Integrating brand strategy with content marketing

There are a lot of similar products on the market and, although, some purchasing decisions are a habit, there is a strong link to how brands position themselves and consumers’ buying behavior. Research has shown that over 50% of customers’ experience is based on emotions, which determine the attitudes that drive purchasing decisions. While rational thinking, analysis of features or functionality, and cost considerations impact behavior, emotions are the major driver. Although these may be unconscious, emotions can have a significant impact on brands and can determine the quality of the customer relationship, promote loyalty and propel advocacy. Apple is often presented as a brand that consumers favor across products, although Apple’s electronic devices share similar features with the competition.

A marketing strategy that is focused on strengthening customers’ emotional connection is likely to strengthen the brand. Content marketing is a powerful branding tool. When content marketing and brand messaging go hand in hand, the content becomes a brand driver, delivering relevancy and value to the buyer-seller conversation.

Markets are struggling in the transition into the digital world. As the world moves into digital media platforms, communities become more important and content marketing plays a significant role. At the Spring Silicon Valley Brand Forum (SVBF) last event, marketing and branding experts and consultants discussed the benefits and challenges in incorporating brand messaging with content marketing. The topic focused on “Brand Management: Rocket Fuel for Content Management”. SVBF aims to provide resources to brand professionals through sharing of best practices, providing networking opportunities, discussion of new ideas and the latest trends, and sharing brand challenges in the Silicon Valley highly competitive tech domain.

Content marketing is more than website pages, product documentation or user guides; it is more than email campaigns or press releases. Content marketing aligns with brand strategy with the goal of creating meaningful content for the brand, for customers and for the business.

One of the successful startups in the energy efficiency sector is Opower. The company’s business model utilizes software to create individualized home energy reports for utility customers. The reports analyze residents’ energy usage and offer recommendations on how to save electricity by reducing consumption. With Opower reports, each household saves an average of 2.5% on energy bills – not an enticing proposition for most users. However, at the utility scale, the accumulated energy savings in thousands or millions of homes has a key benefit to utility companies: electricity demand will go down, perhaps reducing the business need to invest in more generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.

How do utilities, who use oPower, engage customers? By providing a neighborhood comparison of energy consumption, residents get to see how they fair relatively in their community. In addition, such comparison also caters to a basic human trait: competition. I.e. instill the sense of competition among neighbors to further put more efforts into conserving electricity!

The idea is to make people feel connected to the brand and enrich their experiences. Engagement means different things to different companies, but some take the approach that the brand’s content strategy should include customers, the public and also employees. Internally, companies can build content awareness into the culture, where story-telling is key in conveying the content to to the public. Adobe recognized the importance of such holistic approach and has been aligning every employee around the brand strategy and the company’s content strategy. As Adobe moved from a product purchase model to a subscription model in the cloud, the company has taken a community based brand approach – telling customers stories in the actual customer voice.

What do brand experts and content strategists suggest?
Align all content creators in the company and be open to adjust. Maintain credibility by creating a consistent voice and make sure content doesn’t become ‘stale”. The tone and personality of the business must be retained in any content in order to keep the brand’s or product’s ‘character’.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Silicon Valley Brand Forum was formed in October 1999 by Kevin Heney, Ron May and Marty Brandt and has been directed by Kevin Heney for the past 15 years. The SVBF was formed out of a need for an opportunity for brand professionals to exchange real-world ideas about managing brands in the technology-rich Silicon Valley.

The format for the forums has been mostly panel discussions with seasoned brand professionals discussing relevant branding topics and opening the discussion to questions and answers throughout the event. We have partnered with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) for two events, one at Cisco and one at Intel, that included several presentations.
For more information and for future events check www.svbrandforum.com/