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Four Steps to Successfully Create Branded Content

Four Steps to Successfully Create Branded Content

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As brand consistency takes centre-stage, those that leverage the right technology tools and follow the four key building blocks to help scale their branded content will find the most success.

Learn from your audience

All brands have a unique story to tell and it’s up to today’s marketers to become interesting multimedia storytellers to differentiate themselves. In the shift from traditional marketing forms like television commercials and billboards, the way marketers are expected to reach their audiences has expanded significantly. But the fundamental concept remains unchanged: a brand’s visual identity is constructed from what it presents to its customers.

Visual content is arguably the most compelling format for storytelling, and therefore brands must invest in having a well-established visual identity to help their content resonate with target demographics and stand out from their competitors.

In today's cluttered media environment – where over two billion photos are uploaded to social media daily – creating and maintaining a consistent visual identity isn't as simple as it used to be.

We’ve moved on from just having to adhere to a ‘brand bible’ that dictates the guidelines for logos, fonts, mood and tone for all branded materials. Now marketers have to monitor volume, variety, and frequency when creating visual assets across a constantly growing range of customer touchpoints.

Brands must maintain multiple social feeds, often in multiple languages and regions and continually populate them with engaging, on-brand content in order to stay top-of-mind among their customers.

As brand consistency takes centre-stage, those that leverage the right technology tools and follow the four key building blocks to help scale their branded content will find the most success:

Choose the right platform

Not all social media platforms are going to be the right fit for your brand. Similarly, not all of your content is going to be appropriate to be shared on all channels. This is one of the biggest struggles marketers have; consumers are sharp and will pick up on when content doesn’t suit the platform it has been posted on. A vertical Snapchat-style video will most likely not suit a Tweet or vice versa. Ensure you make the most of your time and money by focusing your efforts on the right channel(s) for your content.  

It is up to marketers to find this audience, devote time to understand them and then target them in the most appropriate way. If marketers are successful in these three steps, the audience will connect with the content and therefore will lead to a higher engagement rate.

Understanding your target audience will also help with the first step. If brands know where its audience is mostly found on social channels, it will be able to target more specifically to achieve the best results.

By consistently analysing audience insight data, marketers will be able to learn more about their customers beyond basic demographics. By leveraging the right tools for data insights, brands can then create more relevant content that reaches their target demographics at the best times and locations.

Study your competitors

Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing is also extremely important. Marketers must do their due diligence while objectively analysing what content they are pushing out.

This could range from visual style and copy to the volume of content and timing – to distinguish the factors they can employ to keep their brand unique. Brands don’t want to be homogenous and marketers must understand what their competitors are doing to create interesting, unique content across platforms. It is also a good opportunity to learn from mistakes made by competitors.

Credit: @audi

We’ve seen brands be successful when it comes to using imagery to position themselves differently to competitors across industries. For example, car brands Volvo and Audi use Instagram as a medium to reach their customers but through dramatically different types of content.

Audi posts numerous photos of their cars with futuristic graphics. Whereas, Volvo presents itself on Instagram through capturing the vehicles driving through natural sceneries. This allows the consumers to clearly differentiate between the brands, keeping their visual content unique.  

Credit: @volvocars

Be aligned

The final tenet for brands to develop consistent brand identities is aligning their visual content across platforms. Brand consistency is so important as it can result in consumers identifying the brand before even seeing a logo/name. A big part of engaging consumers is making them feel like they understand the brand and emotionally connect with it. Brand consistency is a part of building brand trust.

Building a brand's visual identity is no easy task, but ultimately, it's one of the most important assets brands can use to establish loyalty and ultimately boost their top line. As brand marketing continues to evolve in this digital era, it’s become vital that marketers take advantage of the right tools such as machine learning technology, which can help marketers maintain brand alignment and consistency across platforms.

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Grant Munro

Grant Munro

    Grant is the senior vice president of Shutterstock Custom (formerly CEO of ​Flashstock Technology), a custom content creation platform for the world’s leading brands. In his role as CEO and co-founder of Flashstock, Grant has helped more than 250 enterprise marketing teams, including AB InBev, L'Oréal, Nestlé, and McDonald's amongst many others change the way they think, develop, and source creative content at scale. Grant and his team has built a new breed of technology in the Content-as-a-Service category that leverages a global marketplace with SaaS-enabled capabilities. He has worked with a number of brands in a senior capacity including Coca-Cola, JP Morgan Chase, and Amway.

    Read more from Grant

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