Copyblogger’s Frank Strong says that a brand is a promise. Keeping that promise – meeting customer and prospect expectations in every way – builds brand loyalty. But failure to keep your promise can be deadly. So can a vague company image that leaves people wondering who you really are. Brand marketing is the process of establishing and reinforcing your client's promise.
Remember the expression “perception is everything”? Your client's brand isn’t what they say it is, it’s a composite of what others think about their company and its products. A well-defined content strategy can alter perception in their favor.
Strategic brand marketing is consistent.
Everything you do builds your brand identity, so consistency is critical. If your content is simply a series of random, generalized musings, or if it’s barely more than a thinly veiled series of sales pitches, your company’s image will be vague or, worse, negative. It’s especially important to maintain consistency as you weave messages throughout online and traditional marketing methods.
Even the timing of postings should be consistent -- not annoyingly frequent, but not so seldom no one remembers your last post. What’s best depends on who you are, what you’re selling and to whom.
Consistency defines your brand as dependable.
But consistent doesn’t mean identical.
Effective strategy deliberately changes things up. Not everything is appropriate for every business, but the most effective content strategy starts with a “platform-agnostic” open mind. Consider the full range of content delivery formats and platforms and how each one might help you deliver your message. You might be surprised.
And here’s an idea: ask your customers which platforms or media they prefer. Merely opting for what seems most relevant to you could be a big waste of time and money.
Repurposing content is actually a valuable brand marketing tactic. It saves time and enables you to deliver thematically consistent messages in varied formats via multiple platforms. You can build brand familiarity while reinforcing your key points in varying degrees of detail.
Start with the end in mind.
Strategy provides a road map to achieve your vision. Armed with your long-term goals and near-term objectives and priorities, you can develop a useful brand marketing strategy and choose the most relevant content topics and delivery mechanisms. You’ll want to:
- Create an editorial calendar to keep content in sync with overall marketing initiatives and avoid random, hit-or-miss topics and off-the-cuff presentations that are strategically useless.
- Optimize everything for mobile access, regardless what business you’re in or who your customers are, or you’ll soon find yourself out of the search loop.
- Build responsive follow-up into your plan, another consistency that develops positive brand experience based on trust and credibility.
- Monitor and track results, and evaluate them against your goals, then use what you learn to tweak content strategy as you move forward. It’s an evolving process, not unlike your brand itself.
Personas help develop strategic brand marketing.
A persona is a virtual customer that fits the profile of your best real customers – the marketing version of your childhood imaginary friend. Keeping this person in mind makes it easier to identify content topics or formats you know will resonate with your audience.
What information do they need? What problems do they have that your products or services can solve? Providing information and real solutions is part of your brand promise.
Use your actual audience to create content. Who knows better than they do what they want and need? Storytelling personalizes your brand and illustrates its value to customers and prospects. You cannot over-estimate the brand marketing value of third-party validation.
Remember that unless you only have one product, you have multiple audiences with differing desires and needs. A content strategy that uses varied approaches reflects those differences but supports brand consistency.
Visuals are a strategic asset, but your logo is not your brand.
Photos, slides and video can capture and present your brand promise in ways words simply cannot. They can be far more attention-grabbing and engaging, and they’re often more likely to be shared. But relying on your logo to provide visual branding would be like relying on the first three letters of the alphabet to create your verbal messages.
Effective brand marketing helps people put together the puzzle pieces that form your company’s image. Well-crafted content strategy helps ensure that image is the one you want to project.