North America

Credits: Jaguar North America

You may have heard of Jaguar’s 2014 Super Bowl 60-second spot… Yes, the brand really went for it! (It was Jaguar’s first spot during a Super Bowl, and we all know those spots are quite pricey.) Featuring three renowned British blockbuster actors (Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong), the spot was filmed by awarded movie director Tom Hooper. It promoted the tagline “It’s good to be bad”, appealing to customers’ inner villains, and launched the hashtag #GoodToBeBad. A spectacular launch for a spectacular campaign, which helped the British brand challenge its competitors on the North American luxury cars market.

Let’s jump to the online side of the campaign (as cool as the spot may be, you are after all on a blog called Digitizing luxury). Aside from online ads and community management (what I like to call the classics, or basics, given nearly everyone does it), Jaguar launched an application process for wannabe sports car drivers. The idea was to create a Jaguar Villain Academy (keeping the marketing communications very coherent, as you can see) and make four lucky contestants win a trip to Austin, TX, to try the new car before its launch, in July.

The best part? Winners wouldn’t just drive the car; they would spend a full day with the car, testing its capabilities, performance and handling on the Formula 1 track in Austin. Yes, you read me well. Way cooler than playing Gran Turismo on your screen, right? How’s that for a motivation to share content about Jaguar on your social media accounts? The brand promoted the application page on social media and applicants were asked to indicate their Instagram and Twitter accounts, indicating a social media campaign (nothing surprising here). A few months later, contestants were contacted by e-mail and asked to complete challenges. This campaign encountered quite a success on social media, with loads of shares and retweets or regrams.

Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong in the British Villains campaign. Credits: Jaguar

Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong in the British Villains campaign. Credits: Jaguar.

Jaguar North America also leveraged the potential of branded content. Several partnerships were created, including one with Sports Illustrated. Jaguar sponsored an original video series talking about infamous sports villains on SI.com. The two companies thereby made their respective fields meet to increase both of their audiences. Another great idea was the partnership between Jaguar and Pandora Radio: subscribers were offered to contribute to a crowdsourced playlist (the GoodToBeBad Mixtape) of the best of British music.

Therefore you see that Jaguar went all in to engage with its fan-base, through those means and many other channels (I chose to focus on social media and branded content, but there were more channels used, including online). Featured in countless media pieces, this campaign sure made a buzz.