We’ve covered branding in many of our previous blog posts – from using fairytales, to crafting enticing and compelling visual content. We know that content creation is so much more than simply advertising; effective branding creates an identity that contextualises your business.
It’s an aura of sorts, and it’s always more than the sum of its parts. As a content creator, marketing strategist, and writer I know that the way something is said is just as important as what is said.
Content can mark a business out as something unique. But many businesses fail to understand the power of branding, especially in the new and emerging digital/social world.
Put it this way:
- How many businesses define their voice as ‘professional’?
- How many businesses fail to add anything new with their content marketing efforts?
Most. Because creativity and thought are commodities that aren’t always valued like they should be, especially within digital content creation.
What do you think he writes about? It’s not a trick question, but it is an effective exercise in branding.
Gold writes restaurant reviews, but he’s also a cultural commentator. He uses the city of Los Angeles as a context, and he explores as many niche eateries as possible. Gold gets there before anyone else – that’s his USP.
But his writing isn’t simply an analysis of food. It’s a considered conversation about what that food means, and the context that it exists within.
Jonathan Gold and Content Marketing Strategies
Here’s my favourite passage written by Jonathan Gold. He wrote it shortly after the LA riots of 1992:
My neighborhood has always been transient, a brief stopping place for Thais and Nicaraguans and pale, gaunt poets before they move on to single-family homes in greener parts of town. But to my Korean landlords, this neighborhood is home.
When they came into my apartment a couple of years ago to inspect the building they had just bought, they removed their shoes on the landing in the polite Korean manner and promptly drenched their socks on the freshly mopped kitchen floor.
I have been awakened before dawn by the rhythmic thud of garlic being pounded into paste on the back porch. I have stumbled out the door with an armful of wet laundry, only to find most of the clothesline taken up by drying fish. I have also come home from work to find the backstairs spread with leaves of cabbage curing in the hot sun.
Even when their son was murdered a half-mile south of here, there was no questioning that they belonged. The landlords keep to themselves and so do I, but I sometimes wish that they would invite me over for dinner.
This emotive passage comes from a food critic. But it’s so much more than a simple ‘review.’ It’s a piece of Gonzo journalism that places Gold in a long line of American social commentary writers.
It builds Jonathan Gold, the brand. He’s not limited by his title or his profession. Instead he uses it to carve out his own niche, a place where he can write about what he wants to write about.
But it’s still clearly written by a writer with a focus on food, with the almost utopian view that good food, and good company are what we need to integrate, and get along with each other. It speaks in his voice, and it’s all the better for it.
So, Jonathan Gold is a food critic, but his content says much more than what you’d expect from his profession. And he’s respected because of it.
But how can a business build from that analysis? What can marketers learn from the eloquence of Jonathan Gold? Certainly not SEO best practices.
Shape Your Branding With Excellent Content Creation
What marketers can learn is how to use writing, and content in general, to define and shape their branding. We know that Apple has done this remarkably well, but it’s important to remember that you don’t need a huge budget to find success in content marketing.
Gold shapes a conversation because his writing says something. That’s the key to inbound marketing strategies, and the content that you craft. It has to have weight, merit, and be of use to your audience.
BBC Story Works released information from a study into content marketing. They found that the most successful forms of content have certain things in common:
- Transparency and quality – these traits heighten audience engagement
- It’s well made, the content is trusted, persuasive, and it elicits a powerful emotional response from audiences
There were a lot of interesting findings from the study, and I encourage marketers to read more via the link above. But the two points I’ve highlighted are worth considering in more depth when developing your content marketing plan.
Transparency, Authenticity, and Honesty in Content Marketing
Firstly, transparency, authenticity, and honesty should be your watchwords. Your content should establish your business as a place that provides excellent, well researched, and well written content for its audience.
This is important. Every business writes blog posts, many are using video, and all of them are vying for attention on social networks and search engine results pages. Most are using SEO techniques, and in this mix you have to market your own content and make it stand out.
Not only that, but your work has to be outstanding so that people come back for more. I’m not particularly interested in food criticism, but I am interested in excellent writing. Jonathan Gold is someone that I read, but I live in England and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever eat at the restaurants he writes about. I read his work because it’s compelling.
And that’s OK. I get to live vicariously. Gold’s writing lets me see into another world, and he makes me think of food in a more critical and considered light. This is exactly what your content should do for your own industry. It should convert, and it should fundamentally change readers forever.
Gold’s voice is authentic, unique, and it can’t be found anywhere else. Amongst the sea of Yelp reviews his work stands out as something special, something memorable. That’s the key to well made content, and it’s exactly what your content marketing efforts should strive for.‘Authenticity is how you build a brand, a legacy, and an aura that belongs only to your business.’ Click To Tweet
The Importance of User Generated Content
For content marketers, an interesting area to discuss is user generated content. For the businesses that Jonathan Gold writes about, his articles (or content) showcase their value. His validation provides them with an excellent piece of advertising, and his content drives traffic to their doors.
Your website content creation strategies should include the voices of the people who know your business the best. The users, the buyers, and the people who rely on your services – encourage them to talk about your brand. Their conversation will help define your business and its values, too.
Online Ad Blockers Vs. Traditional Advertising
Jonathan Gold’s words add to a business’ legacy. This is an important consideration when developing a brand for your business. Most millenials use an ad blocker of some description when browsing the web, making traditional advertising routes problematic.
But these same millenials are generating reams of their own content, from blogging about film and TV, to sharing images of products that they want to buy. This is something to tap into, especially if you can identify key influencers within your demographic.
Consider YouTube and it’s notably successful video makers, and try to get them to discuss your products and services. There are plenty of routes to explore, and content marketing is just as much about placement, as it is about creating original work.
Website content marketing is increasingly difficult, and it becomes ever more important to have a developed and diverse web presence. This includes the ‘usual’ inbound strategies like eBooks, whitepapers, and blog posts, but it should also encompass things like user generated content, too.
An excellent blog post titled ‘How User-Generated Content Will Rocket Your Brand in 2016’ explores the idea further:
Do you ever wonder if consumers are tired of hearing you talk about yourself? Advertising and marketing really put brands on a razor’s edge of publicity and self-absorption. It’s hard to extoll your many virtues anymore, simply because so many other brands are doing the same.
Don’t Just Talk About Yourself
Talking about yourself can have a negative effect. But promoting conversation within your audience isn’t that simple, either. There are some options, however.
Firstly, it’s worth considering how social media has democratised branding. In the past, brands were able to define themselves, and advertising channels were mostly free of consumer feedback.
That has all changed.
Unfortunately for companies – and fortunately for the rest of us – the information revolution transferred this power squarely into the hands of consumers. Armed with this newfound power, customers found themselves with an edge over salespeople.
Your Audience Defines Your Brand
Your brand is as much defined by your users, as it’s defined by your marketing efforts. This puts more pressure on you to perform well, and to provide excellent products and services. But it also takes some of the burden of content creation away from you, too.
Capture reviews, right after a product or service has been purchased, and showcase them on your website. Encourage users to talk about your business, and let potential customers become part of the conversation.
A party that no one attends isn’t a party. Make sure that you create an atmosphere ripe for collaboration and discussion.
Remember, though, that your content, whatever the form, are small pieces of a much bigger picture. Have a good strategy in place, and work at crafting blogs, videos, and articles that reflect the types of values that you want to find in your audience.
Apple targets eco friendly consumers (even if their products don’t reflect those ideals), and their computers are frequently marketed as tools for ‘creatives.’ It fosters a sense of tribalism, identity, and community.
That, too, is what Jonathan Gold’s writing does. It reminds us that the world isn’t so big, or as scary as we think it is. It encourages us to come together, to break bread, and to try new experiences. And even if we don’t want to join in, we can still see a different world through Gold’s eyes.
Shape your audience’s perspective on your brand via excellent and authentic content creation, and then use their responses to build a sense of identity for your business.Marketing content creation is just as reliant on your audience, as it is on your business.Click To Tweet
Jonathan Gold is a skilled writer. Not everyone can use words like he can.