Content Marketing

What Happens When Storytelling And Tech Collide? Stylish Chefs Coach You Through Your Dinner Party.

The imaginative work of content strategy — the thinking about perceptions and sentiment towards a brand — turns out to be a wonderful way to also come up with apps, widgets and tech innovation complimentary to narrative text and video content.

Indeed, as content strategists seek ways to match their brand’s stories with their company’s core products, many are finding that they can deliver new services aligned to their customers’ expectations.

Drug stores are realizing they can offer “pill identifier” widgets and content about drug interactions. Home furnishing stores are becoming DIY home-design services, using algorithms and virtual reality to help people visualize their products.

And a clothing store can help you cook in style.

Wait, what? It may sound a bit strange at first, but Uniqlo’s fun new recipe app, launched in October, is a prime example of the creative things a brand can do to deliver a valuable service to consumers. The app, seen in the video below, marries content, fashion and food to create a fun experience for anyone looking for something good to eat and wants to look good cooking it. It’s one of several practical apps the company’s launched lately, including an alarm clock and calendar.

The content of the app is straightforward: the company had six emerging chefs from some of America’s leading restaurants design recipes for the brand. Uniqlo says it chose recipes with “everyday ingredients” to be consistent with the company’s simple design philosophy.

The chefs, of course, also wear stylish Uniqlo clothes beneath their aprons. Uniqlo says the pairing of style and taste highlights the relationship between colors and textures, and aesthetically, the experience is quite enjoyable. In addition to the recipes, the app includes other useful widgets, such as a recipe timer and music player.

The app is smart because it builds on Uniqo’s good name and expertise — smart, sleek design — while reaching new customers. Uniqlo already had the apps you’d expect from a retailer: a store locator and catalog, but these seem unlikely to be installed by large segments of consumers who do not shop at the store frequently. A recipe and style app, however, can become a part of someone’s daily routine.

Uniqlo is not the only brand thinking smartly about the associations customers make with it and how to offer more value to consumers. Crate and Barrel’s iPad app, seen below, creates a virtual living room you can use to see how a living room fully furnished with Crate and Barrel products would look.

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CVS pharmacy, not necessarily a name associated with groundbreaking tech innovation, did a great job outfitting their app with widgets offering services like a prescription refills, a drug-interaction guide, and a pill identifier. It builds on the store’s reputation as a pharmacy that you can rely on, and consumers seem to appreciate CVS’s work. Users have left over 30,000 reviews in the Google Play store, a full 10,000 more than Dots, one of the most popular games of the year with over 1,000,000 downloads. CVS also had a higher overall user rating than Dots. Turns out that people REALLY like utility.

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Ikea has won several accolades for its apps. Besides the typical store locator and catalog apps, Ikea created an “augmented reality” app — a virtual living room, similar to Crate and Barrel’s iteration. Ikea took things one step further, though, by allowing consumers to scan their own living room and use it as the base template for mixing and matching furniture. virtual Wired wrote a glowing feature on the app, and the video below gives an idealized version of how it works.

Based on user ratings, the recipe app is Uniqlo’s most popular app offering thus far. After all, everyone wants to throw a stylish dinner party for their friends.

Brands would be wise to follow Uniqlo’s lead by thinking about what its consumers really value in their companies. They’re looking to bring those associations into other aspects of their lives, and that’s one place brands can find their content sweet spot.

The Content Strategist is our brand’s story. What’s yours? Let us help you find the answer.

Hero image via ZagatBuzz / Flickr.com

Image by ZagatBuzz / Flickr.com
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