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It takes a lot of time and energy to nail your brand identity. Once that identity is firmly established — backed by your brand values, your goals, and much more — you’ve got to communicate it to your audience. When you consider that 90% of people make up their mind about a brand after doing a search on it, it makes it even more imperative to ensure that the brand image you cultivated is what they find. There are many avenues through which you can build your brand image: your logo, your tagline, your customer service, the product itself. But the most exciting opportunities lie in the powerful tool of content marketing.
Content marketing is the practice of promoting a product or brand (i.e., marketing) indirectly by creating engaging online material, like blogs, videos, social media posts, and more (i.e., content). Unlike the constrained parameters of things like tagline and logo, the realm of what you can create and distribute through content marketing is vast. It just has to be, well, content. This limitless field of possibilities is probably why 89% of companies now use content marketing as a strategy for brand growth.
Because content marketing doesn’t directly sell products, some people have a tough time seeing its concrete value. However, that doesn’t mean that value doesn’t exist. In fact, content marketing can enhance brand image in ways that no other marketing tool can.
Audiences today demand authenticity from brands. They see the brands they use as extensions of their identity, making it essential for brands to cultivate real, trust-based relationships with their audience. Gaining the trust of your target audience not only builds affinity and loyalty, but also helps strengthen and spread your brand image through word of mouth. Content marketing is very effective in achieving this goal.
By creating and sharing valuable content consistently, you’ll put your brand in front of your audience for more precious minutes. If your content is done right, those precious minutes will leave them with a positive and memorable impression of your brand. For example, consider the bank Charles Schwab. In addition to banking and brokerage services, they also have a robust Knowledge Center with valuable financial insights that anyone can access, as well as human, informative emails with personalized financial insights for their existing customers. These types of content show people that Schwab genuinely cares about their finances, building trust and strengthening relationships.
“If you build it they will come” is true in certain situations, but your brand just isn’t one of them. In today’s oversaturated market, you need to be crafty and proactive to reach new people and grow your audience. Content marketing lets you do that in a number of ways. First, it allows you to create content that is perfectly tailored to your target demographic. Once you understand who your audience is and where they live online, you can create content that you know they’ll see and engage with.
Content marketing also gives you a hook for collaborating with influencers, who can be very effective at expanding your reach. This could take the form of having influencers do sponsored social media posts, videos, or blogs, or even collaborative content that you make with the influencer. For instance, if your brand sells almond butter, you could partner with a foodie influencer on an Instagram Live where she makes a recipe using your product.
Lastly, content marketing is your number one tool when it comes to SEO. People turn to search engines to find what they need, so if your brand can make its way toward the top of the search results, your reach will naturally grow. Paid ads are a means to this end, but it’s much more effective and cost-efficient to have organic content that allows you to maintain a strong presence on the search engine results page for relevant keywords.
No matter how great your product or service is, let’s face it: nobody’s really captivated by a list of features. People care about what those features mean for them, what the features will enable them to achieve, and the underlying values that led to the creation of those features — all of which reflects back on who you are as a brand and why you exist.
For instance, Asana is essentially a task manager and collaboration tool. It has a whole bunch of different integrations and features, but they don’t reach new customers by listing these features. Rather, they use various forms of content to tell the story that anything is possible if you only break things down into small steps and work together. They tell this story through case studies, videos, onboarding, social media, and various website pages, among other types of content. In each instance, the story they tell feels human and engaging, and brings to life the compelling features that would fall flat otherwise.
There are countless brands competing for people’s attention these days. As a brand, your job is to not only be seen by your target audience, but also be remembered by them; and if you come off as pretty similar to your competitors, you don’t stand a great chance of being remembered. Content marketing gives you the space to really explore and communicate your unique brand identity and values, drawing a clear distinction between you and the competition.
A great example of this is Ben & Jerry’s. On the most basic level, they’re an ice cream brand in a world of innumerable other ice cream brands. But when people think of Ben & Jerry’s, along with imagining their favorite flavor, they also think about the brand’s bold, progressive values. For people who share those values, that is a huge selling point. How did Ben & Jerry’s achieve this? Through content marketing. You can find their values in various forms of content online, from a Values section in the top navigation of their website to their social media presence, newsletters, and even the copy on their ice cream pints.
One important caveat with content marketing is that you should never create content just to create content. That content should always provide real value to your audience, whether that value is entertainment, information, inspiration, or something else. By doing this, you score big points with your audience, who not only come to think of you as an expert in your field but also develop positive associations with your brand. After all, who doesn’t feel good about getting something for free?
To create content that’s of value to your audience, think about who they are and what they want to achieve, then create content that helps them get there. As an example, consider the fitness company Alo, which sells activewear but also has a digital fitness platform. As a way to provide added value to their customers, they give everyone who purchases an item from their activewear line a 30-day free subscription to their online fitness platform, no matter how small the purchase. For people interested in fitness (who are likely to be the people purchasing activewear), this is truly valuable content, and will increase the likelihood that they’ll think of Alo for future activewear purchases or online fitness options.
Your brand image is key to your company’s success, and content marketing is key to strengthening that brand image. Don’t underestimate what you can achieve through content when you get creative and keep your brand goals in mind.
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