How Bevel Cracked the Content Code
Maybe it’s the way trends become a cherished part of people’s identities and memories. Maybe it’s the give and take between icons and their followings. Whatever the reason, fashion and lifestyle brands seem to get how to tell their story better than most.
Take Bevel, a brand focused on beauty products for people of color; what sets its content site, Bevel Code, apart from other fashion-brand blogs is a focus on in-depth stories and unique interviews that connect people to the products they use.
Bevel has recently emerged as a darling of Silicon Valley, and the promise that investors have seen is on full display in the company’s smart content strategy. When TechCrunch dropped 1,000 words on Bevel last year to announce Nas and Andreessen Horowitz’s investment, the VCs swooned over how Bevel’s founder “understands the customer base that he will serve very well, and out of that comes authenticity.”
That authenticity shines through on Bevel Code, which is filled with stories that help fulfill the company’s mission of filling a gap that’s missing from today’s health and beauty offerings. Bevel Code “is the first and only styling and grooming magazine targeting men of color,” said Raquel Lachman, the director of brand marketing for Walker & Company, Bevel’s parent company.
It’s designing the lifestyle for its consumers base with articles that offer genuine insights on taking better care of your body and style. Articles tailored to people of color’s unique concerns—like how to prevent razor bumps if you are a black male or how to wash your hair to preserve oils—are apiece with stories about communities where people are carving out their own personal styles.
Editorially, the content is well-written, lyrical, and paired with the kind of lush, high-resolution images that characterize The Sartorialist or a Bill Cunningham fashion essay for The New York Times. Bevel Code uses a simple blog format, but it’s easy to see how the Code hub could easily exist independently on other social platforms, like Instagram or Tumblr, in an app, or turned into a print magazine distributed at barber shops.
In Bevel Code, you can see service-based editorial and business strategies collide. Bevel starts with the premise that people use search engines or social media to find content that services a practical problem—or helps them live a richer life. In this vein, they have have regular features with tips like how different famous barbers use a razor, or why people color should be aware of the need to take vitamin D to maintain health. As Lachman put it: “Selling is not our primary focus on Bevel Code, and we’ve successfully built our platform based on trust with our audience.”
A great example of providing value and curating a lifestyle is seen in Code’s interview with Questlove, the drummer for the Roots and the Tonight Show house band, and his barber, Faheem Alexander. Questlove dishes on hipsters emulating the beards of inner city Philadelphia. Then he talks about what his barber’s taught him over the years, and how it took him a while to value it.
Both are interesting topics, and they both tie back to Bevel without shoving a product in the reader’s face. What’s a good way to get people more interested in better beauty products? Have Questlove—who always has a barber pick in his hair—talk in detail about needing to take better care of his hair in ways that Bevel’s products address. The marketing takes care of itself.
The same formula is repeated in this interview with Knicks player Quincy Acy, who runs a free basketball camp promoted with the slogan #PutYourBeardFace, in honor of his trademark beard. Menswear designer and afrobeat producer Ikiré Jones discusses the launch of his own clothing brand and personal style, talking directly and indirectly about how Bevel can provide the grooming to go along with the right sartorial choices.
In these pieces, you can see Bevel’s well-executed thesis: By using content to curate a lifestyle, a sale proposition is inherently created—you can’t help but imagine the possibilities of life with a little better grooming and facial hair. Bevel wants to “build a relationship with readers over time and provide them with compelling reasons to try the brand by showcasing our expertise in the space,” Lachman explained.
So if you want to know how to use content to tie your brand to an aspirational lifestyle—while offering a consumer product proposition to meet that need—Bevel is teaching a master class. It’s like if some really smart marketers made GQ, but with better beards.Image by G-Stockstudio