Today, the power of your brand should not be underestimated. Whilst “brand” has a different interpretation depending on who you speak to, the underlying power of a brand and its reputation is playing an important part in the buyer decision-making process.
Your brand is about so much more than just your logo and the colours and fonts you use. Your brand is the entire identity of your business. Your brand is your personality, from the way you talk to customers to the products you produce or the service you deliver.
Whilst branding has always been important, the rapid rise of social media and online shopping means that brand is more important than ever.
Consumers are introduced to new brands every day. Brands they never knew existed suddenly pop up in their social feeds or when they carry out a search on Google. Whilst it can be difficult for these brands to make a lasting impression, the growing competition is making it harder for businesses to stand out.
This is one of the reasons why established brands continue to perform so well. There is a strong element of trust. When consumers see content from a brand they know and trust, they are much more likely to engage.
This is the challenge faced by lesser-known brands. How do they go from relative unknown to trusted and recognised?
This is where brands have to go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd. Investing in strong branding is a great place to start. It’s important to take control over the way people perceive your brand and it’s also important that everyone that works for your business buys into that brand – they are a huge part of the brand and when your staff are on board, it makes it much easier to build a brand that is trusted and recognised.
The power of branded content
In early 2021, Contently conducted a survey of 1,072 Americans to find out what they wanted from branded content. The results were fascinating.
Whilst most of the respondents reported that they encountered branded content on a regular basis, their preferences for what they wanted to see from branded content were surprising.
Whilst the results were surprising, they do help to identify some potential opportunities for brands to investigate different avenues when it comes to branded content.
Here are some of the key findings from the Contently research.
Visual content is king
Whilst people have been banging the “content is king” drum for years now, there is a very clear demand for a more specific type of content – visual.
When asked, “Which content format do you enjoy the most?”, video came out on top, with 30% of respondents reporting that this was the most enjoyable form of branded content. This is not groundbreaking, headline-making news, I know.
The second most popular type of content, however, is a little more surprising.
With 28% of the vote, visual content including stills, memes and photography is perhaps a little bit more surprising. Stills and photos we totally get, but memes seem like a very grey area for brands.
Branded memes seem a little bit like brands are trying too hard to be cool. However, there is no doubt that people love memes. That’s where brands need to overcome the challenge and find a way to make memes a part of their brand strategy (where appropriate) without looking lame.
Interestingly, in a separate study, Contently found that less than 10% of the 530 marketers included in the research were prioritising this type of content.
This is not a surprising statistic. Many marketers are scared of branded memes and with just cause. They are challenging to get right so many brands take the easier route and stick to tried and tested stills or photography.
This does mean there is an opportunity for those brands willing to take a punt. As the Contently article says, you have to “Hire people who inherently love and understand social platforms. If the person running your Twitter doesn’t know how to speak Twitter, they’re unlikely to succeed.”
When brands do get it right and find the right people that really connect with customers through the relevant platforms, great things can happen.
In a former life when I worked as a social media manager, we used to have a mantra that our content should look to achieve one of three things every time we posted: educate, entertain or inform.
Working for a University, we had a pretty even split across those three areas and we placed a lot of value on the education strand for obvious reasons.
Today, people are turning to brands they trust that are producing brilliant educational content. That’s because consumers value the expertise of the brands that they trust.
Imagine if you wanted to learn how to train to run a marathon. Would you trust content produced by Nike? Absolutely you would. That’s because you would trust them based on their expertise and their experience working with athletes.
If you are a company trying to build your brand, think about the expertise you have within your business and how best you could share that expertise in a way that would add value to your customers and prospective customers.
The Contently research found that 58% of respondents were more likely to take a free course created by a brand and this presents an opportunity for many businesses.
Showcase your social impact
A few months back, we wrote a piece of content that talked about the value of storytelling. Instead of simply writing a blog, we encouraged people to tell a story. Our post focused on telling a story to sell a product and there were some great examples in the post from brands including Microsoft, Salesforce and SEMrush who all use storytelling to help them to sell their products.
Taking this one step further, the research carried out by Contently found that 49% of consumers would be much more likely to buy something from a brand if they had read a story about the positive impact that brand was making on the world. A further 25% said they would be somewhat more likely to purchase from a brand that is having a positive impact on the world around them.
This is not just about telling a story. This is about walking the walk as well.
Being able to tell a story about the positive impact your business is having on the world means that your brand first has to have a positive impact on the world.
Whether this is your commitment to recycling, initiatives to reduce carbon emissions or housing honeybees on your roof, commit to making a difference in the world and then you can earn the right to tell that story to consumers.
The power of branded content should not be underestimated, and brands need to understand that brand goes way beyond logos and colours.
We have covered off three potential ways for brands to maximise content and reach new audiences as well as make existing customers more likely to purchase.
There are many more examples of the way brands should be using content to maximise brand exposure.
As well as helping to build trust, brand also creates loyalty. You don’t just want customers that recognise your brand and use your business once. You want to attract customers that come back time and time again.
Good branding helps to achieve this. Showcase your personality and human side and customers will start to relate more.
Your staff are an essential part of this. Once they have “bought in” to your brand, they naturally act as brand ambassadors and bring allow that personality to shine through.
In the same way that humans develop and evolve, and our personalities grow and develop, so do brands. Make sure you bring everyone involved with the business along with you on the journey including your staff and customers and you will reap the rewards.