Brand Strategy vs Content Marketing Strategy
People often think that a content marketing strategy and a brand strategy are one and the same. They aren’t. In fact, the lack of understanding of both is the main reason most people get frustrated and the main reason with their marketing efforts becomes a waste of time and money. While it’s important to understand they are not the same, you need to understand they do relate to each other; Brand strategy should inform content marketing strategy and content marketing strategy should include the overall “feel” of your brand from your brand strategy.
Understanding the difference between both is vital to ensure that they work together to build a thriving brand.
What Is a Brand Strategy?
A brand strategy is the foundation of your business. It encapsulates and articulates who you are, why you exist, what you do, and how you communicate. In its essence, brand strategy is reputation building.
Creating your brand strategy requires not only deep thinking but creative thinking and execution. This includes:
Articulating your brand core (vision, mission, values, and purpose)
Understanding the people you’re trying to reach
Identifying your USP/brand positioning (compared to your competitors, position your brand as different from a competitor. I like to say, the best way to compete is to not compete. Don’t try to be “better”. Instead, find gaps in your competitors’ brand and fill in those needs for consumers.)
Creating your brand identity and guidelines (brand voice, tone, visual identity, etc.)
Crafting brand messaging (tagline, brand stories, etc.)
Creating a content marketing strategy to help you achieve your business goals (this includes your content strategy)
What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?
Your content marketing strategy is how you intend to communicate with your audience. It’s the literal storytelling component encompassed by a brand strategy through content. Content strategy is aggregating information to help customers make an informed decision to purchase. Content marketing is needed to communicate the perspective of your audience. It does not matter what you think or how you feel. Creating content isn’t about you! The most effective way to get people to listen to you is through empathy, then you follow up with logic. “I hear what you’re going through.. This can help.
Like brand strategy, a content marketing strategy is the blueprint, but it's the blueprint for how you’re going to use content to support your brand strategy. This includes:
Goals and definitions (to understand what you’re trying to achieve in service of your brand strategy)
Buyer's Journey (Free Download: Buyer's Journey Workbook)
Crafting a content strategy can feel overwhelming, and it does take time. You might have to hit the pause button on your content machine, reallocate some funds for branding or rebranding. But it’s crucial to do so to provide clarity, create a measurable framework, and empower business to work more effectively. And that’s the key to great content marketing.
Additionally, a documented strategy can help you track your own thinking and strategy. The more you test, the smarter you get.
How to Make Sure Your Content Marketing Strategy Supports Your Brand Strategy
The relationship between brand and content marketing can be murky if you’ve jumbled them all together. This makes each ineffective and leads to a lot of frustration. To avoid this, here are a few tips to help keep things clear.
If You Don’t Have A Brand Strategy Get One. It may seem inconvenient to dismantle the house and start from scratch. But if you don’t have a solid brand strategy, (your core identity, your purpose, vision, mission, values) you can’t work effectively or efficiently as these elements influence everything you do should influence everything you do.
Know Who You’re Trying to Reach. Your content can’t make an impact if people don’t care about it. You need to know what will strike a chord with people. That means you need to learn more about the people you’re trying to reach and what they are going through right now. A content strategy fills in the gaps here, pushing you to define (and document) who they are, what motivates them, where they are in the buyer’s journey, and what problems you can help them solve through content. It also helps you identify the right channels to reach them so that you can identify not just the stories to tell but the formats that will resonate best.
Design matters. A well-thought-out strategy is critical, but design is equally important. Creating content that is on-brand, consistent, and easy to navigate is crucial to appeal to people and make content easier to comprehend.
Content Strategy isn’t permanent. Most importantly, as you begin to implement your content strategy, remember to experiment, test, and tweak according to your needs. A good brand strategy provides a foundation, but it’s content strategy, is not set in stone. The more adaptable you are, the more effective you’ll be.
Your brand strategy and your content strategy both serve the same goal: to strengthen and grow your brand.
The distinction between brand strategy and content marketing strategy is pretty much this:
BRAND STRATEGY = The Plan to Achieve Big Idea
CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY = The Tool to Execute the Plan to Achieve the Big Idea
A brand is a promise. It sets an expectation of an experience. Branding is the process of ensuring the promise is realized at every touch point. Marketing is about communicating the brand promise to consumers/customers.
Ask for help if you need it. If you’re stuck or need a fresh pair of eyes, I’m always happy to have a chat about it.