Favorite Brand. What just popped into your mind?

If you’re a business owner, it’s probably your own logo or company name. For a consumer, it’s probably a favorite product. Either way, the image undoubtedly brought to mind something that generated a positive feeling. (Who can envision Coca Cola or Starbucks without hearing the fizz or smelling the coffee?) Maybe the reaction was just a smile, but in marketing that can mean…cha-ching!

What is a Brand?

You can find varying definitions of “brand” or “branding,” but regardless of the language it’s couched in, these aspects of being a brand hold consistent:

  • A name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates one product from other products
  • A promise to your customers, built on what you actually deliver 
  • The personality that identifies a product, service or company
  • Your customers’ perception of you and what they say about you

Your brand is built around who you are, what you actually do or sell and how you are perceived by users. If you proclaim yourself the greatest widget maker, it might sound good, but if your consumers experience a different result, your brand is conflicted and it won’t carry you to success.

For a brand to be successful it has to deliver on its promise in verified customer experience or it will generate negative impact instead of positive reinforcement. Wherever a customer connects with you—online, in a storefront, in their own home—your product or service needs to live up to its claims.

Brands can feel the heat from consumers more than ever before since the internet and social media have placed the consumer in the driver’s seat of marketing. The vintage quote, “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” certainly isn’t true. In this digital age when anyone can comment on your business and reach thousands of people in an instant, you want to do everything in your power to generate good publicity by having a strong, positive brand image across all your marketing platforms.

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.” Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap

Content Marketing Accelerates Brand Awareness

Marty Neumeier, brand strategist with Liquid Agency, sees three inherent issues with online marketing that attribute to most of the challenges that companies face when trying to establish brand recognition.

  • People having too many choices and too little time (24/7 information bombardment) 
  • Numerous offerings with similar quality and features (your competitors are online, too) 
  • Consumers basing their buying choices on trust (how to be heard in order to develop trust?) 

Each of these is a valid concern and definitely raises the bar for achieving branding success in the marketplace.

Content marketing can actually neutralize those problems with a structured content marketing lifecycle of Goals, Strategy, Calendar, Produce, Publish, Engage, and Measure. Each step of the lifecycle contributes to an orchestrated plan for managing your brand.

  • Setting goals clarifies what you want to accomplish, with brand awareness being a desired goal. 
  • Strategy involves defining your target audiences, knowing where they are online, outlining topics and titles, and setting up an editorial calendar to plan content creation and distribution strategies. A big part of strategizing is making sure the infrastructure of people, resources and processes is in place to support your content marketing initiative. 
  • Your editorial calendar lays out all elements of content production and the target publication dates. SEO (search engine optimization) requirements such as keywords and confirmed search terms are spelled out, as well as responsibilities for writing, editing, and publication. 
  • Production teams create your content and make sure it’s ready for meeting publication dates.
  • Publishing is pushing out your content to all your social media and online platforms, and actively promoting it for maximum reach. Publish content wherever your audiences are online, telling your story and building community and trust in your brand. 
  • Engaging with prospects and customers through your content will drive traffic and generate two-way conversation; they talk and you listen. Active engagement keeps you in a real-time connection with your consumers, protecting your brand’s reputation in the event of any negative feedback. You’re right there to answer questions and offer assistance 24/7. 
  • Measurement tools and KPIs (key performance indicators tied to goals) allow you to track activity around your content and know what is or is not effectively working in promoting your brand. 

In a nutshell, content marketing can build your brand by helping you tell your story to the people that matter (the ones who need and want what you have), in the way they want to hear it, and when and where they want to hear it. 

By itself, a brand isn’t a marketing strategy. —Heidi Cohen

Building Your Brand

Before you can begin an effective content marketing strategy, it’s imperative that you find your brand “voice.” This process involves introspection, honesty and transparency. The answers to these questions will be the foundation of all the content you create.

  • As the Cheshire Cat asked Alice when she tumbled into Wonderland, “Who are you?” You need to be clear on who you are as a company and a product/service. What is your reason for being in business? What do you have to offer that no one else does? Before you can present yourself to the world and establish why they need you, you first have to know yourself. 
  • Since a brand is built around a promise to your customers, you need to intimately know your customers and prospects. What do they want and need, and how do you meet that need? Discover what is of great importance to them and where you intersect with their values. Align your promises with the things that will make their lives better, sweeter, more successful or more fun. Become the helpful brand in your industry. Provide free, relevant information apart from selling–become the “go-to” source when questions arise around your product, service or market. 
  • Accurately promote your product or service, stressing the unique attributes that set you apart from the competition. Making false claims will come back to bite you, so focus on authentic qualities–real characteristics of the value and brand promise being provided. Show what makes you the best by highlighting the benefits and value for the consumer by answering the BIG question—”What’s in it for me?” Use testimonials, case studies and competitor comparisons to build trust and credibility around your product. 
  • Remove the cloak of invisibility from your company. Be authentic. Be real. Let consumers know who you are: your organizational culture and values, commitment to excellence in customer service, involvement with community, causes you support, and the people who make up your company. Your website should reflect your company’s personality so when a prospect or customer finds you, they can immediately relate to you. But remember, consumers are savvy and will sense duplicity. Be sure you actually practice what you preach

Content marketing can definitely help build your brand and maintain its integrity by having a consistent message and coordinated presence online. The stronger your brand, the greater value it brings to your company’s products or services. Satisfied customers develop loyalty and even emotional attachment over time and can become word-of-mouth advocates for your brand, telling a friend, who tells a friend, who tells a friend… Cha-ching!

“A brand is more than a promise. It also has to be a promise kept. In other words, a brand is a promise of quality wrapped in experience.” —Reid Neubert

Join the Conversation:

  • How do you prevent your brand from sending mixed messages to your customers? 
  • Is content marketing part of your overall marketing strategy? If not, why not? 
  • How would improved online engagement with your customers create more of a “helpful” brand image? 

Related Articles: