product Growth Strategy
Immersive Content Part I: start with the brand strategy
Published November 3rd, 2021
It’s near impossible for anyone in marketing to have missed the shift towards content and in turn, content marketing. After all, some of the biggest success stories have risen through a brand’s ability to craft, show and share content in engaging ways.
This article is the first of a three-part series on creating emotionally driven, immersive content. Part I focuses on your brand, and how it affects your content and content strategy. Part II focuses on the push-and-pull between traditional marketing content creation and branded content creation, while Part III looks towards the future of immersive content.
Sr. Director of Marketing at Tiny
What is a brand?
Brand is different things to different people, and depending on who you ask the chances are you’re going to get different answers. Even within a highly specialized marketing team, the chances are they’ll have slightly different opinions and ideas about what a ‘brand’ fully encapsulates.
As part of the research for this article, I simply searched in Google “What is a brand?” And it came up with the following answer:
“a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.”
But a brand is much more than a name. Or it should be much more. Modern brand building efforts are nothing like what was witnessed in the past — there are now entire disciplines within marketing (and design) that are solely dedicated to brand.
So, what is a brand? My idea of a brand is just that, mine, there truly is no globally accepted, industry traversing definition. To me, a brand is:
“The representation of who the business is at its core, driven by its customers and employees, personified and broadcasted to the wider world.”
That may sound like a bunch of philosophical words, but the core thing is that it’s about customers. It’s about creating and differentiating your company from the others out there, putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and showing them why you deserve their time, and loyalty.
The fact is, when you look at an advertisement from a company that claims it cares and you know that isn’t what the brand stands for (or does), then a disconnect occurs between you and that brand. Everything that comes out from a brand, should be reflected within that same brand.
A brand is much more than a name
Brand strategy framework we
used for Tiny
Recently we refreshed the Tiny brand, and whilst there was never an article on the preparatory marketing-driven process we did in the background, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It did, and part of it was reflected in the creation of a new logo for the Tiny brand.
In creating our Tiny brand for the future, we reflected on three areas:
INWARDS — WHO WE ARE
The first step, supported by our CEO, Andrew, involved company-wide workshops where we sought team member’s views on how they viewed Tiny and how they wanted us to be viewed within the wider tech world.
These conversations were invaluable. It was evident how much passion everybody — from our Engineers and Sales Team, to Customer Success and Finance — cared about our open source heritage. They really believed in our mission to democratize content creation. It was crystal clear. Therefore, being ingrained in who we are, our brand had to reflect that same belief to the outside world.
OUTWARDS — WHO OUR CUSTOMERS ARE
However, you can’t just focus on what your team thinks. You must also think of who your customers are and what they expect of you. TinyMCE is a development tool — we’re built by developers, for developers and we exist to make their lives better. We therefore needed to ensure that touchstone sat at the centre of the Tiny brand.
FORWARDS — WHERE WE WANT TO BE
Our brand refresh didn’t start with a colour palette, nor a logo sketch. It started with a message. To create the Tiny brand you see, our messaging framework was built by diving deep into the core of Tiny and redesigning it from the inside out. A brand isn’t faked, or created. It’s shaped from the DNA of our choices as team members, customers, and leaders.
Turning a brand into a strategy-in-action
The word strategy is thrown around a lot in marketing. (For that matter, it’s thrown across every business discipline.) But at the risk of sounding contrite, it must be said that a brand isn’t a strategy.
A brand is a framework – an essential piece of scaffolding that contains everything connected with your brand – and as such it needs constant investment, refinement and strengthening. But it also isn’t a solo-owned entity. What does that mean? A brand isn’t marketing, nor is marketing a brand.
Marketing may be the ‘owners’ of your brand, but they certainly can’t be the only ones invested in it’s creation and maintenance. To turn your brand into a strategy-in-action and use it as a tool to underpin your business and drive growth, you first need buy-in and support from across your entire business.
A brand isn’t marketing, nor is marketing a brand.
Brand messaging strategy - why it supports your brand
The brand and its strategies must flow through from the executive level, to every member of every team. That's why getting initial buy-in is so crucial. Every aspect of your brand needs to permeate everything you say and do – especially if like us, you’re a product-led organization.
It’s also why your brand messaging statement needs to be part of your company culture and be embodied throughout your team's actions. They should be bringing your brand to life.
By way of example, Tiny’s brand messaging statement is:
The building blocks behind great content creation experiences
Built to scale. Developed in open source.
Designed to innovate.
Tiny builds editing and digital asset management software for professional software developers who need to deploy faster and increase productivity for both their development team and end users.
Without compromising on quality or user experience, Tiny is trusted by some of the fastest growing startups and worlds biggest companies.
Big problems are solved with Tiny solutions.
As you can see, we’re making clear promises about what we want to stand for and who we serve. It’s our guiding North Star.
Because the statement was developed in lock-step with our wider organization, it serves as our framework for how we approach our product efforts and create a product strategy. It has encouraged the development of TinyMCE, Tiny Drive and MoxieManager and on the marketing side, it impacts our Go-To-Market strategy.
By approaching your brand as a framework, and implementing it into the heart and soul of your business, it becomes a driving force for creating strategies that tie your business together. The way forward becomes clearer.
Turning brand strategies into an immersive content strategy
Yes, there’s even more strategy to consider. Afterall, strategies permeate almost every aspect of how the business runs, including your content strategy.
Marketers are conditioned early on to consider content strategy within the context of a bigger marketing strategy. It’s actually something very different, but for the sake of this article we’ll keep things at a fairly high level.
A true content strategy is grounded in first understanding and then addressing the Why, Who and How (WWH). That’s often the opposite end to where most content marketers start – because their focus is on engagements, conversion, and fulfilling an internal need – but without knowing the WWH, you’re just throwing around money and effort in a dark echo chamber.
Part II of this series takes a more indepth look at the differences and how to approach your content strategy, so I’d encourage you to take the time to do some further reading.
Content strategy vs Content Marketing - What’s covered by the word content anyway?
Taking the bigger picture view is the biggest differentiator between content strategy and content marketing. A content strategy doesn’t just cover your blog, eBooks, lead magnets or news section. It encompasses everything and everywhere that you publish material about your company.
There should be a strategy behind the creation and direction of all that content, and it should permeate through all written, recorded or visualized material that’s distributed across all external and internal channels and platforms.
Next, let’s quickly look at what’s covered by the WWH.
This boils down to knowing
Why are you doing this?
Why do you want to communicate with customers?
Why do you want to create a single cohesive content framework that underpins all communications in the organization?
What will be the benefits of aligning everything under a single communication framework?
This question is continually being asked and reasked
Why are you doing this?
Your content shouldn’t be for every single person.
Clearly define who you want your content to talk to and engage.
Who will you (solely) focus on?
For example, Tiny’s brand messaging clearly focuses on developers.
Who are your ‘developers’? What do they need? What are their pain points? What are their desires? All of these core aspects need to be incorporated into your content strategy.
This is where you get more tactical
How are you going to implement this content?
What kind of content are you going to create?
Do you want to create an immersive website? Start a company blog? Vlog? Podcast?
All these should directly align with your audience, play to their content consumption preferences and how they desire to interact with your company (if at all).
You also need to determine how you’re going to position your content. What sets you apart from your competition? For instance, we’re the only brand in the rich text editing market who invests into Developer Advocacy and create in-depth tutorials and how-to’s on rich text editing experiences. What’s your differentiator?
The core thing to remember about branding in the 21st century, is the need to be flexible, adaptable and willing to shift with the market. Since our brand refresh in March 2021, we’ve been slowly shifting our content strategy as people interact and provide additional insights.
Nothing can ever be 100% set in stone. It’s an iterative process where your ultimate goals are to refine, improve and change things for the better. So that more people consume your content.
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