If a stranger were to walk up to you and ask “What is your brand?” you might attempt to explain what you do, how you do it and for whom you do it. But real brand development entails much more, so much more that it can be difficult to convey the entire concept of your brand using words.
Your brand also includes your customers' experience, both physical and emotional, and the manner in which you do business in your company. Your brand is your promise to your customers. However, brands are never static. There is no “fix it and forget it” when it comes to brand development. Brand development is a process that should continually evolve and grow with your business.
Brand Development Evolution
In the past, as part of their brand development, businesses used traditional marketing channels to communicate the concept and value of their brands. Advertising, public relations, direct mail and other marketing vehicles were used to push messages out in the hopes of attracting prospective customers.
Then, advancements in technology quickly spurred radical changes in how people seek entertainment and information. The internet and search engines allow users to control their online media experience. Social media has grown exponentially. Lower cost devices like smartphones and tablets have provided continual online access to the masses. And most of us have become adept at tuning out the deluge of traditional marketing messages. As a result, traditional marketing alone no longer has the impact and reach needed for successful brand development.
Brand Development Today: Creating Valuable, Sharable Content
Fortunately, content marketing has arrived and is proving itself to be an incredibly successful tool for communicating and building relationships with prospects and existing customers. Content marketing, the development and distribution of information that engages your target audience in a meaningful way, is a valuable resource for brand development.
Branded content is content marketing that successfully communicates the key concepts of a brand, while engaging target audiences. Companies both large and small have scored immense and measurable gains by creating and distributing branded content.
Mint.com was one of the first companies to create and distribute infographics to reach target audiences. The financial services company created unique and compelling visual representations of economic trends, data and statistics. The popularity of the infographics, which included titles like “The Gift Card Minefield”, “Stock vs. Stuff”, and “Trashonomics”, provided entertaining and enlightening monetary information that resulted in two million new customers within three years.
Most of us would agree that bad breath is no laughing matter, especially when it happens to be your own. After truggling with traditional marketing efforts and gaining little traction, Orabrush turned to content marketing and social media. The company created a $500 “Bad Breath Test” YouTube video that utilized humor to promote their tongue cleaner. The video became a viral hit, and to date the Orabrush YouTube channel has received over 40 million views. The company also has more than 340,000 Facebook fans, and the product is now carried in numerous major drugstore chains.
Building off of the premise that there are certain shapes that are instantaneously recognizable, like a shark fin and a Volkswagen Beetle, the car maker created a seamless tie-in to their sponsorship of the 25th anniversary of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. The “Volkswagen Beetle Shark Observation Cage” cruised the ocean floor amidst the terrifying predators. VW’s Facebook page featured unique video and photos and the hashtag #VWSharkWeek created a Twitter dialogue with excited fans. The choice to sponsor Shark Week arose in part from VW’s brand development efforts to increase the brand’s reach and affinity with a larger male audience.
Getting Started for Small Businesses
For smaller businesses, distributing and creating branded content can be more cost-effective than many traditional marketing techniques. Low-cost branded content can be achieved through blogging, infographics, eBooks, slideshows, how-to guides, surveys, Q&A articles, photos and many other affordable digital resources that provide your customers and prospects with valuable information.
Beyond the benefits of low-cost development, publishing content that is optimized for search engines offers the added bonus of increasing your visibility. Search engines, like Google, reward new and unique content. When you publish and distribute branded content optimized around your keywords, your PageRank can increase. Higher PageRanks will deliver more qualified traffic to your website. This is a huge win-win for your business. Hopefully one that your competition isn't already beating you to.
When you successfully develop and deliver branded content you solidify your brand by connecting with your target audience in a meaningful way that provides a lasting impact, while increasing your reach and visibility. Branded content is a critical component that should be included in your ongoing brand and business development efforts.
Image Credit: magerleagues