As we all know, there are certain things that have value on their own but serve as powerful, mutual catalysts when combined. Such is the case with branding and content. But to avoid any risk that "branded content” might be interpreted as how satisfied you are with the seared rear end of a cow, let’s start with some definitions.
Branding, according to entrepreneur.com, is, “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol, or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” Branding is as old as sales (or bartering) itself. No doubt when the tribes of pre-history gathered to trade their wares, each vendor made an effort to stand out from the others. What’s more, you can bet they attempted to make a lasting visual impression so that potential buyers looked for them the next time the tribes met. (“Let’s find the woman who brings cherries in the yellow baskets!”)
Content marketing, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute, is, “The marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” A newer development (though not as new as you might think—see our previous post), content marketing is a powerful replacement for the anemic, old approach of bombarding prospects with “features and benefits” bullet points.
By themselves, branding strategy and content creation are two important practices that help businesses set themselves apart from their competitors and engage their prospective customers. The match hits the gasoline when those two disciplines are artfully blended. At that point, an organization is elevated from product or service provider to thought leader, expert, even mentor. Its visual identity is tied to its generosity in providing best practices, industry insights, or other helpful information.
And it doesn't take long for avid consumers of your branded content to become customers. What’s more, they often go on to be your most vocal brand advocates and sources of considerable word-of-mouth business.
So how do you take advantage of the powerful chemistry between brand and content? Here are a few pointers:
- Develop a strong visual identity.
- Create a brand standards guide and make sure it is followed. A brand loses much of its power if it is diluted through a font that’s “close enough” or a color that “almost matches.”
- Review your branding on a regular basis. While frequent brand changes can confuse consumers, there is nothing wrong with occasionally refreshing/updating your visual identity.
- Before creating content, ask your customers and prospective customers what they would find helpful.
- Craft content that is relevant and objective.
- Apply your branding to materials in a way that is noticeable, but not obnoxious.
- Promote your content (and expose your brand) through many channels.
- Repurpose your content where appropriate, to capitalize on the effort already expended.
Have something to add? We'd love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments section below.
Beautifully-branded, insightful content can both increase awareness and raise your stature among your readers. Get moving on your strategy today by learning more about how we can help you.