How to Use Your Corporate Blog for Branding
Having helped to establish over 100 corporate blogs in the last 11 years, I’ve had my fair share of time to observe their impact. And I’ve come to realize that my original perception of a blog’s main purpose — generating leads — was a bit limited. When a blog crosses a certain quality threshold, its impact on brand is significant enough to energize current customers and sales prospects alike, leading to more brand loyalty and a higher close rate.
The essence of a truly well-written corporate blog seems to be that members of your target audience feel “spoken to,” as if your company understands their problems and needs. Particularly for prospects who haven’t had in-person interaction with your business, truly insightful blogs make them feel a connection with a person at your company’s thinking, which naturally establishes a bond.
So what makes a corporate blog cross that quality threshold and become genuinely impactful for branding? In my experience, there are five attributes it must possess. I list them below and expound upon them afterwards. They are:
- A Unique Voice
- Original Thinking
- A Clear Value Proposition
- Brand Ethos
If you publish content every week that incorporates these attributes, you can almost guarantee an increase in your online brand equity— as well as the stats that go along with them, such as increased traffic, qualified leads, and conversions.
5 Branding Attributes Your Corporate Blog Needs
Before I get into the 5 attributes, one prerequisite to a successful corporate blog is good visual branding. The color palette, typeface, and graphical assets you employ on your main site should extend seamlessly into your blog posts. Of course, not every company is Apple, and your design needn’t stand out more than it would for a company in your industry. It just needs to feel like “you.”
1. Establish a Unique Voice for Your Brand
The best blogs create a voice that’s instantly recognizable—like the futuristic thoughtfulness of IBM or the value-boasting humor of Southwest. A branding or content marketing firm can create a comprehensive style guide that will help you nail down the voice of your brand. If you don’t already a distinct brand voice, start by creating lists of words that your brand would use and would not use in a blog post. Compare those lists to define your voice.
One of our clients, a customer analytics software company, recently suggested the two words “irreverent” and “quick-witted” for their brand voice. We used those cues to influence our blogging, leading to the usage of terms like precisely, notwithstanding, piece of work, and mighty fine to convey that the company is not your average, boring software firm. Those words would feel out of place in most corporate blogs but it helps them stand out in a field with pretty unmemorable writing.
2. Offer Original Thinking in Your Content
Almost every company has a blog, but few share the insights they’ve gained in an approachable, interesting way. That’s the kind of content that sells a brand. Original blog posts will feel more authentic to your customers (rather than doing what your competitors do — rehashing existing ideas in passable, but not particularly memorable, ways).
Originality can be hard to achieve, but it moves your company from the realm of blogging to the realm of thought leadership. First, readers will pick up on it and develop a greater respect for your brand, increasing the likelihood that they will do business with you.
Second, by publishing high-quality original content regularly, you’re creating a library of resources that can be shared in prospecting emails, newsletters, and social media posts. And, no surprise, greater originality is the difference between just-okay results in these kinds of campaigns and excellent results.
Third, consistent publishing looks good in Google’s eyes, making your website more likely to receive Google’s News Website bonus and increasing the Google rankings of every page on your website. The more original your blogs are, the more likely it is decision makers will consume multiple pieces of content. The more original your blogs are, the more time people will spend on your page, which is one of the ranking signals in Google’s 2020 algorithm.
3. Project Your Value Proposition (Softly)
It’s often not obvious how to offer a clear value proposition for working with your firm when providing genuinely useful information. The harder the sales pitch, the less it mixes freely with original, interesting thinking. For that reason, you never want to do anything that could be described as a sales pitch in your blog. Instead, you’ll want to demonstrate your expertise before even the softest introduction of your product or service. Sometimes, it’s enough simply to give examples of how you’ve worked with your clients. Your audience will get it.
You can also include a closing CTA at the end of each blog post, as doing so feels pretty standard nowadays, and people have the option of ignoring it if they’d like. But make it (a) brief and (b) relevant to the content. Give your readers a quick next step.
4. Communicate Your Values and Brand Ethos
Each blog post should also do a good job of conveying your company values and brand ethos—what your organization stands for. These ideas may be concrete (e.g. “We value a commitment to customer satisfaction”) or they may be more nebulous (e.g. “We value fun and spontaneity”). Whatever your values may be, get them in writing and into your blogging style guide. Make sure these values are supported with strong content on the “About Us” page of your website.
After you’ve written a few blog posts that you really like, pause to evaluate how they communicate your values. Identify and keep track of the exact phrases that hit the mark. Try using a framework like the chart below:
Blog Post Title: Choosing the Best iPaaS Software for Your Enterprise
Y / N
|“We take responsibility for making sure our recommendations are accurate and up-to-date.”|
Y / N
|Add: “We’re proud to offer the leading iPaaS product on the market for the third year running.”|
Y / N
|“Other iPaaS companies aren’t willing to be this transparent.”|
By keeping track of these excerpts over time, you’ll build an extensive library of branded language that feels authentic to your company. You can then use these phrases more often in your posts (and in other aspects of your business) to spread your brand message.
5. Create an Infectiousness that Readers Catch
Finally, every brand needs something extra that makes you stand out from the crowd. A je ne sais quoi. A sense of infectiousness.
While infectiousness is classicly difficult to describe, my advice is not to try to generate it from hard work. Instead, either find it or hire it. If you know of anyone on your team to whom people really listen when they talk about your product, perhaps they can contribute a blog article a few times per year. I’ve known some companies who have a charismatic sales or marketing person edit — or at least add an introduction to — each blog article.
Probably the easier option is to find a content marketing firm that can write about your industry in a genuine, interesting way. While most firms will not be able to do this with their staff of generalists, the good ones bring on an expert from your industry that they hire and train at their own expense. This makes the likelihood of getting your brand voice right, and writing about your industry in an engaging way, much higher. As this is First Page Sage’s model, I’ve seen the necessity of adopting it when the goal is truly excellent writing.
The Big Question: Who’s Going to Do the Work?
As you can see, creating a corporate blog for branding purposes is not an easy task. It takes months of developing high-quality original content that conveys your company’s uniqueness. And after that, months more of continued, consistent publishing. To make this happen, you need a team of people specifically dedicated to the task of getting your blog off the ground.
Many companies attempt to do this in-house by using salaried writers and setting aside their own time to manage the content strategy. But publishing thought leadership content often takes a backseat to other projects and priorities. It’s easy to let your blog slide when your valuable time and resources are needed elsewhere. Outsourcing your blogging is often much less expensive and has a higher ROI. If you’re looking to create an authoritative blog that will convey your brand and engage more prospects simultaneously, consider outsourcing to an expert thought leadership team.
First Page Sage is a thought leadership marketing firm with extensive experience in blog branding. We’ve helped more than a hundred clients tell their brand story and generate valuable B2B leads as a result. Contact us to launch your blog and begin your story.