Brand & Content Interconnection
How does one affect the other and why is it important?
In the context of writing my Master's Thesis for the “Content Strategy” course at FH Joanneum Graz, I had to deepen my knowledge and understanding of how the meaning of the terms “brand” and “content” are connected from a strategic point of view.
I found that not often and not many people in our field try to really grasp the importance of these two terms when meddling with brand-driven strategies. So here’s a quick definition guide to help you clarify the interconnection between “brand” and “content” and their importance when establishing a brand-driven strategy.
Brand, Branding, Brand Strategy
The Journal of Marketing Management by Professor Peter Doyle of Warwick University defines the brand as a name, symbol, design, or some combination that identifies the product of a particular organization as having a substantial, differentiated advantage (O′Malley, 1991, p. 107). Many see a brand as something the customer knows and will react to while others define a brand as a set of tangible awareness and intangible attributes designed to create awareness and identity and to build the reputation of a product, service, person, place, or organization. (Wiley, 2014) For Wong and Merrilees, brands become an unseparated part of a firm’s value and an important strategic asset. (Wong & Merrilees, 2005)
Despite the formal definition, the purpose of branding is essentially to build the product′s image (Cleary, 1981). This image will influence the perceived worth of the product and will increase the brand′s value to the customer, leading to brand loyalty (The Economist, 1988). This process of creating a long-term plan used by a business to establish its brand identity and find a unique position in the minds of the target audience is called a brand strategy (or a branding strategy).
The objective of branding strategy is to create brands that are differentiated from the competition, Wiley continues to state. When high brand equity is achieved through brand differentiation, the price elasticity of demand becomes low, allowing the company to increase the price and improve profitability. (Wiley, 2014)
What is brand equity exactly, and how does one achieve it? David A. Aker defines brand equity as a set of assets (and liabilities) linked to a brand’s name and symbol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or that firm’s customers. Through asset categories such as Brand name awareness, Brand loyalty, Perceived Quality, and Brand associations, brand equity can generate value both for a firm and its customers. (Aaker, 1991)
Content & Content Strategy
How is content and its strategy connected to the brand? For entrepreneurs and startup founders, the consensus about content strategy seems to be skipping strategy and branding to either go straight to the execution or focus on product and engineering priorities (Thiel & Masters, 2014; Woods, 2020).
By definition, content is any text, image, video, decoration, or user-consumable elements that contribute to comprehension. (Scott & Bailie, 2014) However, when looking at the purpose of content in-depth, content becomes an important corporate asset. Potential customers see and judge your content assets before they ever see your physical assets. (Bailie & Urbina, 2013). Both Scott and Bailie agree that content functions as a business asset that we use to communicate with our customers, prospects, and investors. Content is how we communicate our brand, how we acquire and retain customers, how we drive our reputations, and how we build a social enterprise. It is the lifeblood of any organization. (Scott & Bailie, 2014)
In the same way, one needs a strategy in order to create and establish a brand. One must consider every possible way of managing content when creating it. For Prateek Sarkar, what storytelling is for a story, content strategy is for content. Margot Bloomstein defines Content Strategy by asking a question: How do you make smart choices to ensure the content types, tone, and media in experience support that experience in a way that’s appropriate to the brand and useful to its audience? (Bloomstein, 2012) Technically, a content strategy is a repeatable system that governs the management of content throughout the entire content lifecycle. (Bailie & Urbina, 2013)
Brand & Content Interconnection
Why are all the above important? Because the brand influences the content and vice versa. (Michl, 2017) As Bailie states, content is a critical part of your product or service. You cannot deliver a complete product or service without good information about it. Content is not only your intellectual property; content is the ambassador of your brand. (Bailie & Urbina, 2013)
As mentioned above, the core objective of a branding strategy is to establish a brand that differentiates from competitors successfully. This can work through the meaningful and purposeful use of content and the development of its strategy. To differentiate the company from competitors, content must specifically and authentically embody your brand. (Halvorson & Rach, 2012) On the other hand, the brand defines how the company addresses itself to the customers (tone, voice, visual design) (Michl, 2017) through content.
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