Brands are the starting point for all marketing and communications. The strategic lodestone. The most fundamental expression of your company’s mission and purpose.
Content marketing is a tactic – a system of focused, specific, flexible and customer-oriented communications with an eye on the bottom line.
What two marketing disciplines could be more different? Yet anyone who practices both can tell you that the deeper you dive into either, the more they start to look alike.
Branding and content marketing: children of the same mother.
It’s no mystery why. Branding and content emerge from the same place: the brand value proposition. Or to put it another way, they’re both about telling the brand story.
Where did your brand come from and why does it exist? What makes your brand different and special? What does your brand offer the customer, what needs does it uniquely satisfy, what problems does it solve?
If you can answer these questions – and articulate the answers in the form of a succinct brand proposition – then you not only have the foundations of a robust brand, but also a framework for all the compelling content you could ever wish to create.
Content marketing is what happens when your brand has to go out and earn a living. If branding and content are both about story-telling, how are they different? Branding is the process of creating the story.
Content tells the story in a way that supports sales, not with a hard-selling push, but by forming relationships with customers and prospects and by building trust.
Content is trackable and measurable. And while it’s not designed to move product on the spot (you probably have another department for that called “Sales”), you should expect it to more than pay its way in the form of qualified leads, a smoother sales process and improved loyalty.
Content marketing without a strong brand is like running without legs.
Content builds relationships between your customers and… your brand. It delivers value to your customers because it tells a compelling story about… your brand.
Content has to be about something. That’s why the first step of any content marketing program is to write down a content marketing mission statement. And guess what? That mission statement will always be a specially-purposed version of the brand proposition.
Branding and content marketing need each other. Like symbiotic creatures, branding and content programs make more sense as a single system than as separate entities.
Branding must eventually find expression in results-oriented, ground-level programs like content initiatives. Otherwise it can degenerate into navel-gazing and design minutiae. Content stays focused and effective only when it follows guiding light of the brand.
Branding and content marketing: brothers in arms.