How brand ties into content

Managing a Brand Course

Module 2 - Lesson 1

 

Welcome to the first lesson of the second module, branding and content. In this lesson, we’ll be learning more about why content matters in the context of brand management. By content, I’m referring to visuals like images,infographs, illustrations, videos or banners, as well as text and other written materials like blog posts, white papers, and presentations. Many professionals associate content with departments like communications and marketing, and perceive branding as logos, fonts and templates that should be used. But there is a deeper link between the messages that come out of your company and the brand that you have. 

When it comes to how people perceive your company, there are two main things you need to get right: what you do and how you communicate it. For example, if your company aspires to be known for its values for being an innovative company, you need to have innovation in your DNA with everything you do. You need to take chances, offer different solutions, put effort in research, and more. But you also need to share content that resonates with innovation in order to break through to your audience. If there is a disconnect between what your brand talks about and what it does, you are likely to run into one of the three tricky situations:

1. Trying to clean up your brand 

Basically, you are trying to, accidentally or on purpose, sound better than you are in some way. The underlying problem in this situation is that your content and your communications do not match what you are doing. As you can imagine, this type of disconnect can lead to a lot of problems for your brand reputation.  Let’s look at an example.  

The H&M Group has created an initiative where you can bring used or broken textile products to their shop and they will then recycle the materials for you in an effort to promote circular economy and to look like a company that takes the impact of fastfashion seriously. Unfortunately for them, a Danish television programme calledOperation X found out that they are secretly burning thousands of tonnes of unsold garments, which is obviously the opposite of circular economy. Not a great look for H&M. 

2. The unknown potential 

The second possible scenario that companies face when their content is not in line with their brand goals is also painful, though it’s the opposite of the previous example. If you are putting effort into living your values but not successfully sharing them, you risk losing a competitive advantage. If you are not tooting your own horn and sharing the values of your company with your audience, chances are they don’t know about them. Studies show that a consistently communicated brand leads to a significantly higher revenue than a brand that doesn’t communicate consistently. If your brand is to survive and outgrow competition, it needs to have the right content strategy. 

3. Cognitive dissonance  

Your audience has expectations of your brand. People have certain ideas aboutwhat brands should look and sound like, based on the products or services they offer. We’re talking about expectations for things like what your brand design looks like, features your product will have, or the language your brand uses in their marketing. For example, consumers would expect that a serious product, like diabetes medication, would use authoritative language and understated design. If it had a whimsical logo with bright colors and humor-focused marketing, this would create cognitive dissonance for the consumer, and they’d avoid that feeling by avoiding the product.   

Let’s look at some of the aspects of your brand’s visual style that have the potential to create cognitive dissonance: 

Color 

Think about what colors make the most sense for your brand. So if a sports team associated with the colors blue and orange unveils a new mascot in a green and purple outfit, it won’t be well-received because of the cognitive dissonance it creates. 

Shapes 

Shapes can be soft or sharp, perfectly straight or hand-drawn, open or closed. Each choice conveys something about your brand, and using shapes that don’t match your brand identity will create cognitive dissonance.  

Logo Design 

Studies on visual design show that people become uncomfortable when they see a logo confined tightly within a restricting shape — so uncomfortable that they want to avoid that logo and brand. So when you’re creating a logo, consider this feature along with the shapes and colors of your design.  

Font  

Font says a lot about the identity of a brand. Imagine a comedy network using a somber font like Times New Roman, or the website for a business consultancy being written in Comic Sans — these are both choices that fly in the face of what people expect, and thus create cognitive dissonance for people who encounter it.  

Tone of voice 

Think about what you want your brand to sound like in different situations and how your customers perceive your language. If you are a pharmaceutical company, it’s obvious that you shouldn’t throw in puns or emojis when talking about a new cancer medication. But there are more nuanced tones in language as well. For example, innovative companies tend to use short, statement-like sentences to communicate their messages. Apple, for example, could say “Your next computer is not a computer. The world’s most advanced mobile display. So fast most PC laptops can’t catch up.” This type of language creates urgency and paints a picture of the vision Apple has for their new iPad.  

In conclusion: make sure that what your company does every day matches who your brand aspires to be. And once you have alignment between operations and values, share those things with your audience. People want to do business with companies that they can trust and relate to. Your content has a significant role to play in conveying your brand’s core to your stakeholders. If you can align what you do and what you say you do with your audience’s expectations and desires, you will have a chance of outshining your competition and building value. 

Bonus content: The magical science of storytelling | David JP Phillips | TEDxStockholm.

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