Your ‘brand’ is more than just your logo. Your brand is your company’s personality. It manifests itself in every facet of how you present yourself, from the tagline on your website, to how your employees talk to clients. It's how you relate to customers, and the experience offered by becoming part of your brand, not just by buying your product, but by engaging with you.
One of the best ways to show your brand’s personality is by building an effective, consistent, and appealing content strategy. Content marketing has really come to the fore in the last few years, and is an excellent - and cost efficient - way for your business to attract consumers. By being both useful and engaging, it creates free advocates who will share your brand content on your behalf. It helps to build trust and gain credibility with customers, both of which confers you authority and strengthens relationships, and increases trust in your product.
For a content strategy to work, it needs to be carefully aligned with your overall brand strategy. The best brands have a clearly defined idea, story and purpose. An effective content strategy will articulate and convey these and draw people in. Lyft’s #whyILyft stories are a great example of a company doing this well. They tell the stories of Lyft’s drivers and passengers, humanizing the brand, helping people to connect with it and take a stake in its success. Lyft’s content fits with the brand and the central conceit of the product, that it’s all about people and sharing, and is highly emotive.
To align content and brand, companies need to firstly decide the kind of content they should focus on. While it’s necessary to produce a range of content, it’s more cost effective and will drive more repeat views if you really focus on one area. For example, with Red Bull’s high energy, extreme sports branding, the best fit is videos, and they’ve seen tremendous success producing original video content. For a B2B, it’s more likely that you will be viewing the content at work, meaning written content is probably a better fit.
Once you’ve established the type of content you think you should be focusing on, it’s important to establish a consistent style and tone. Blog posts need to use a language that suits the image you’re trying to present and resonates with your target demographics. A clothing company focused on millennials will therefore obviously adopt a more informal tone, probably chucking in some dirty words and risqué metaphors. They’ll reference topics and events relevant to young people, like legal highs and exams getting easier. A B2B technology company, on the other hand, will look to express itself more formally. It’s also important to ascertain what exactly it is that people want to read. Does an instructional article fit in with your brand? Such articles are hard to do, and could actually harm trust in the brand if not done well. Equally, trying to position yourself as a credible news source is rarely going to be credible without a large scale editorial team behind you, and it’s rare that news articles will fit in with a brand at all. In fact, I’ve never seen it. Content is not journalism - it should be informative and/or entertaining. Firing off second hand news stories is neither of those things.
Content does not have to directly align with what you’re selling either, it just has to fit into the kind of lifestyle that your brand is aiming to slot into. In fact, it’s better that content is a far-removed as possible from direct sales as it loses a degree of authenticity and will turn people off. People don’t want to feel like you’re being underhand and tricking them into reading sales materials, people want to engage with something on its own merits, and will buy into your brand and product if they feel it has something to offer them. Women’s online clothing retailer Anthropologie does this well, frequently featuring cocktail recipes on their blog. The drink recipes work because they feature unique ingredients and flavors, which is representative of the originality that Anthropologie wants to promote about itself. It also works because it’s not directly trying to sell anything, it’s simply building a connection with its consumers by positioning themselves as a trusty friend when it comes to things they like.
As David Ogilvy said: ’You cannot bore people into buying your product; you can only interest them in buying it.’ Content should follow your brand and help develop it. If you’ve got boring content, you’re either not doing this, or you’ve got a boring brand. Either way, you need to re-evaluate.