How corporate branding and content marketing work together
Your corporate brand isn’t just a logo and some nice colours (although those are a start). It’s the heart and soul of your business – the five Ws and H: Who, what, why, where, when and how.
Branding is a message, a promise. It’s a differentiator, and it’s a memory. It can make or break how people see you, and considering content marketing is the window through which this happens, the two concepts are utterly intertwined in every fathomable way.
…aaaand that’s enough of the enticing brand talk over. It’s time to dig into some actual information! Today, we’re going to answer these questions:
- What does ‘corporate branding’ really mean?
- Does it impact marketing effectiveness?
- How do I establish a brand?
- In what ways are content marketing and corporate branding joined at the hip?
What does ‘corporate branding’ really mean?
A good corporate brand is many things. Instantly you’re probably thinking “Logo! It’s a logo!”, and that’s technically accurate, but a well-designed logo is only a part of a wider brand strategy.
At the top level, a brand is what people think and feel when they encounter your business. If that feeling is inconsistent between encounters (e.g. your website, blog and customer service people don’t talk or speak or act the same way), people won’t know what to make of you.
Corporate branding includes:
- Your company’s purpose: Why do you exist? What is your business’s reason for being here? Go back to your brand position statement and make sure it’s fleshed out.
- How you speak: Are you sassy, serious, friendly, controversial? Everything you do should have a consistent voice.
- How you act: What advertising methods do you use? Do you take part in any charity work or other social causes? What events do you sponsor? Every time your brand is seen, people form an opinion. The context in which they see your business can impact that opinion. Think about how weird it would be to see McDonald’s advertising at a healthy foods festival.
Does corporate branding have an impact on marketing effectiveness?
Oh boy yes! If your marketing materials aren’t aligned, people won’t know what to feel.
If marketing materials aren’t aligned, customers won’t know how to feel about you.
Customers can form a first impression in as little as 33 milliseconds (University of York), meaning if your brand doesn’t give off the right signals instantly, someone could take away the wrong message.
Even more importantly, according to marketing specialist Pam Moore, it takes five to seven brand impressions before someone will properly remember your brand. So while you could argue that this means businesses have a few chances to get it right, if you have an inconsistent brand experience people will either not know what to remember, or remember the wrong thing.
Either way, customers forming the wrong impression could lead to poor marketing results (e.g. you might draw in an inappropriate target audience, which means they’re less likely to convert – that’s money wasted!).
What effect might this have on my SEO?
If poor branding leads to a poor user experience, this could in turn lead to poor SEO results. Google favours websites with high engagement ratings (lots of time spent on your website, plus low bounce rates). If people dislike your website and bounce off, this could directly harm your rankings.
We're talking through what website features impact #SEO, why your site needs to be mobile friendly & the tools you can use to squeeze the most out of your company’s corner of the internet. These quick tips could help save your organic rankings. https://t.co/ahvha8ljw0— Castleford Media (@castlefordmedia) June 20, 2019
OK, so how do I establish my corporate branding?
We could write novels about this, but to save you time we’re going to give you the basic steps in about 300 words. Ready?
Steps to setting up an aligned corporate brand strategy
- Audit your current state: Look at your website, logo, marketing collateral, mission statement, current sponsorships, etc. How are you speaking and acting? What do you look like, and what impression is it giving to customers?
- Plan out where you’d rather be: How do you want customers to feel when they see or hear you? Combine your brand position statement from earlier with the emotions you want customers to feel. Write this down – this is becoming your brand position.
- Align everything and everyone: We need to get all of your business, top to bottom, onto the same page. Everyone should be speaking and acting in the same manner, and all your ads, brochures, etc. should have the same voice and visual style, both of which match the requirements of your target audience.
- Zhuzh up your image if need be: If your visuals don’t match the new brand, they need redone. You’ll have to hire professional graphic designers for this part.
So what do I ask my designers for?
- A logo.
- Brand colours.
- An overall ‘style’.
These might seem like unimportant details but they make a difference. Take a look at the image below – those fonts feel super different, right?
Colours also tell a story. Coschedule actually has a fantastic guide on how colours can impact psychology in marketing materials. We recommend you check it out!
All your visuals, especially your logo, should be instantly recognisable, unique to your business, and appropriate for your target audience and brand position. Most importantly, they should be aligned and consistent!
300 words. Phew!
Content marketing and corporate branding
We’ve talked a lot about corporate branding and not a lot about content marketing. But, really, now that you know the basics of a good brand strategy, you can start to imagine how it directly relates to content marketing.
Content marketing materials are customer touch points - and every customer touch point is an opportunity to impress.
Content marketing is how you talk with most of your digital audience. Blogs, social media, Google Ads, each of these is a customer touch point – and every customer touch point (or at least the first 33 milliseconds of one) is an impression formed about your business.
Three ways your brand impacts content
- Visual style: How does your content look? Is it modern and slick, reserved but professional, friendly and fun?
- Voice: With what voice do you create content? The professional businessperson or the bubbly young traveller?
- Chosen content: What topics do you cover, and what content types do you choose to cover said topics? Think about a company that produces highly technical whitepapers accompanied by high-level blogs, versus the company that produces animated videos, fun infographics and lighthearted list articles.
So you see, without a set corporate branding strategy to which your entire business is aligned, your content has less direction. And that direction could be the difference between someone remembering you, or utter confusion.