Brand is an interesting word that encompasses the mission, values, and public representation of a company. It is the different ways your audience (and the general public) identify your business. Take, for instance, Tiffany & Co: they are the first company to trademark a color. Whenever you see a tiny box in robins egg blue (or Tiffany blue), you automatically know where it came from.
But a brand is more than a color scheme or elegant logo. It is the embodiment of values that can be found in all public mediums:
- Content (blogs, white papers, etc.)
- Social Media activity
- Email campaigns
All of this public-facing content adds to your brand. So when we think about content, how can that always stay on brand? Let’s dive a little deeper into the idea of brands and the many ways they should influence the content that businesses’ create in order to keep a positive connection with the public.
What is a “brand”?
Dating back to the 1400s, a brand was known as an impressed or engraved mark on an object usually done with a hot iron. Branding was a physical manifestation of a belief or action. Quite often, branding was not used for positive marking. Think of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, publicly scorned by being forced to display the letter “A” on her clothing after a scandalous affair. The “A” was a brand, the way that the town recognized who she was and what she did.
This is a stark example of the effect that a brand has on the public, and while the meaning of the word has shifted over time, it is important to think about its history and how it shapes our principles in business.
Why is your brand important?
You may be thinking that creating and adhering to your brand is a difficult task, and you would be right! With so many channels for interacting with the public, how can you work to ensure it all stays true to your brand?
While there is not a straightforward answer, there are some tools that can help.
- Create brand guidelines
- Clearly state your mission and values
- Vet content for brand message and vision
- Employee brand training and strategy sessions
Your brand is especially translucent in your content. But is it really necessary to make sure that every post stays on brand?
As Alexis tells us, yes! Your content is the window into who you are as a company and what you care about. So you are responsible for ensuring that the content you deliver is something that you are proud of and represents your business in a thoughtful and earnest way.
Are some topics “off-brand”?
Remember, a brand is the culmination of your public representation. You, therefore, want to make sure that all of the subjects you discuss in a blog or social media post color within the lines of your brand. The topics that you discuss in your public forums are not mutually exclusive from your brand. This means that the topics you discuss should always conform to your brand’s expectations. If that is true, do you always have to write about the same topics?
Diversity in the topics you discuss is important to craft your individuality as a business and aid in the connections you make with your audience. As financial advisors, your clients are looking to you for trust, guidance, and fortitude. These values are not only communicated by your informative blogs about saving and investment principles, but also in the personal content you create.
Personal content can be more complex than it initially sounds. Perhaps you are interested in our political climate, or you have a hobby for global economic policy and want to share that information with your readers. That is great! I encourage you to share your passions and expertise with your audience. But there is a certain craft to talking about hot-button topics such as politics. Keep these points in mind when you share personal content.
- Make it genuine
- Avoid polarizing language
- Employ an attitude of tolerance
- Retain your empathy for different perspectives
Personal content can be some of the most gratifying content that you share. It further solidifies your commitment to transparency, vulnerability, and trust for your clients and business. When it comes to your business blog, understand that all of that content must remain on the brand. I wouldn’t think of this stipulation as limiting, rather as an opportunity to cement your expertise in your space.
Sharing your passion with the world is a beautiful thing, and when done in a sophisticated and gracious way can strengthen the brand you and your team have built.