Few marketers doubt the importance of a strong brand for a firm’s success. But a lot of marketers think about their brands in fewer dimensions than they ought to. Everyone realizes that logo and color schemes are important. But what we need to be talking about as marketers involves so much more than this.
And though one of the most popular memes online right now is the idea that your brand is “what your audience says about you when you’re not in the room,” it’s really much more than even that.
Your brand is the way you make your audience feel.
Your brand is the connection people have with your products and your company. That connection – that emotional connection – is why both Coke and Pepsi exist. Yes, you can taste the difference between their two flagship products, but let’s not pretend that a nation glugging down 106 gallons a year of just Coca Cola-branded carbonated soft drinks per capita is more gourmet than gourmand. (That number gets even scarier if you think that there are people who drink only Pepsi products.)
People drink soda because it’s sweet and satisfying, but they love Coke or Pepsi because of the brands those firms have built.
Savvy content marketers realize that creating the same kind of emotional connection requires content that connects at an emotional level. Certainly, that’s harder to do when you’re marketing, say, professional services rather than soft drinks, but it’s still possible.
Don’t believe me? Look at the car industry. Sex sells, right? And yet, Volvo, who do not have a Corvette or Camaro, a Mustang or a Hemi anywhere in its lineup, still manages to charge a premium for its product. So how does it compete? By striking a different emotional chord.
Here are a few ideas to explore and apply to your own content marketing for creating those same kinds of emotional connections through your content.
We are a visual people. Visuals assist learning, visuals are processed more quickly than written words. Visuals help people connect emotionally with the concepts you present. Use visuals. Infographics are all the rage at the moment, but even more conceptual images will help, assuming they’re well chosen.
Branding is also strengthened if there’s a consistency to your message and your presentation. Designers and branding specialists know this. That’s why they give you a brand book when they finish a design/branding exercise. No matter what the situation, your content presentation should clearly relate to the brand as a whole.
In non-visual media, the branding is defined in the tone and personality of the content itself. The biggest error here is playing it too safe. Don’t be bland. Maybe full-on cheeky isn’t right for you or your audience, but there’s a whole continuum to explore between Ricky Gervais-style irreverence and the buttoned-down demeanor of a 1950’s pharmacist. Find your voice and use it consistently.
Stay On Message
You probably have a bank account and you may be a country music fan, but you probably don’t rely on your bank to tell you what new music you should listen to. Stick to your knitting, as they say. It’s OK, even desirable to associate yourself with things your audience finds cool or hip – remember, it’s an emotional connection you’re aiming for – but don’t overdo it. You wind up looking like a middle-age dad trying to impress his teenage daughters. (My kids love it when I say things like, “Totes ‘precciate the ‘tunity, but here’s the ish” even though I have no idea what any of that means.)
If you keep in mind the idea of your brand being central to the emotional connection you make with your audience, you’ll be much more likely to think of your brand beyond the logo and color schemes you probably don’t even notice any more. And that focus on the bigger picture – the real meaning of your brand rather than just the look it embodies – will make your content marketing much more successful.