Brand content vs marketing content: Immersive Content part II
Published November 22nd, 2021
In a content driven world, it’s increasingly hard to differentiate yourself from the competition. It’s no longer enough to publish a blog post, podcast, or stock standard content piece to set yourself, and your brand, apart. The world is now immersive – surrounding you with interactive, clickable content – that's become the new frontier of innovation in written content.
This is Part II in a series on immersive content. It covers the difference between branded content and content marketing. Part I focused on how integral a brand is to your business and where you should start with any content journey. Our final, Part III article, looks at the future of immersive content.
Sr. Director of Marketing at Tiny
What’s brand content?
Most companies believe they’re already building brand content, and if you’re creating content that carries your logo then indeed it’s branded content (in the literal sense of the word). But, that isn’t brand content. Following the same thinking, most people would therefore consider thought leadership to be brand content. However, according to Hubspot, Thought Leadership is:
Thought leadership is a tactic content marketers use to build credibility for themselves or leaders in their company. The main goal of thought leadership is to become recognized as an expert and used as a go-to resource in your field. To become a thought leader, one might create and promote educational, helpful content and become active in the industry community, particularly on social sites.
So where does the line between brand content and thought leadership collide? Is there a place for thought leadership to reside, within brand content? Yes.
Brand content is about putting the company in the spotlight. It’s an immersive storytelling initiative that’s designed to generate an emotional reaction from the audience.
During the initial months of the COVID-19, there was a sharp increase in brand content, where companies published adverts, blogs and social media posts about how they cared and supported you during the pandemic. The ones you believed were those where the message aligned with their internal brand ethos, they weren’t selling anything, and they followed through on any promises or commitments made.
What are other types of brand content?
Many may consider our State of Rich Text Editing 2021 Survey as brand content – which it is.
It was conceived and created with the sole purpose of serving our audience and publishing insights that our developer and product management audiences are interested in knowing.
It wasn’t developed to garner direct conversions, nor drive a precise amount of revenue. Instead, its development was aimed at generating goodwill, educating and inspiring an audience of developers to more deeply involve themselves within the rich text editing community. It’s an example of immersive brand content in action.
Brand content is a long tail approach
The fact is, a lot of brand content comes out of your content marketing team – it predominantly does here too. However, the difference is that the general intent of content marketing is to educate as well as get people interested in your brand and move them through your funnel – by providing interesting, thought provoking content.
By contrast, brand content is about the brand, the company and helping people, but the pressure of making a sale isn’t immediate – if it occurs down the road, or not at all, both outcomes are perfectly fine. (I mean, if we’re honest, isn’t that what this article is trying to do right now?)
Brand content puts selling aside and instead focuses on amplifying your brand and building goodwill – the halo effect – around its activities. It isn’t about helping you hit those sales numbers. However, that said, when brand content is executed in tandem with content marketing and other efforts, you should see complimentary rises in results and revenue growth, because they behave in concert, as siamese twins. In my opinion, they amplify your other efforts.
So… what’s content marketing?
Content marketing is about selling the brand, and making a sale. Currently, 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing, and no-one is going to consistently invest in content and content creation, if it doesn’t deliver some kind of results.
So, how exactly does content marketing differ from brand content? The three-fold purpose of content marketing is to create loyalty, readership and sales. It’s written, developed and executed for the sole purpose of gaining exposure for your brand, product or service, and converting people into paying customers.
A perfect example is our The Great Debate: Buy vs Build Rich Text Editors white paper, or indeed most of the content on our Blueprint blog. When conceiving our whitepaper, we took a step back, looked at our sales process and determined the biggest roadblocks for Product Managers and developers, when purchasing or recommending a rich text editor.
From there we worked with our Content, Engineering and Product Teams to develop a comprehensive, downloadable whitepaper that set out the specific buy vs build arguments for and against incorporating a rich text editor component in any software project.
Yes, ultimately it may perhaps increase win rates and decrease our sales deal length. But it was also about explaining the intricacies and complexities of what's involved in building a rich text editor, versus buying a proven third-party component. So, as a piece of content marketing, we balanced the sales potential with the educational aspect of it, to ensure it aided both goals.
The resultant The Great Debate: Buy vs Build Rich Text Editors white paper, is therefore an example of quality, immersive and interactive content marketing.
However, many companies can’t invest in this kind of content all the time. It’s not only expensive to design and implement, it also takes a long time to research, write and edit. Therefore, when it comes to written content, most brands rely on the tried and tested formula of regularly posting on their company blog.
Larger companies have the funds to invest in teams of content writers whose sole job it is to write, edit and publish content on a regular cadence in order to generate buzz, nurture leads and get results. But regardless of your size and budget, quality blog posts are the bread and butter of most marketing content professionals.
What’s better, brand content or content marketing?
First answer: there is no better or worse. It’s entirely dependent on what you’re trying to achieve with your campaign, and marketing. One (or the other) may better suit your situation. However, there are also legitimate reasons to invest in both brand content and content marketing at the same time.
When it comes to making your investment decision in either brand content or content marketing, it’s integral to the process that you step back and think about your goals – they’ll likely determine and drive exactly how (and where) you invest in content.
Some thoughts for you to consider:
- If you’re looking for brand impact and not sales, a brand content piece may be the way to go.
- If you’re looking to nurture, grow, engage and eventually convert your readers, then chances are you’re better off putting this into the hands of content marketing.
A small side note/trick – if you’re looking for a purely brand related piece, you may consider engaging either your communications or public relations team to help you, instead of purely relying on your content marketers.
Brand content creation takes a different skill and approach, which most content marketers haven’t encountered. By engaging specialist resources outside your content marketing team, those specialists are able to spend time focussing on your brand-building activities.
However, if you’re in a smaller organization that doesn’t have a large team of specialists to support you, it’s often good to turn to your brand architect – the head of marketing, CEO or founder – to give you additional insight into the story behind your brand and its content pieces.
If you’re looking for a purely brand related piece, you may consider engaging either your communications or public relations team to help you, instead of purely relying on your content marketers.
Where to from here?
The content landscape is an ever-evolving beast as the marketplace and media platforms continue to mature and change. When it comes to developing content, whatever its form, you really need to make sure you pick the right style of content for your brand.