When I started to think about what content stood out for me in 2014, it was all about the visual.  I’m not alone.  Most people (65-85% according to Trend Reports) consider themselves ‘visual learners, forming meaning and organizing thoughts based on what they see more so than what they read.’ Not surprising, stats abound on how image-centric content boosts engagement and e-commerce.  It also explains the explosive growth of social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and social app, Snapchat.

So with that, here are a few standouts and what we can learn from their ability to ‘show, not tell.’

Co-create and Curate

For today’s business traveler, the lines between work and personal experience blur.  With more than 450 million+ business trips to U.S. venues alone, many road warriors would jump at the chance to take in a few local sights. That mindset may have been the impetus for Virgin Atlantic’s blog feature that serves up 10 Things to Do “Between Meetings” in a range of destinations, from Indy to Seattle, Montreal to Dubai. What stands out here is that each post showcases travelers’ photo content curated from Instagram and Flickr, alongside the narrative.


 Learning: Collaborating with stakeholders for co-creation can bring new insights, making good ideas better and content more reflective of consumers’ needs and interests.

Taking it for a (New) Spin

High production values and car company content are pretty standard. But with “The Other Side” video, Honda manages to take video to a new level, engaging consumers in a clever ‘tale of two cars.’  Hitting the ‘R’ key lets you toggle between parallel storylines—a dad driving the white Civic to transport the kids, carpool style and his much cooler self, driving his racier red Civic Type R concept car – French Connection style.  What makes this remarkable is not just the outstanding execution to create ‘an experience’ but how on-point it stays with the product.


Learning:  Don’t be afraid to experiment with new formats but take care you don’t sacrifice the brand story for the sake of ‘cool.’

Get the Picture

Recognized by CMI for its proficiency in visual storytelling, Lowe’s does a masterful job using Vine, Pinterest and Instagram to ‘help people see they can take on home improvement projects on their own.’ As the name implies, its “Fix in Six” video series delivers useful, entertaining and shareable tips in six second increments on Vine. Providing creative inspiration (not a digital catalogue) is key to Lowe’s success on Pinterest; its boards reflecting the diverse interests of its 3.5 million followers. And more recently, the retailer is tapping top designers to ‘take over’ its Instagram and not only provide more inspirational content but amplify the Lowe’s story.


Learning: Get comfortable with simplifying your story. Challenge yourself to let images do the heavy lifting to carry your message.

Content in a Snap

There’s short shelf life content and then there’s Snapchat content. Can brands get comfortable with content that disappears in a matter of seconds, or a whopping 24-hours when it’s a “story”?  If they’re looking to stay relevant and top of mind with Millennials, then the answer is likely a resounding, ‘YES!’  A reported 100 million monthly users, most of whom fall into 18-24 age group (50% penetration according to comScore) are consuming over a billion stories per day, as reported in TechCrunch.  With numbers like that, Snapchat won’t be ignored, Dan.

Check out the Fast Company feature on “How 12 Brands Used Snapchat” for some stellar examples of branding ‘in the moment.’

 Learning: Go where your audience lives – if only for a short time – to offer exclusive, behind-the-scenes content that engages your users in the moment.

Now, what’s your view?




Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.