Contrary to legions of brand-centric content marketing efforts, the true art of communication lies in storytelling, not narcissistic acclaims. Brand journalism to many equates to an oxymoron, but savvy writers and marketers know better.
The content you create to tout the awesomeness of your brand can be just as engaging and memorable as a favorite life-changing novel. This is an art form like any other; it requires a clear sense of who you’re writing for, a fantastic writer, and a story you know your audience wants to hear. Create the right balance of pizzazz, valuable information, and targeted content placement, and brand journalism can change the projection of your business for good.
Here are a few essential brand journalism tips that can turn your efforts from boring to soaring:
#1: Don’t Write a Single Word Until You’ve Done Your Homework
Marketers often maintain a sense that the Internet is a forgiving space where you can throw out messages and tweak them as you go. Not so, in the case of brand journalism. If you start marketing your brand without fully understanding your desired image and audience, you can absolutely blow the entire effort. You know that thing they say about first impressions? It’s cliche because it’s true. Don’t send out a single sentence touting your business until you’re clear on who you are, and who needs to know you exist.
#2: Truly Care About Your Audience and Industry
False sincerity wreaks, and sophisticated consumers sniff this out immediately. Therefore, it’s wise to generally care about your customers, and the industry you’re a part of. And don’t be afraid to show that sincere concern. In the words of Sara de Dios Lopez, Global Director of Meaningful Brands:
If companies and brands do not really care about people, society and the planet, they cannot expect people to care much about them.
#3: Fewer Words, More Magic
Images are absolutely priceless when conveying the image you have for your brand. Pictures and video convey the emotion you’d like to conjure far better than a bundle of well-strung words. And that’s exactly what you should be after as you choose visual media for your content — emotion. Limit boring stock photos and instead opt for those that, like your copy, attempt to tell a story. Just make sure the emotions conveyed are ones you want associated with your brand.
To quote marketer David Armano:
Blogs are about sharing with authenticity. A good enterprise blog can help you really connect deeply with your customers in a meaningful way because the content is not only relevant but insightful and personal. I think most enterprises miss that point. When you do it right, your customers will walk away not only having learned something new but will also feel much more connected to your brand.
Need an inspiring example? Check out VP of Marketing at Boeing Randy Tinseth’s blog. He does an excellent job of conveying the mystique, freedom, and romance associated with flying via his pictures and posts.
#4: Be Ridiculously Timely
Take a cue from marketing genius David Meerman Scott and consider empowering your marketing team to be bona fide newsjackers. Newsjackers pounce on newsworthy moments as they are unfolding, rather than waiting for other outlets to cover the events. Nothing generates more boredom or a lack of authority in your brand journalism than content that is outdated or off the mark with modern events. Even if you don’t partake in newsjacking, make sure you are adequately timely, and that current events you highlight are relevant to your brand.
#5: Trade Begging for Amazement
Many examples of brand marketing come across more like feeble attempts to amass readership. Instead of creating a tone of attention-seeking desperation, create informative and well-written content that strikes a chord with readers because it’s damn good, not because you’ve guilted them into caring. More often, this content will have nothing to do with the specifics of your company, and everything to do with the industry you play in.
The Southwest Airlines blog is a prime example. They post informative articles about the airline industry as a whole, occasionally mentioning how their company fits in, but never making that the focal point. The result is brand content with personality and value, and an attitude of “We’re the cool kids” over “Someone please be my friend.”
#6: Break Your Own Mold
Even if you’re lucky enough to hit a groove of popular, audience-expanding content, never let your brand marketing efforts become predictable or stale. Having the courage to experiment and try new tactics will keep your audience engaged and interested, rather than bored. The moment you become predictable is the moment you start losing their attention, so always have the creativity and chutzpah to continue branching out. This means keeping up to date on marketing trends as a whole, and finding inspiration in every nook and cranny.
The truth is, brand marketing is a respectable, challenging, integral form of marketing. If content creators lose the ability to draw people in by conveying stories and emotions associated with a brand, the spirit of competition becomes diluted and bland. We live in a world where quality always, always trumps quantity for brand marketing that seeks longevity; so resist the urge to find a quick fix and hire a talented team that will bring your awareness of your company to the highest possible level.
Image by Barak Kassar.