Let’s take a journey—a journey back in time to the year 2004.
It was seemingly simpler back in those days. Facebook was in its infancy with little data in its back pocket worth scandalizing, a politician was President, and Quiznos adopted singing “spongmonkeys” as their unofficial marketing mascots.
If you don’t recall these music-playing, creepy-eyed rodents, that’s what the archives of the Internet are for. If you do, then you might easily have that shrill voice proclaiming its love for subs and coupons through song now on replay in your head. Either way, it was slightly amusing and mostly terrifying, but what the campaign lacked in clear correlation to the brand, it made up for in memorability.
Flash forward and times are a changin’.
With Gen Z at the helm, marketers have found a need to connect with a deeper sense of self in appealing to the consumers of tomorrow. And while this doesn’t mean there’s no longer room for the strange and obscure, brands must increasingly turn to their digital marketing channels as vessels for purpose.
Digital Marketing Blurs the Lines
In understanding why a brand’s purpose should define its content strategy, it might be best to first get a read on why brands are even expected to have a greater purpose nowadays. Why do consumers now care so much about what motivates companies to do what they do? To sell what they sell?
It starts with the blurring of lines between seller and consumer; a breaking of the fourth wall, if you will.
The advent of social media and other notable digital marketing channels such as Google search, email, etc. has given people access to brands at a level that’s never before been experienced. Rather than just a smattering of magazine ads, billboards, television commercials, and the like, getting in front of people today now involves channels built around two-way conversations.
The floodgates have been opened, sponsored posts mingle with friends and family, and the comments box has turned brands human. To engage with people through channels developed for the sake of connectivity, connection inevitably becomes key. This is especially true at current points of saturation in which audience feeds see no shortage of content to consume.
This humanization of brands today in conjunction with high levels of competition have redefined the level of expectation and accountability consumers can set. Not only do they hold the power of the dollar and choice—they now have voice as well. And not aligning overall brand purpose with the value of your brand messaging leaves the door wide open for questions, comments, and all kinds of scrutiny.
Branded Content vs. Content Marketing
A brand’s purpose can be incorporated in any number of ways throughout its digital marketing efforts, but when it comes to content, there are a handful of approaches to take. Branded content involves the creation of content that is funded, produced, and typically makes mention of an advertiser. Content marketing is more about attracting and retaining customers through the creation and curation of relevant content based on their interests in conjunction with a brand.
Both sides of the spectrum involve a relaying of purpose on behalf of a brand. The differences are found in both subtlety and timeframe for success. With branded content, ROI is short. You flash before your audience’s eyes with a message void of recurring value and draw attention. With content marketing, the digital marketing distribution is more involved and catered towards an ongoing building of loyalty and trust, rather than quick bursts of visibility.
Budweiser is one brand challenging the status quo with a revisioning of how it speaks to fans through longform storytelling. Their conversation has changed from just beer to what they as a big brand can do to positively impact society. They use their advertising to highlight their natural disaster emergency relief efforts, awarding scholarships to families of fallen or injured veterans, and the use of renewable energy.
They have acknowledged the pain points we face as a society—as a single community—and use those purpose-driven messages to develop content. It’s not about the beer itself or what differentiates it from every other beer on the market. It’s more than the product because every sale they make is more than just a number; it’s a human being.
Why Your Brand’s Purpose Should Define Its Content Strategy
A brand’s purpose shouldn’t leave marketers scratching their heads in confusion. It’s simply about seeing the bigger picture through the lens of everything that makes us who we are. As people, our wants, fears, hopes—these emotions are what propel us forward and drive our choices.
The same can be said for a brand that’s chosen to elevate itself beyond product and reach the masses through content. If you want people to consume and connect with what’s at play in your digital marketing strategy, give them the opportunity to see themselves—their purpose—in what you have to give.
If you’re ready to take the leap into digital branding done human, connect with a team that puts data and people at the forefront of everything they do. Contact Mabbly today!