A brand tells a story — that’s something we learn in Marketing 101. But identifying that story and deciding how to tell it involves wrestling with nuanced questions and considering problems that have no definitive solutions.
Marketers and strategists have known for a long time that they can’t just place a brand story in front of people and expect them to accept it, hook, line and sinker.
Jeff Bezos famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” A lot is packed into this statement, but the most significant takeaway is that organizations can’t always control how people perceive their brand. Usually, despite the efforts of creative and driven marketing teams, an organization can’t control what people think about their brand.
Far from a setback, this is an opportunity for a brand to truly grow.
The need to engage rather than push
Gone are the days when brands simply (and clumsily) tried to push products on consumers. In today’s diverse global market, everyone from startups to mega-brands must engage with consumers in multiple ways. One strategy that satisfies this objective is known as brand journalism.
In essence, this technique uses journalistic methods to market a brand. As such, writers craft stories that use journalistic information and findings to support a brand’s offerings and direct how a brand tells its story.
The most important mark of good brand journalism is that is does not directly sell a product, instead offering insight, understanding, awareness or entertainment, all in order to enhance a brand’s relationship with its customers.
The marks of good brand journalism
Rooted in good storytelling, good brand journalism focuses on producing content that is related to the brand or the products it offers. It tends to exhibit these characteristics:
- Timely and compelling storytelling.
- Balanced, well-investigated, fact-based findings that meet journalistic standards.
- Relevant to the reader’s world and clarifies complicated matters.
- Encourages discussion.
- Makes use of a range of media, including photos, videos, listicles, audio and more.
We could go on listing the do’s and the don’ts of good brand journalism, but it’s probably more effective to highlight organizations that effectively use brand journalism to tell their story.
3 companies to learn from and follow
The following three organizations not only provide some great brand journalism case studies, but they also show how the strategy can be used effectively in a number of industries, from manufacturing to finance to tech.
HSBC’s Global Connections
This site comes close to being the gold standard of brand journalism. Designed for readers who have a particular interest in global business or finance, the global mega-bank’s online magazine rivals publications like The Economist. Expertly curated and easily navigable, visitors can focus on specific global regions (Pacific, Europe, etc.) and browse particular topics (risk management, supply chains, etc.). Along with articles, there are plenty of videos and multimedia tools, too. If you visit the site, be careful — there’s enough engaging content to keep you busy for hours.
We’ve included Tesla because they demonstrate how simple it can be to create really good brand journalism. Where HSBC’s Global Connections is vast and loaded with content, Tesla’s blog provides a pared-down, no-frills experience. Capitalizing on the amount of media exposure the company gets, the blog shows you don’t need the resources of a firm like HSBC to create great brand journalism.
Here is an outstanding example of how an innovative and forward-thinking company can really put brand journalism to use. Targeting the digital marketing professional, Adobe’s digital magazine offers global perspectives from top marketers via articles, interviews, opinion pieces and more. The valuable insights this site provides for marketing professionals elevates Adobe as a thought leader and a provider of trusted solutions for digital marketers everywhere.
If you’re looking to engage customers and share your brand’s story with more people, take some time to learn from these experts. They demonstrate just how well brand journalism can work for any organization.