How to Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing
“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” – Doug Kessler
When talking about content marketing, people tend to forget the content part and remember only the marketing part. They always seem to concentrate on getting high numbers in terms of sales and marketing but forget the engine that drives it: content.
Content marketing is the art of telling not selling.
Instead of looking at it as a selling pitch for your brand, look at it as a communication tool. Content marketing is much more than what we know of it on the surface; it is an art of story-telling about your brand.
The Early Birds
Though content marketing is a buzzword nowadays, some brands realized it way back during the 90s and practiced the art of weaving a story around their brand.
John Deere is a great example of excellent content marketing. Often dubbed as the pioneer of content marketing, they launched a magazine for farmers called ‘The Furrow’ way back in 1895 and garnered a lot of attention from their audiences. Coca-cola has been indirectly leveraging the art of story-telling since years. They have always created a specific brand image and promoted the product accordingly. These brands realized the power of content and marketing it, very well, to etch the brand in the minds of consumers.
There’s a lot to learn from these brands who managed to get the art of content marketing right even when there was no firm evidence or prior experiments from which they could draw some insights.
Tips for brands: Master the art of storytelling
Let’s take a look at some of the main strategies to create a distinct brand identity by leveraging the power of content marketing. Buckle up, you are in for a long ride!!
Tip 1: Create a distinct voice
It is essential for a brand to have a distinct “voice” and “tone” in their content and all their communication methods. Whether it’s your blog or your PR campaign, it is imperative to maintain a distinctive voice in terms of the values that you propagate, support that you extend to the community, and a culture that your organization reflects. Simply put, weave a story that reflects your brand with a voice that could be defined as ‘just’ yours. We know Coca-Cola is for family functions, whereas Mountain Dew is for the daring souls on an adventure!
A simple way to assess the voice of your brand, is by printing a piece of your content and content written by your competitor and placing them without any identifiable logo designs or names. If you can’t distinguish between the tones of two articles, then you probably haven’t established your own style.
Hence, it is essential that all stakeholders of your content marketing strategy communicate with the audience in a striking yet consistent tone and voice.
Tip 2: Define your value
Contrary to popular beliefs, defining your value does not mean boasting about how good your services are. It is highlighting your unique proposition and highlighting the value it adds to your clients. White papers, case studies, blogs, or even client testimonials are some of the ways used by organizations for content marketing to define their value.
Presenting relevant research helps your clients to gauge your understanding of the product category, market, and consumer requirements. By placing the value propositions well, businesses can also showcase their differentiating factors from their competitors.
Tip 3. Know your audience well
Gauging your audience behavior is not just necessary for the marketing aspect but also for the content part. It is essential to know all the nitty-gritty of the kind of content that your audience would prefer. From the marketing perspective, it is essential to know your audiences’ content consumption habits such as where they read, their usual network and their preferred sources, i.e., magazines, newsletters, newspapers or just company journals.
You should dig (read: research) enough to know whether they like a short format content or a long format, the tone that they are familiar with, i.e., informal, formal or semi-formal and whether they wish to read insights and opinions, research studies or just quick actionable points relevant to their businesses. That’s going to take some time to frame, but trust me, it’s all worth it in the end!!
Tip 4: Have a Brand recall strategy
With so many options in all the product and service categories, brands these days are struggling with a new kind of marketing problem where they not only have to introduce a brand and the product but to also implement a brand recall plans at regular intervals after the initial marketing phase. It is imperative to remind your customers about your brand offering through various content marketing gimmicks.
A brand recall strategy is based on the life-cycle stage of your product/service. For instance, a product/service in its mature stage might need a stronger brand recall strategy and a product differentiation content.
Tip 5: Leverage the power of Social Media
We are aware of the immense power of social media to reach out to people and to influence them instantly. Content that you post on social media needs to be much more than regular Instagram posts and Facebook memes. Leverage social media in all ways with the power of right content in the correct format.
For example, showcase the causes or movements you support and pull the consumer’s heartstrings to etch the brand in their minds. Create campaigns to engage people on social media; post curated write-ups or content pieces. Remember United Colors of Benetton’s #NoHate Campaign 2011 that went amazingly viral, definitely inspiring a lot of us (including me)!
Tip 6: Personify the brand, if possible
Personification helps consumers to connect with the brand. It’s also easier to remember the brand or a product when it is associated with specific personifications. Creating content that personifies the brand or associating it with a person or a character that such as zoo-zoos for Vodafone, makes the brand last longer in the minds of consumers.
Nowadays some companies present the CEO as the face of their brand in order to personify it. This strategy works great for services that can only market their service products and do not have a physical product to engrave its impression. A great example of this is the insurance sector. Leading brands in this sector have created content that personifies the brand as a companion, caretaker, etc. This not only helps in building the brand identity but also helps to pitch the products in a certain way.
Tip 7: Marketing the Company culture
The internal culture of the organization is no longer just an inner aspect of the organization. With platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, employees have started having a dialogue about their work environment, career opportunities, and the job itself. Hence, it’s essential for the organizations to create a great culture not just for retaining the employees but for maintaining a great brand image as well. Putting a word out there about the company culture is an organic way of marketing and creating a brand identity.
Virgin Media’s Richard Branson has always been a propagator of valuing the employees first as they are the internal stakeholders and then placing the external stakeholders. He has been appreciated and remembered for his views whereas companies like Uber witnessed a serious hit after the internal disputes made news last January. Campaigns like #DeleteUber added to the overall negative publicity received by Uber.
In this era of digitization, transparency is not a choice it’s become a norm and companies have to deal with both good and bad. Company culture largely influences consumer behavior, and the media isn’t shying away from covering those internal dynamics.
Tip 8: Influencer marketing
Brands ambassadors have existed in the conventional marketing world since ages. In the early days, companies picked the most renowned faces and pitched them in advertisements to sell their brand. With the advent of content marketing, it’s not just the, “who’s saying it” that is important but also “what’s been said” which gives gravity to the claims made by influencers. From personal reviews to social media influencers to associating the personal stories of celebrities with the brand, content has been the focus more than it ever was.
CraftsVilla, an e-commerce platform is an excellent example of marketing the brand successfully with the help of social media influencers. Even high-end, older brands have also realized the importance of content and some wise ones such as LUX have garnered good attention from their audience not just because of the celebrity endorsements but because of their rich content. Their latest campaign on Youtube #Imorethanyousee showcases hard work, dedication, that 3 actresses from 3 different eras put in for their craft and work. It propels a message that actresses are much more than their beauty and they are an artist first over anything else.
With increased transparency, more consumer engagement, and more content consumed than ever, content marketing has become a necessity for brands. It’s the strongest bolt in the marketing campaign and brands must harness its potential completely. Content has existed since ages, but it has now become the disruptive force in the consumer-oriented world. By taking into consideration the above points, brands can utilize this force to their advantage.
On the endnote, building a strong and distinct brand identity will help for its long-term survival as things that stand out are harder to forget. People always strive to create a distinct identity of their own in order to get noticed, with brands having the same motive, it’s high time that they also strive for the same.
Always remember: Content is the king. And those who serve the king well, survive.