In 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled ‘Content Is King’. In the piece, he outlined how he felt that content would be the driving force behind the internet, and the biggest monkey-maker.
Fast-forward 19 years and it seems that Gates’ prediction has come true. In fact, the saying ‘Content is King’ was arguably 2014’s most overused phrase - with marketers from an array of different companies redefining their strategies so that their content is ranked as highly as possible on Google’s search index.
What Gates didn’t mention in his essay was the importance of the brand. Yet his creativity allowed Microsoft to become one of the world’s most recognizable brands, with Gates himself amassing a fortune of nearly $80 billion. Ironically, it would be Microsoft’s rival, Apple, which would take the concept of the brand a stage further.
Apple, whose brand is worth $124.2 billion according to Forbes, out-values Microsoft, its nearest competitor, by almost double. This has allowed Apple to put a premium on their products - with the highest-spec MacBook Pro coming in at well over $2500 dollars. Logically, one would assume that this price was a reflection of the product’s quality, but the reality is that Apple’s brand is such that quality may not be so important (although they are currently still producing some of the best produced products in the world) - people have an affinity with Apple and they are willing to spend the money to keep the association going.
This has led some to proclaim that a company’s brand is its ‘queen’. When we talk about a ‘brand’ in this context, it’s more about the power an organization has to distribute its content effectively. For example, a small startup might look at the mantra ‘Content is King’ and feel pressured to sit down and write 40 articles. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t prioritize distribution methods - it treats them as an afterthought, which will mean that regardless of how good the content is, it won’t be viewed by enough people.
This is why the brand is essential. It gives companies the platform they need to put their content in front of the right people. In his paper ‘Great Content Is Not Enough’, Ryan Skinner, states that good brands can actually cut their content production and be more successful if they concentrate on distribution - he also reiterates the importance of the feedback loop, which will only gather pace when content’s being viewed by more people.
Which is king then? The brand or the content?
Content is king. It is, as mentioned by Gates, the driving force behind the internet, yet without the queen, the brand, it doesn’t have the necessary impetus to succeed. Both are essential, but the companies with the best brands will find that their content has the best chance to succeed.