While you might think branding is more about your logo and other visual elements, content marketing plays an essential role in establishing your brand’s image too. Branding through content marketing allows you to tell your unique story, which can bring you closer to prospects and customers. In fact, research shows that 40% of brands stand out for memorable content, 33% for having a distinct personality, and 32% for compelling storytelling.
In this blog, we’ll explore the relationship between content marketing and branding to help you strengthen your relationships with customers and your overall brand identity.
Content Marketing vs. Branded Content
Let’s start by laying out the differences between content marketing and branded content.
Simply put, content marketing refers to creating, publishing, and sharing educational content crafted specifically for your target audience. Producing high-quality content allows you to demonstrate your expertise, which positions you as an authority in your industry. Types of content marketing include:
- Blogs and articles
- On-page content
Depending on your objectives, you can use content marketing to achieve any of the goals below:
- Grow brand awareness and expand your reach
- Attract new prospects
- Convert leads into sales
- Nurture relationships with your existing customers
- Cultivate brand loyalty
Consistently producing relevant content your target audience finds useful and informative helps you stand out from the competition. It also makes you more memorable, as readers will associate you with innovation and quality.
Branded content (and branding strategy) shares many of the same objectives of content marketing, like increasing brand awareness and engaging prospects. However, branded content focuses more on directly promoting your business’ products and services. It should still provide some kind of educational value for readers, though.
Because it helps you forge emotional connections with your audience, branded content allows you to demonstrate and connect with human feelings and values. And studies show that 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend brands with whom they have an emotional connection. Branded content is often humorous or entertaining, especially when it takes the form of videos, photos, surveys, and quizzes.
If you’re looking to quickly create a positive reaction within your audience that boosts brand loyalty, you should seriously consider branded content.
The Importance of Having a Brand Story
Every brand has a story. Customers want to know where you started, how you got to where you are, and what you believe in. Sharing your story helps humanize your brand and gives audiences a clear picture of the people behind the business.
Telling your brand story also allows you to relay what might otherwise be dry, uninteresting information in the form of an engaging narrative. At the end of the day, a compelling, relatable brand story plays a central role in customers choosing you over the competition. This can take the form of joining your email list, downloading a lead magnet, or making a purchase, among other actions.
How to Tell Your Brand Story with Content Marketing
While it isn’t as directly promotional and brand-focused as branded content, content marketing tactics can still help you tell your brand story. Here are a few ways you can tell your brand story by leveraging the relationship between content marketing and branding.
Tailor Your Content to the Buyer’s Journey
One of the pillars of strategic content marketing is producing useful content that’s relevant to users at their specific point in the buyer’s journey. For example, content in the awareness stage should educate users while gently introducing them to your brand. On the other hand, decision stage content should clinch the sale by concretely showing users what sets you apart from the competition.
Integrate Customers Into Your Brand Story
Producing helpful, relevant content starts with keeping users at the forefront of your mind (and brand story) at all times. Stay focused on your audience’s specific needs and pain points, and position your brand as the solution to their problems.
Doing so helps you build trust and makes them more likely to turn to you when they encounter similar obstacles in the future. In fact, 51% of consumers expect brands to create products and experiences they want before they even realize they need them.
Let Your Brand’s Passions Shine Through
A final effective way to establish branding through content marketing is to share your passion and excitement with users. Get them as excited as you are about your products, services, and the industry as a whole. This will humanize your brand by making you more relatable and positioning you as someone who understands their pain points.
How Your Voice, Tone, and Style Impact Brand Storytelling
Every brand has their own voice, tone, and style in both their spoken and written communication. Your company’s unique tone of voice encompasses how you speak to your audience and heavily influences how you’re perceived as a business. Your tone of voice also conveys your personality and values, both of which are key to branding strategy and content marketing.
A distinctive and memorable tone of voice allows audiences to recognize you without seeing your name or logo. It also helps you stand out from the competition because you stay top-of-mind with interested prospects.
Let’s take a closer look at the three most important technical elements of brand storytelling: voice, tone, and style.
Voice refers to the personality, rhythm, pace, and vocabulary behind how your brand speaks to the world. When creating written and spoken content, it’s crucial to remember that every choice you make impacts how your audience perceives you. Being thoughtful and intentional with your brand voice can be the difference between connecting with audiences emotionally or alienating them entirely.
As a general rule, you should avoid overly-technical language or industry jargon, unless it can be understood by most of your readers. Using simpler language also makes you feel more relatable and transparent. Don’t be too colloquial, though, as expressions change over time, making you seem dated.
Tone (also known as tone of voice) is the emotional inflection (or lack thereof) that guides your brand voice. In other words, it’s how you express your voice within the context of a specific situation. You’ll want to adjust your brand’s tone of voice based on who you’re talking to, your subject matter, and your medium. However, your overall brand voice should remain consistent across every interaction you have with your audience.
Your brand’s tone of voice is composed of four main dimensions:
- Funny vs. serious
- Formal vs. casual
- Respectful vs. irreverent
- Enthusiastic vs. matter-of-fact
How you leverage these dimensions and blend them together to create your brand’s tone of voice is entirely up to you. But when developing and refining your tone of voice, you should pay close attention to:
- The way your writing sounds when you read it out loud.
- The etymology of your writing and which words are best suited for different situations.
- The syntax of how your words are arranged within sentences.
Most importantly, remember that creating a trustworthy and authentic tone of voice is one of the most important facets of strategic content marketing for brands.
The final piece of the puzzle when it comes to telling your brand story, style refers to what your writing looks like. Essentially, it’s the way your messaging is written and includes things like capitalization, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary.
Your style signals to readers what you’re about and gives them a preview of your brand voice when they start reading your content. Make sure your style aligns with each person’s position in the buyer’s journey to maximize your relatability.
Look to Your Audience When Developing Voice, Tone, and Style
The most effective way to develop your brand’s voice, tone, and style is to closely analyze your target audience. Ask yourself questions like:
- What communication channels does my audience prefer?
- What social media platforms are they most active on?
- How do they communicate with one another?
- What brands do they engage with on social media?
- What do they “like” and “dislike” on social media?
You’ll also want to create a unique persona for each of your target audiences that includes criteria like gender, marital status, educational background, income level, and interests. Personas help you better understand your ideal customers (and the differences between them), so you can produce relevant content that achieves your goals within each stage of the buyer’s journey.
When you’re intimately familiar with your customers’ wants and needs, you can also adopt their language and work it into your messaging. This makes you much more relatable, while also helping you build trust and demonstrate empathy.