When it comes to brand storytelling, no one wants to be a one-hit-wonder. A prime-time Superbowl ad campaign might go viral the next day on Twitter, but without a consistent brand message that engages your audience long after the main event, the connection you’ve sparked with those potential customers will eventually burn out.
The same rule applies to the B2B marketing world. The flashy campaign announcing your product or solution will fade into obscurity if decision-makers aren’t given opportunities to learn the value of your expertise. Once you wow the audience, you have to keep them in your ecosystem with content that satisfies their needs and complements the campaign that sparked their initial excitement.
In the world of brand building (and lead generation), success doesn’t come overnight. It comes from maintaining a regular rhythm of engagement with potential customers that takes the big brand moments and connects them to their everyday experiences and needs.
This is what we refer to as an always-on content strategy, and it’s the fuel that will keep your brand top of mind for customers across the marketing funnel.
Campaigns Alone Don’t Make You Memorable
In his book How Brands Grow, marketing scholar Byron Sharpe advocates for the importance of Brand Salience, which he defines as, “the propensity of the brand to be noticed or come to mind in buying situations.”
Put another way: brands need to build consistent memories or “cues” that prompt customers to reach for them on the shelf or contact sales when they are ready to make a buying decision.
Sharpe also mentions that strong campaigns (e.g., the TV spot that goes on to become a cultural moment), consistent packaging, the right logo, and even colors, can and should make a brand unique and memorable, working in unison to build these cues. And to form lasting, full-funnel mental connections with an audience, brands also need regular content to keep the conversation going.
By building that trust and consistency around a topic relevant to your audience’s interest and your product, audiences will remember you when it comes time to make a purchase.
What is an Always-On Content Strategy?
If a campaign establishes the values and ideas your brand upholds — and captures the attention of a relevant audience — then your regular content translates those ideas into everyday insights and actions that your audience begins to associate with your brand.
Always-On Content, or Evergreen Content, are topical stories relevant to your market/industry category that are not fixed to a particular campaign, product, or news cycle.
Instead, this content addresses some of the most recurring and meaningful conversations your audience has and attempts to solve them from the perspective you’ve established through campaigns and brand messaging. The result is a halo effect that propels the success of both strategies while priming your audience for lower funnel, demand generation tactics.
When used successfully, Always-On Content becomes the foundation on which to build eye-catching brand campaigns.
An always-on content strategy ensures that whether you produce an article, a video, or an infographic, you create content that’s valuable to your audience; relevant to the questions they are trying to answer; consistent with your brand’s voice and tone; and conveys your authority on the topic.
Putting Always-On Content in Context: Kraft’s “Family Greatly”
In 2018, Kraft, the company behind some of America’s most enduring mealtime staples (i.e., famous blue-box Mac n’ Cheese), embarked on a brand campaign to improve customer sentiment. Responding to research that indicated “80% of parents today feel pressured to be ‘perfect’ parents,” the brand developed a campaign called “Family Greatly,” designed to put families of all shapes and sizes into the spotlight, and show there is no right way to parent.
The video became the centerpiece of this campaign, with a series of spots showcasing real-life parents and children as they try to meet their expectations for what it means to be a family, generating over 13 million views. Kraft used key holiday moments, like Mother’s Day, to push these spots, and later leveraged the Family Greatly campaign to make its first Superbowl ad debut.
Kraft could have let this be a flash-in-the-pan (pun intended) moment. But to support this campaign, the CPG brand built a landing page that housed the main campaign story and curated existing, relevant recipe content to live on this hub. Each one of these recipes incorporates a Kraft product, and links back to their main product pages.
Rather than just rely on their primary campaign to drive brand value and ultimately convert families into fans, they connected their family-themed narrative to evergreen, informative content that complemented the campaign’s value while keeping readers engaged.
When it came time for family dinner, Kraft made it clear whose product to consider.
3 Keys to Producing Memorable Always-On Content
Creating an always-on content strategy that unites your brand under a single, compelling story depends on three key tactics:
1) Know your mission statement and stick with it
Whether it’s a campaign asset or an always-on blog post, everything you produce should embody a singular message you wish to convey to your audience. This mission statement will become your north star when creating content and help your audience identify your brand’s content among competitors.
A mission statement should be no more than a few sentences, and should clearly state who you are trying to reach, what they will learn by engaging with your content, how that will help them, and how it will help your brand.
Seth Godin interprets a brand’s mission statement as the “promise” we make to our audience. What will your content, from your high-level brand videos to your gated ebook, promise to your audience when it comes to value? What should they expect every time they visit a content hub, sign up for a newsletter, or join that webinar?
Understanding that value you bring to the table and what sets your brand apart in offering those insights will help audiences resonate with your work and give you future prompts for your next campaign.
2) Develop content pillars that fuel regular ideation
Once you have a mission statement for your always-on content, you need to translate that goal into core conversations. The sweet spot lies at the intersection of conversations your brand can own and your audience will value. These content pillars should be broad enough that they can support a variety of topics relevant to your market category, but specific enough to your brand that your audience can make the right associations between your topic authority, your campaigns, and your brand story.
[⏩ Jog to timestamp 13:37 for a discussion on content pillars]
Content pillars are not product pages. Instead, think of them like the navigation bar of a website. Each choice should offer the user an experience consistent with the information they want to know or the action they’d like to take.
In the Kraft example above, the “Family Greatly” content hub has clear pillars dedicated to content around recipes, tips, and coupons, each representing different phases of audience action (i.e., from researching recipes to buying the product and getting a deal).
No matter the campaign you produce, these pillars ground your story, and always give your audience a home base.
3) Adopt a hero-hub-help model to connect your brand storytelling
If your mission statement and your content pillars work to build a memorable brand story, then your campaigns and content are what brings it to life. When planning this content, think about how your brand story should scale depending on the channel, the funnel stage your audience is in, and your business goals. Serving the right content, in the right format, at the right time, helps reinforce your brand cues and enhance your chances of driving demand.
One model for representing this style of planning, popularized by YouTube, is Hero-Hub-Help. In this model:
- Hero content often relates to your brand assets, the attention-grabbing content, highly promotable content that casts the widest net of potential followers.
- Hub content provides already engaged people with valuable insights relevant to their pain points. These stories happen regularly, at key points during the year.
- Help content supports everyday conversations, addressing the specific questions your audience seeks answers to every day. This content is less tied to seasonality and will always be relevant.
While each type of content meets different needs for your audience, they should all complement each other in terms of voice, perspective, and brand representation. The value and cues you’ve established in the flashy brand video need to be present in your keyword-driven how-to articles; otherwise, your story becomes disjointed, and your audience won’t make the connection.
Connecting the Dots
Creating unforgettable brand stories depends on having a clear understanding of how you go from brand marketing to demand generation without losing the associations and value you’ve built with your audience.
Here at studioID, we connect these dots through a brand-to-demand approach that balances long- and short-term growth strategies to build the brand, earn trust, and deliver leads. Brands can achieve this through the creation of relevant and timely content that connects all touchpoints of the audience’s journey.
Always-on content is just one part of this holistic philosophy. To learn more about how a Brand to Demand approach can help your business build a compelling, ROI-driven story, check out studioID’s Definitive Guide to Brand-to-Demand Marketing.