Brands are all about stories. As Yuval Noah Harari tells it in Homo Deus, where Zeus once occupied the minds of man, now it is the brands of our time. In the case of brands with powerful missions, this can be used for good.
Our favourite brands occupy space in our mind and are shaped by our imagination of what they mean and how they fit into our life.
They matter to us because their stories match our own.
They're aligned with our values and our aspirations.
We look up to them and trust that they are who they say they are.
They help us to make our lives better, both through their products and the content they produce.
By providing us with valuable content that goes beyond their key product offering, they become a content brand.
What is a content brand?
A content brand goes beyond their core product offering to deliver ideas, inspiration, guidance and resources that provide their customers and followers with massive additional value.
They build their authority, credibility and crowd of loyal supporters by providing so much more than their core product offering. In fact, their content becomes one of their core products – and it not only sells itself, but all of the business's other products too.
When we let a content brand into our lives, we trust that they are going to provide much more than just a product.
Say we buy some yoga leggings from Lululemon and subscribe to their newsletter after completing the online checkout. We also follow them on Instagram and Pinterest. We not only have our high-end yoga leggings to Warrior I in, we also have personalized advice in our inbox about how to optimise our yoga practice and invite more zen into our lives. We have inspiration in our social feeds to help us cultivate the lifestyle we wish to lead – one that includes wearing our favourite Lululemon leggings.
Content brands can be our business consultants, life coaches, nutritionists, fashion advisors, therapists, or motivational speakers. They improve our lives.
They can provide advice that's worth paying for, without that being the founding principle of their business. As a content brand's business scales, these extra roles can prove more powerful at building a loyal crowd of brand ambassadors than the product itself.
Rather than putting your content as an additional layer on top of your product, I think of content as part of the foundation of your business, sitting next to your values and mission. Everything else is built on top of that foundation – and propped higher because of it as well as made more secure.
Here's what content brands have in common.
1. They understand the hearts of their customers
and they truly care about them, even after the sale is done.
2. They know what kind of life their customers want to design for themselves
so they know what their job as a content brand needs to involve to help them get there.
3. They know exactly why they're in business
and after they think they're defined this, they keep going until they have something so compelling and accurate that they could hang it above their desk and let it inspire them to get to work every morning
4. They know their reputation depends on their quality
so they passionately believe in making every customer interaction count and always over-delivering.
5. They are human
and they embrace their brand's warmth, starting with their people. They ask: what personalities do we have in our team? How can we use who we are, what we know, and what we have to improve our customers lives beyond our product?
They let their skills, personality and experience come out through their content and keep evolving.
6. They are consistent
because they know that consistency means authenticity and trust.
They get this across with the content they produce.
Content brands have resources dedicated to planning, producing and delivering content that their audience will love. They don't cut corners with quality and they're in it for the long-term. They don't believe in quick fixes when it can cause problem two years down the line.
They know which channels their audience love most and how they want to consume their content. They know the frequency, length, and topics that work best because they've tracked this, carried out A/B testing, and continually tweaked and optimised – and because they know exactly who their audience is.
Every day, content brands provide massive value and make a real difference to their customer's lives just by existing and doing business. It takes prioritisation and dedication, but the results down the line are second to none.