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Monday, August 2, 2010

Branded Content

There is now general acceptance that a company's brand plays an important role in generating and sustaining financial performance. A company's brand can help attract new customers, keep existing customers from switching to a competitor, help pave the way for entry into new markets and regions, and even affect stock valuation.
To this last point, stock price, a BusinessWeek/JP Morgan study found that some companies enjoy most of their stock valuation as a result of their strong brand. The study found that McDonald's, for instance, attributes more than 70% of its shareholder value to its strong brand. Disney's brand contributes 68% to the company's market capitalization and Coca-Cola's brand chips in just over 50%.
To some degree or another, every company's brand contributes to its overall financial performance. That's why a company's brand story, along with its clearly articulated business objectives, should form the foundation upon which a content-centered communications plan is developed.
As has been discussed before on this site, content is the engine that drives customer engagement. To ensure the interaction with the customers is fully realized, a content-centered communications plan should map directly back to the company's business objectives and stay true to the company's brand; given a brand's powerful influence on customer perception as well as stock valuation.
A few years back I did some consulting for a publicly traded, global telecommunications company that had a brand reputation as an inventive and innovative company, which was based largely on the licensing of its extensive patent portfolio.
Every time we generated content for this company -- be it press release, an executive presentation, a video, a theme for a developer conference, or a social media program -- we always made sure that it was highlighting the company's inventive and innovative persona. In this way, every time the company used content to interact with any number of its target audiences, the company's brand image was reinforced.
If your company hasn't gone through the process recently, you might want to conduct a brand audit prior to development of your content-centered communications plan. The audit is a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of the brand involving activities (both tangible and intangible) to assess the health of your brand. This process should either confirm the status of your company's brand story, or suggest modifications to it. In any case, the audit should help you develop 3-5 brand messages, any one of which can, and should, be used when you develop content to interact with your customers.
Having your brand story clearly defined -- along with easily articulated business objectives -- will help guide the development of all of your company's content. As a result, your customer engagement will be more meaningful for you, and your target audiences.