Hi Brand! Who Are You? An Exercise in Understanding Your Brand to Write Better Content

Have a Conversation With Your Brand

It’s been shouted from blogs, echoed through social media valleys, and whispered across the richest plains of the Internet:

Content is king.

Wait! Before your eyes glaze over because you’ve heard these three words so many times that they seem cliché, hear me out.

You understand that content creation (articles, social media posts, videos, and much more) is important to your success and exposure, but there’s another side to this story.

Does Your Content Resonate?

Content only works if it resonates in two ways:

  1. Resonates with your readers by compelling them to think, feel, or act.
  2. Resonates with your brand by inherently relating to your mission and values.

Merely posting content and sending it through various promotional channels may seem like it’s enough to resonate with your brand, but it takes more than that. You need to create a lasting ripple effect that traces all the way back to your brand.

How Do You Create Content With a Ripple Effect?

Before all else, understand your brand.

Don’t just have a vague idea of your brand – sit down and flesh it out. In fact, imagine sitting down and having a conversation with your brand. What would it say? If your brand sounds like a marketing strategy’s elevator pitch because that’s all it’s been prepared to say, then you’re in trouble.

Times have changed. Audiences are social and want brands to be just as social: to have a conversation. They want to talk about likes, dislikes, what makes them tick, what they are most passionate about, and more. Audiences want to align themselves with you and what your products or services stand for – not necessarily with the product itself.

How do you encourage alignment? One principle:

Use the power of opposites.

Love and Hate
Hot and Cold
Powerful and Weak
Private and Public
Pretty and Ugly
For and Against

Opposites are potent and they create resonating ripples.

How Can You Harness the Power of Opposites?

Remember that conversation with your brand? Take it a step further. Dissociate yourself from your brand for a moment and pretend you don’t know a thing about it. Ask it this question:

What does your brand stand for?

Beyond a stuffy, uninspiring mission statement write down the answer and truly make it convincing – enough to convince you. We want to hear passion and conviction in your reply detailing everything that your brand stands for. Next, ask it this follow up question:

What does your brand oppose?

For every point your brand was for, there is an opposite. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to trade hot for cold – it means you change the lens with which you view the original idea.

For example, I “asked” EzineArticles what it was for. Here’s a condensed list of its responses (you know how chatty EzineArticles can be):

  • We stand for a positive user experience.
  • We stand for quality.
  • We stand for speed and will invest in new resources to deliver a faster experience.
  • We stand for sharing original knowledge, expertise, and wisdom.
  • We stand for a passionate team of editors who care about providing a great service.

Next, I “asked” EzineArticles what it opposed:

  • We oppose a bad user experience.
  • We oppose shoddy, poor quality.
  • We oppose delays and slowness.
  • We oppose derivative, hackneyed content.
  • We oppose allowing a “robot” (technology) to make a judgment on something as human as writing.

You see: brands can love and hate (or strongly dislike in most cases) just as much as the next person! By identifying what they are for and then specifying what they are against helps both the audience and the brand find common ground. If they have a common enemy (not just a common love or passion), it provides an opportunity to join forces and rally against what they oppose.

How Does This Work Into Your Content?

Use the opposing forces (what you stand for and what you oppose) as a foundation to write great content that resonates to create a ripple effect.

For example, because we’re opposed to poor quality, we might say to you, “WE HATE SHODDY QUALITY.” Then we might ask you to “STAND WITH US AGAINST POOR QUALITY” and recommend measures to take against poor quality.

Take time today to truly meet your brand – have a conversation with it and get to know it. Find out what it’s for and what it’s against and then use that ground to introduce it to your audience through resonating content. When your audience finds your brand’s ideas resonate with them, your audience will find ample common ground to get to know your brand (and even introduce you to their friends and family too).

17 Comments »


1
Karleen writes:

Thanks, Vanessa, for explaining a little more about branding. It’s always been kind of a vague concept to me – what is my brand? Now I will think about it a little more and write out what I want my brand to stand for and what I don’t want it to stand for. I think that will clear it up for me and help me produce better content.

Comment provided February 5, 2014 at 12:25 PM

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Sounds like a great plan, Karleen! :)

~Vanessa

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2
Okon writes:

I never regretted subscribing to EzineArticles.com for once

Comment provided February 5, 2014 at 12:58 PM

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3
Greg De Tisi writes:

Great post. In some ways branding seems obvious but I think that this is where many go wrong. They focus on what ‘they think’ they should look like in order to dominate a niche for example, but my personal branding success has come down to me being totally honest with who I am and what I do. Therefore that resonates clearly with my target market and in fact I need to do less hard promotion as people tend to find me because of my transparency.

It is so important to be honest with yourself and think of the customers needs before income is considered. I loved this post as it hit the nail on the head with why we are all doing this. And how to do it right.

Lastly I was doing tons of research with my audience before I even created anything so that I knew what they wanted first.

Great post thnaks again.

Comment provided February 5, 2014 at 2:15 PM

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4

This is in very good article for those of us interested in creating “compelling content” as it not only made me think of how our brand is different than our competitors, but also gave practical ways we can use these differences to create content. For example, every company says they are committed to customer service but our company was started by a woman who knew that most of the purchasing decisions for the products we sell (environmental testing and monitoring equipment) are actually made by women and therefore a woman-owned company would be more responsive to how our customers conducted business.

Comment provided February 5, 2014 at 2:31 PM

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5
Matthew Morris writes:

One thing that is not explicitly mentioned in this article is brand consistency. I have long since decided on what my brand is and I do my best to ensure that I maintain a consistent message with it.

Comment provided February 5, 2014 at 5:10 PM

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6
Jo writes:

Great article!

Comment provided February 5, 2014 at 8:27 PM

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7
Amyth Banerjee writes:

Very insightful article and most importantly clearly written. This really helps to understand the mindset behind the whole process of branding. Cool Stuff and I must include this is really useful stuff you have written about.

Comment provided February 6, 2014 at 12:19 AM

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8

This article is timely, and truly makes you think, as it outlines those intricate ‘brand resonance’ details and helps those who are stuck at a point where, they, for sure know ‘content is king’ and that article social sharing is important, but creating a content that best resembles/resonates a company’s brand and thereby connecting with its audience(gaining a common ground) undoubtedly is the most difficult part. After reading this article it felt like, clear clouds appearing, clearing that marketing mist. Great helpful article Vanessa. Thanks so much.

Comment provided February 6, 2014 at 2:24 AM

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9
Kay writes:

Nice article and content is King!
Just take a look at the Google trends for “content marketing” and you’ll see the reality!

Comment provided February 6, 2014 at 3:54 AM

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10
Maurice writes:

Good advice when you suggest writing down what your brand is “for” and then what it is “against”. Simple, but can be very powerful.

Comment provided February 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM

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11

One should confine to his/her niche to create and maintain the brand. Creating contents out of own experience is bound to attract more traffic.

Comment provided February 7, 2014 at 1:15 AM

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12
Mohini Allison writes:

It is very good post because it is not only made me think of how our brand is different than our competitors, but also gave practical ways we can use these differences to create content.
Thanks..

Comment provided February 7, 2014 at 2:07 AM

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13

It’s interesting that I came across this article on my timeline today, because I struggle with understanding and truly defining my brand. I know what I’m good at, and I know what other people say I’m good at, but the fact that I always second guess me and them, well that makes branding quite the chore.

I like that you’ve provided clarity around building on your passions and own experiences. I’ve read the hackneyed articles and the cold and stiff reports, and I walk away thinking, “Yuck, I can do better than that. I have a voice and I need to use it to personalize my writing.”

Thanks again for the article. Perfect timing.

Comment provided February 7, 2014 at 12:40 PM

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14
Peter Walker writes:

Brand awareness for your niche is important. When someone thinks of a product, you want them to think of your brand.

Comment provided February 8, 2014 at 3:18 PM

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15

Thank you for this great article. It has removed the writer’s block that has been hindering me, and now I know exactly how to move forward.

Comment provided February 9, 2014 at 7:51 PM

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16
parth writes:

Hey, Right time right blog entry. Now a days every business is asking for brand. Every body wants to aware about this. It is also true that if your ranking is good but your brand is no where then it would be negative for your business. and unique content is playing very important role for making your brand. so thank you recall all the things again.

Comment provided February 11, 2014 at 6:35 AM

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