Are your customers into Cottagecore? Or is Y2K more their vibe? How about E-Boy and E-Girl?
If none of this makes sense to you, then it’s time you got clued up on social media’s latest craze, aesthetics.
While the word might be officially defined as ‘a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist’, in Gen Z social speak, they’re the carefully curated style tribes of the internet.
TikTokers in particular are obsessed with finding, embodying and impersonating them. It’ll influence the way they dress, how they style their home, do their hair, make up and sometimes even the way they shoot and edit their content.
Millions of TikTok videos have been dedicated to aesthetics and – according to Google trends – the term has been on an upward trajectory throughout 2020. So of course marketers are starting to sit up and take notice.
Let’s get familiar
Some trending aesthetics you might have spotted already are:
The popular Cottagecore aesthetic is centred around the idea of a more simple life, in harmony with nature. Some key motifs include fairies, open fields, picking fruit, forests and cottages.
The signature Cottagecore look is usually sundresses, light, flowy outfits with lace in green, brown, yellow and cream. @enchanted_noir is a popular Cottagecore influencer.
E-boy and E-girl
A huge trending style on TikTok, it’s modern-day punk, with a hint of the emo and goth aesthetics. E-boys and E-girls will style themselves with striped clothes, dyed hair and chain accessories.
Their signature makeup look is usually colourful eyes with big winged eyeliner, rosy cheeks and noses and drawn-on tattoos beneath the eyes. @aeroplvnes embodies an E-girl perfectly.
This is an academic aesthetic that revolves around classic literature, the pursuit of self-discovery and a general passion for knowledge and learning. People who use this aesthetic are usually referred to as Dark Academics.
Just think of the movie Dead Poets Society. Their clothing is usually preppy and classic in earth tones, black, brown and tan. @cosyfaerie has nailed the dark academia aesthetic.
This is a very specific style from the late 90s early 2000s that has transcended into the 2020s. The Y2K style includes lots of bling, all shades of pink, low-rise denim and lots of accessorising.
The influence of aesthetics
If you’re thinking this seems like a niche trend with little influence, you’d be wrong. Not only does that hashtag #aesthetic has 67.8B on TikTok, one of the fastest-growing platforms around, but their widespread popularity is also having a major impact on pop culture too.
Considering the year we’ve just had, it’s easy to see why the whimsical Cottagecore has emerged as one of most mainstream aesthetics. It has been linked to a couple of big cultural touchstones. Including the viral popularity of the strawberry dress by Lirika Matoshi and Taylor Swift’s 2020 Folklore and Evermore album, said to be ‘defined’ by it.
So how can brands harness this trend and create more successful social campaigns?
#1 Speak their language
Brands that show they ‘get’ the trends their customers care about, suggests that they care and understand customers themselves. Including a nod to aesthetics in your content, like Depop does, or listing products under relevant aesthetics like Etsy sellers, will help you get on their level. Particularly if you’re a brand appealing to a Gen Z audience.
#2 Create TikToks not ads
Branded content that emulates the themes and trends of the platform on which they are shared will perform better. If ads feel like the rest of the content, social users’ experiences won’t be disrupted. They won’t instantly be aware they’re watching an ad and scroll past, giving you time to get them hooked.
#90saesthetic was recently trending on TikTok which sparked the viral #PictureDay challenge, where users were re-creating their favourite 90s looks for a picture day montage. Any brand stocking vintage graphic tees, 90s style denim could have authentically jumped on this trend.
#3 Be discoverable
If are you are posting about an aesthetic, be sure to mention it by name in your captions and titles, especially on Pinterest and YouTube which work like search engines. And don’t forget to use relevant and researched hashtags. Likeminded social users will seek your content out.
#4 Seek authenticity
Being conspicuously ‘down with the kids’ isn’t what you’re going for! If you’re concerned you don’t have the understanding in-house, partner with TikTok influencers. They understand the intricacies of this fast-moving trend because they invented them and will allow your brand to harness them authentically.
#5 Find your own
If you have a brand that aligns closely with an aesthetic, then identifying and leaning into that can spur on your social growth. Users will want to continue getting this content in their feeds and will hit that follow button for more. One brand who’s known for their Cottagecore aesthetic and have nailed it on socials is DÔEN. Topping 310k followers on Instagram, the brand’s content and their values perfectly align with the Cottagecore aesthetic.