Final Report

Overall, I think my project went well, though it wasn’t without a few setbacks. The first week I wanted to look at the social media rhetoric of the vegan shoe brand Cult of Coquette.  I had read an article about them and thought they were more well-known than they are.  Part of the reason why they aren’t so well-known, I quickly discovered, is their gross lack of an online presence.  I’m not sure if this is intentional and part of the branding itself, trying to create an air of mystery and pique the interest of those who hear of the brand, but given what I have learned throughout this project I don’t think it’s a very good marketing tactic.  Instead, I covered Stella McCartney, because it is a similar brand as both are vegan friendly.

Some of Stella McCartney’s rhetorical appeals include the use of ethos. The end of her About Stella page on her website states, “Stella McCartney’s commitment to sustainability is evident throughout all her collections and is part of the brand’s ethos to being a responsible, honest, and modern company.” This page also states that she is a lifelong vegetarian and that she never uses real leather or fur in any of her designs.

Overall her presence seems distant and intentionally aloof. She is a very busy woman, of course, but her posts tend to have short descriptions – often only one sentence – and she uses very few hashtags. She only posts about herself and her brand, which is a good way to keep her fans updated on the two topics, but she does not, for example, use trending hashtags or post photos that are amusing, which are tactics that some use to gain more fans. She uses the same hashtags across sites, which is part of her branding but also makes content that is specifically hers easier to find. For the most part, she is very consistent with her content. She posts regularly, and tends to post the same updates on each of her pages.

Her punctuation changes depending on the content she is posting, regardless of where it is posted. She takes a formal, informative tone when introducing designs from her collections, and ends sentences with a full stop. Personal posts, such as the one about her jacket, tend to use a more excitable tone along with exclamation marks. She also signs the personal posts with “x Stella”, making the posts seem even more personal.

BatDad primarily utilizes pathos in his content. This can particularly be noticed in content that includes his wife being annoyed with him or his children causing mischief. While these are regular occurrences meant solely for comedic effect, there is a level in which the viewers connect because they understand how frustrating or aggravating certain situations can be. His other posts also use pathos through word choice.

BatDad’s content is almost always titled with one to five words. There is only one post that differs from the rest by having a lengthy text post included with the photo. This is found on his Instagram page. There are eleven sentences, three of which, toward the end of the post, end with exclamation marks. The same photo on his Twitter page has the typical short description, merely informing the audience that BatDad t-shirts are back in stock without offering any of the backstory that was found on the Instagram post. Also, this photo was not found on his Facebook page, however a link to buy BatDad shirts was found in the About section of the page. He also encourages fan submissions by posting or sharing content that is submitted and thanking the original poster or creator of the content. This may drive people to create content for BatDad in the hopes that he will share it and give them credit publicly.

Lowe’s uses both logos and ethos. Logos can be found in posts directed toward consumers to convince them to buy a certain product or try a do-it-yourself project with items purchased at Lowe’s. Lowe’s presents itself as a one-stop, more-than-just-hardware store. Lowe’s also spends time creating a business ethos. This is noticed most on Lowe’s website, which provides several links and photos to good deeds that are being done directly by those who work for Lowe’s, or improvement and research projects funded by Lowe’s.  They also play up the roles of tradition and family through photographs and some word choice.

Monster Energy primarily uses pathos, because almost all of their promotions involve a passion for activities such as travel, skiing, and skateboarding. Monster Energy also caters toward the younger generation with a use of emojis, such as a crown, in their posts. They also use slang, even in their hashtags, such as “#killinit”. This is their way of promoting their brand as youthful, energetic, relevant, and “cool”. Part of their energy also comes from their punctuation as they tend to use exclamation marks.

Primarily, the brands seemed to use pathos the most often, ethos second most often, and logos the least often.  It depended on the brand and the type of content they were posting, and each brand had tendency to stick with one type of appeal.  It seemed as though brands would change their appeals according to platform.  Stella McCartney mentions her vegan friendliness on her About page, and Lowe’s talks about charitable works on their About page, but both rarely talk about those things on social media.  The tone used on the websites for Stella McCartney and Lowe’s were also different than the tones they use on social media, but Monster Energy kept the same tone.

The websites themselves are also telling.  Monster Energy is all black with bright green accents.  This is part of their branding as the main product they sell also comes in these colors, but it also makes everything on the page stand out and appear energetic.

Stella McCartney’s website is white and clean, with everything neatly organized and easy to find.  This makes sense as she is a designer and so she would want things to be aesthetically pleasing but also functional.  She does make herself out to be a self made woman, and presents her many achievements in the forms of text and a timeline.  I think this is partially because she is a woman in what has long been a male dominated career, and wants people to take her seriously.  However, I think even more likely, is because her father is Paul McCartney, and she does not want her success to be because of her relation to him.  She is setting herself apart.  She retains the simplicity in her social media posts by keeping the text short and to the point.  Her hashtag use is minimal as she allows the photo to be the focus of the viewer’s attention.  Also on her About page, she has two photos, one black and white and one in high key, muted colors.  I feel the black and white is more about her being a designer – she has a serious, partially covered face, the collar of the top she is wearing is more fashionable than an every day look, and the photo is in black and white, which is sometimes viewed as being more artistic.  The color photo is more natural, and I feel reflects her as a person rather than a designer.  The color adds life to the photo, and the photo is a selfie, which has a more personal feel.

Lowe’s presents the opposite on their About page.  Even the first sentence of their description mentions “home”.  They also give a brief history of the company, which makes them not only seem established but also like a hub for family and traditions.  Like Monster Energy, their website has a lot of white and blue, which are the brands colors.  It helps to keep the site appear more organized and allows the products to stand out.

In my own blog, I tried to mimic some of what the above brands did to promote my own brand for this project.  At the end of this project, my blog has 14 followers.  But, my Facebook page for this brand has 63, and is growing a little each day despite the fact that I have not posted new content in a while.  Part of the reason for this I think must be because a Facebook person with a couple thousand Facebook friends shared my page’s profile photo.  However, this was also a couple weeks ago, and in the past week I have had 33 new followers.  Only about 8 of the likes on my page are from people I actually know.  I noticed that being more personable and allowing people into my life, like BatDad, was more successful than keeping distance, like Stella McCartney.  The recipes were the most successful posts, and do-it-yourself projects were the second most successful, so I can see why Lowe’s posts so many DIY projects (aside from also sometimes advertising their products to be used in the projects).  Posts that use exclamation marks seem to get even more attention.  Overall I wish I had been a little more successful, but due to time constraints and having too many irons in the fire I was not able to put as much into this part of the project as I would have liked.  Still, I did learn a lot over the course of this project.

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