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Brands that lead the content marketing charge: how they dominate

Social & Digital

Brands that lead the content marketing charge: how they dominate


‘Content is king’ – it’s an annoyingly over-used phrase, yet it captures the essence of the present-day marketing scene.

Nine in 10 organizations market with content and 78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing. And, more than 95% of Australian marketers use content marketing, according to Content Marketing Institute.

Most businesses today invest in content marketing, but are they doing it right? There are no cut-and-dried rules for content strategy and marketing. But this creates open interpretation that can potentially boost or hurt a brand. Perhaps we can learn from those companies serving up best examples. Here are a few brands that are playing the content game right and how you can learn from their success.




American Express: Creating a library of brand-centric content

American Express Amex

Applauded by marketers for their social and content initiatives, American Express is an international trailblazer of content marketing. The company has poured time, resources, and energy into inbound marketing channels. Look at American Express Open Forum with its thought-leadership driven resources for start-up founders, businessmen and women, and marketers. Here, one can find community-driven posts and thought-leadership articles on concepts that relate to the American Express card owner.

Check out American Express’ Australia Facebook page: a geo-specific page that serves as a library of information related to commerce, food and wine, pop culture, and other lifestyle content, rather than just having sales-driven updates.

Lesson: Interesting content is one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media, according to Content Plus. Try to maintain a 10:1 ratio of informational content to promotional content.


Subaru Drive magSubaru: using traditional content media to drive lifestyle marketing

Subaru publishes a magazine called Drive: The Magazine From Subaru. In recent issues, Drive (not to be confused with Fairfax’s motoring section) offers content that extends past their fleet of Foresters to topics that relate to the Subaru driver: farm-to-table food movements, outdoor getaways and lifestyle topics for the prototypical Subaru owner. Even if they don’t own this particular car, consumers know that Subaru is synonymous with outdoorsy, dog-owning tree huggers. And, through Drive magazine’s content, they are playing to the interests and psychographics of their target audience.

Lessons: There are two primary takeaways for brands in the case of Subaru. One, let audience data drive every aspect of your content marketing. The marketers at Subaru touch upon their audience prototype in all forms of marketing: TVCs, printed ads, website, and Drive. Through Drive, Subaru marketers have created a unique market position by getting to the core of their buyer. Through this understanding, they are able to create brand loyalty through content that speaks to their audience.

The second thing to learn here is to maintain the organic nature of content marketing. Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing – so rather than shoving outbound messages down consumers’ throats, let your content marketing be rogue. EContent recently ran a story on Drive. The article’s author noted: “The best content marketing shouldn’t even be identifiable as content marketing. If you’re doing your job right, the content you produce should be virtually indistinguishable from any other type of content.”


Ugg: images speak 1000 words

A picture speaks 1000 words in the case of Ugg (and a video even more). This retailer has a minimalistic website: white space that draws the customers in with highly-saturated product images. Rather than having text-rich posts on their blog, the content is driven by two to three professionally shot images of landscapes, style inspiration, culture, food, and behind-the-scenes footage. The white space provides a backdrop for visitors to zone in on the images, all of which capture the essence of the Ugg brand. Here’s what comes to my mind as I peruse these images: comfortable chic, down-home naturalist, effortless elegance.

Lesson: Never publish a piece of content without a visual. Understand that well-done images evoke emotion, etch a unique brand perception, and lengthen a visitor’s time on page. Content marketing can be highly visual – images, infographics, and video can replace or supplement content to provide a more resonating message. In fact, articles with images get 94% more views, while posts incorporating a video attract three times as many inbound links as blog posts without video.



Coca-Cola: focus on user-generated storytelling


Once upon a time, Coca-Cola invested millions into 30-second advertisements during prime-time TV events. Today, its marketing approach is to lead the charge through organically generated content. Take for instance Coca-Cola’s Australian website: an arena for community conversations, fun grassroots campaigns like the ‘Happiness’ campaign, and easy access to the company’s links social media accounts. The company provides the channel to communicate, and its advocates populate the content with personal, unique stories.

Coke recently issued the ‘Coca-Cola Content 2020’ plan, sharing how the company will own a disproportionate share of the conversations of popular culture by the year 2020. In the plan, the company affirms how brands must invest in generating great content. To become relevant in the ever-increasing noise of sales pitches and reused copy, you must obey your thirst and lead with dynamic storytelling.

Dynamic storytelling is the process of identifying incremental elements of the brand’s core story, and then dispersing those elements across multiple channels of conversation for purpose of creating a unified brand experience. Your company’s story is the essence of what made your business, not a sales pitch: it’s more about brand attributes and audience psychology. The 2020 plan asserts that you need to tell stories that add value and significance to people’s lives. Additionally, liquid content, as described in the video, are elements of content that move freely but have the same core message.

Lesson: what can you learn from Coca-Cola’s content marketing?

  • Lead with content excellence,
  • move from one-way storytelling to dynamic storytelling, and
  • produce sharable ideas/stories/concepts that earn a disproportionate share of popular culture (own a topic).


The wrap

Is your brand engaging in these tactics? Content marketing can be executed by just about anyone – but its success lies in the strategy. So here are some takeaways:

  • Create a library of interactive content with long-tail, brand-oriented subjects,
  • consider non-digital media for your content efforts,
  • compliment content with imagery or video, and
  • let your visitors/users drive the discussion.


Jay Swansson

Jay Swansson is co-CEO and co-founder at iAcquire, a digital marketing agency based in NYC and Phoenix with a global reach. The agency serves more than 100 clients in 15 countries, including Australia. Follow iAcquire on Twitter at @iAcquire.

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