Marketing gurus are touting content marketing as a way to promote a company on the Internet. Content marketing is a strategic marketing plan to add relevant content to various websites on the Internet in order to promote something, usually a company or non-profit organization. In a way, it is similar to putting up flyers in your neighborhood except that your neighborhood is the world, and the flyers can be seen globally. However, content marketing cannot be implemented unless the company first has discussed their brand and brand alignment.
What is Brand Alignment?
According to Michel Hogan from Smart Company,
“Put simply, brand alignment is making sure that everything you are doing, thinking and saying as an organization lines up, resulting in a strong, consistent and sustainable brand. It is a company-wide, horizontal, organizing principle. Don’t devalue it and just use it for your communications.
When fully embraced, the idea of brand alignment can be transformational.”
Hogan’s definition of brand alignment points out why it is important for content marketing. It is the organizing principle behind the brand. In order to properly plan what content is needed for marketing and hire a copywriter, the branding must already be chosen and the entire company aware of this unifying principle.
Behind the Scenes
Content marketing is designed to get potential customers to act. They are invited to take one of a few actions–sign up for a mailing list, click a link, like a page, buy an item from a website or visit a brick and mortar business. The response to the activity is where brand alignment truly comes into play.
For instance, let’s imagine that we are Joe Black’s Hamburger Company. We have invested thousands of dollars in our content marketing plan. One piece of the plan is to get customers to try our new menu item, the Mushroom Swiss Hamburger. We ask customers to join our mailing list and we will email them a coupon for a free Mushroom Swiss Hamburger with a purchase of fries and a drink. We build excitement for this new product through our marketing plan to our customer base. All of the stores have received marketing information and the recipe for the new burger. They are told what to say and how to say it in order to keep customers excited after they try the new burger.
However, the stores in Citysville, State have decided that they do not want to give away a free burger to everyone who has the coupon. They will only accept ten coupons for a free burger per day. The rest of the people will be told that they need to come back the next day and try again.
In this scenario, the Citysville stores are not aligned with the company brand. What do you think will be the result of this misalignment? I am sure that you can figure out that customers will be upset, and the word will spread that Joe Black’s Hamburger Company does not live up to its brand.
Real Life Experiences
I am sure that you have experienced a situation where a company has made a promise to you and not followed through. This experience destroys your trust in that business. In the example, the brand alignment problem is blatant. However, in many cases, the issues are smaller. You watch a McDonald’s commercial on TV and all of the employees are happy and smiling. When you walk into your local McDonald’s the folks behind the counter are gruff and in a hurry. The dichotomy between expectations and reality is a brand alignment problem. The employees have not been trained how to meet the expectations of the brand. The result–the company loses customers instead of building their business through their marketing plan.
Paula A is a freelance writer who has been writing on the Internet since 2008. When she is not writing, Paula creates and maintains websites, searches for handmade art treasures and nibbles on chocolate to keep herself motivated.