Branding used to be a high-level exercise bigger companies went through as part of their strategic marketing processes. You get an agency, brainstorm cute pictures, logos, and tag lines, come up with the visual guidelines, and move on. Every now and then you refer back to those branding guidelines that tell you the correct position for your logo and the approved color scheme.
Fast forward to today. You’re not doing passive marketing anymore, you’re actively seeking out, enticing, educating, and engaging your audience. You are creating content. Your colleague on the other side of the cubicle is creating content. Even the receptionist with her Facebook updates is creating content. Where is your brand now?
It Starts With the Brand
Content marketing experts tell you to find your voice. They tell you to be authentic, to show there’s a face behind the tweets, there’s people behind the whitepapers, and that there is a personality for your company. This is all good, and is all part of branding.
How is branding related to content marketing? When you think of your company’s brand (whatever size company you may be working for / with), you have to consider the following aspects of who your company is:
- Purpose: why do you do what you do?
- Values: what do you stand for and how you behave?
- Promise: what differentiates you from everyone else? Why are you relevant?
- Voice: how do you present yourself, your look and feel
If we put it another way, think about how your company behaves, how it is perceived in the market, and what it wants to stand for. For example, how is your company in relation to the following “attributes”:
- Serious vs. Playful
- Funny vs. Taciturn
- Outspoken vs. Introverted
- Analytical vs. Impulsive
- Likes to socialize vs. Keeps to himself
- Wordy vs. Concise
- Courageous vs. Prudent
Looks like a personality test? Well, it kinda is. Your ‘brand’ has a personality, a voice, a look. When you create content, you have to keep those things in mind. It helps with maintaining consistency, in presenting a unified front whether is via an eBook, a video, or a presentation.
Your Brand and Content Marketing
If you are a one-person shop, going through this exercise is faster. It’s all in your head and you basically have to decide if your company’s brand will be an extension of your own personality and behavior or if you’ll give it a different twist. For larger companies this will involve getting leaders from all areas together to understand what exactly makes the company unique. It will also involve documenting your brand attributes and communicating it to the rest of the company.
If you are thinking about putting together a social media policy, for example, it would have to follow the brand strategy for your company. When hiring someone, the brand is an important factor to consider. The company’s culture will be extremely close to the brand as well and is what will ultimately drive the brand and sustain it.
So as you put together your content marketing plan and decide which angles to approach certain topics, think back to your brand. That’s the first step in creating the best content.