Hush Puppies is a perennial presence on the British high street. They’ve been producing sharply styled shoes since the 1960s and in that time they have held on tight to their rock and roll heritage. Indeed, the name ‘Hush Puppies’ is synonymous with a certain style of shoe. That’s why the slightly neglected feel of their UK blog is so surprising…
The first thing to note is that the Hush Puppies UK blog has not been updated since April 2011 but there is still a link to it on the front page of their UK e-commerce site. Going quiet like this is a cardinal sin of blogging – it’s much better to have no blog at all than one that’s has inexplicably ceased to be. A defunct blog is like a virtual Marie Celeste – sad, confusing and vaguely disquieting. Who used to read/write this blog? Why did they leave the blog? Is the blog haunted? All these questions and more come to mind.
Hush Puppies probably made a considered decision to stop using their blog because they found it wasn’t working for them as a channel. Perhaps because the content itself was disparate in subject matter; ranging from a job posting for a new intern to jargony product line breakdown. Or maybe it was because the tone and visual appearance were inconsistent with what the brand was doing elsewhere. Whether they made a decision to drop their blog or not one question remains; when plenty of other footwear brands have no blog of any kind (Doctor Marten’s, Clarks) why didn’t Hush Puppies bite the bullet and boot the blog?
One answer to this question comes from the Hush Puppies UK tumblr account which if you squint into the digital distance you can probably spot riding over the hill in a suit of gleaming armour to save the day. That’s right, every faux pas and foible from the footwear firm’s first foray into blogging has been avoided, eliminated and expunged from this second iteration. Behold, brand micro-blogging at its best.
Where their blog was a static page in a dusty corner of their e-commerce site the tumblr is a vibrant, active feed of juicy tidbits and user-generated stories. The account was created to tell the story of the brand’s collaboration with dynastic design-house Hemingway Design – the collaboration taps heavily into the Hush Puppies heritage and is stocked in the Topman General store in London. Key messages are the quintessential Britishness of the collaboration and the accessibility of the range. The page is also designed to be visually consistent with the Hush Puppies e-commerce site, despite any easily visible connections between the two sites.
And this is all to say nothing of the content-mix available on the Tumblr account. There are the usual videos and images (all bathed in luxuriant sepia filters, courtesy of Instagram) but there are also 30-minute playlists put together by the brand on their Mixcloud account featuring authentic sounds from the 50s and 60s. They’ve even uploaded their AW12 look-book to Issuu for their fans to peruse.
You’re only as good as your content strategy
When you compare the way the same brand has approached blogging in such different ways like this it really drives home the importance of a well thought out content strategy. If all of a brand’s channels are not firing on all cylinders with a strong and consistent message this can undermine the good work being done to create content and tell involving stories. In this case the old Hush Puppies blog only serves as a bewildering page in the overall e-commerce site that raises more questions about the brand than it answers – all of this goes some way to undoing the good work done by whoever is in charge of their Tumblr page.
Our guess is that the HP blog was put up as a hygiene factor, with the brand feeling that they had to have one because that’s what everyone else was doing. Conversely, their second attempt has a much more considered feel.
The message then: producing content for the sake of it isn’t enough, it is just as important that the stories your brand tells are well thought out and communicate your message clearly and consistently.