When it comes to business, what you think of yourself is far less important than how your consumers think of you. Many small business owners and entrepreneurs perceive branding in terms of their assets: logo, tagline, color scheme. However, branding is more what people think and feel when they see your name or logo. Essentially, branding is the totality of people’s opinion of your business based on your mission, core values, customer experience, and more. Consequently, your content marketing can positively or negatively impact your brand identity based on how well it is aligned with your principles and consumer expectations.
An Example of Successful Branding
A favorite example of successful branding is Planet Fitness. Their mission statement includes the declaration, “we will seek to perfect this safe, energetic environment, where everyone feels accepted and respected.” Additionally, Planet Fitness is known for having very low membership prices, being a Judgement Free Zone®, and their Lunk™ Alarm. Essentially, Planet Fitness has become one of the most successful fitness franchises in the United States by providing a low-cost, high-value fitness option for a large segment of the population who is turned off by a traditional gym. Moreover, they take advantage of a public perception that traditional gyms are intimidating and filled with “Lunk Heads”.
When you see Planet Fitness’ thumbs-up logo, their identity as a Judgement Free Zone® immediately comes to mind. Moreover, their mission to create an environment that is accepting and supportive is consistent throughout the consumer experience, from their marketing to the actual fitness facilities. If, as an example, their content marketing started to focus on powerlifting, bodybuilding, and physique competitions, it would be completely out of alignment with their declared mission, principles, and values. The content would “feel” foreign and not “sound like” them to their target audience. Inevitably, such a misalignment would result in alienating their core customers.
The Importance of Brand Identity
One common definition of branding is, “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” So, Planet Fitness’ name and thumbs-up logo, plus their Judgement Free Zone® and Lunk™ Alarm, significantly differentiate their fitness facilities from all others. Nevertheless, the power of those symbols is derived from the identity created when they aligned their mission and values to the total customer experience. On their own, the Planet Fitness name and thumbs-up logo tell you nothing about the company’s organizational culture. These symbols can only remind and reinforce what people already think, and any emotional connection that exists.
Customers will retreat from companies that are inconsistent and inauthentic. It is a trust in shared principles and core values that will create consumer loyalty and an attachment to your brand. If your content marketing does not or is unable to communicate shared beliefs and goals with your target audience, they will seek out a brand that does. This is why it is vital that your content marketing accurately reflects your organizational culture, what you believe, and those things that you hold in high regard. Does that make sense to you?
Linking Content with Brand Identity
Your content marketing strategy must be aligned more with your mission, principles, and values than your actual products or services. This is the only way to know that you are crafting the right message for your ideal customers. Additionally, it is the only way to ensure consistency. Trust and loyalty can only exist if consumers have a clear understanding of who you are and what you stand for. Ultimately, effective content marketing will help ensure that your branding assets reflect the image that you want to project.