Brand Journalism: An Emerging Trend

In the year 2004, McDonald’s employed a new marketing strategy that Larry Light, its chief marketing officer, called “brand journalism”. But, what is brand journalism and its relation to marketing?According to Light, it was not possible for brands to communicate what they represented to their customers through means of just a single ad. It was also not possible to approach marketing with a one size fits all strategy. What was needed was the segmentation of their customer base to appeal to each group separately. In other words, provide each potential customer with what they want, keeping in mind that not all people want the same things.

What is Brand Journalism

While brand journalism can be defined in many ways, the gist of the concept is to use the skills required for journalism to promote a brand. Brand journalism involves creating content related to a brand’s products to appeal to customers. Instead of selling ads, marketers ply their customers with stories about their brand and happenings in the real world that are related to their products. In this type of marketing, you don’t just have one target audience, you have many, and you appeal to each of them by furnishing each group with the kind of content that it seeks. The rationale behind this approach from the point of view of businesses is the following – if a business provides content that attracts readers, then the readers will repay the business with loyalty.

This approach to marketing allows marketers to directly connect with their customers. Think of it like publishing a magazine. A travel magazine, for instance, has many articles that talk about various aspects related to travel. Articles may be published in the form of city guides, travel tips or travelogues, but they are all based on a central theme.

Similarly, brand journalism revolves around a brand and its products. It is like creating a magazine that gives you information on various topics related to that brand. If the magazine provides content that pleases you, then you will continue subscribing to it. A good example is the magazine Red Bulletin, published by Red Bull, that covers a wide range of topics, from sports to lifestyle.

Content Marketing Trends

A report published in October 2014 indicates that 70% of B2B marketers were producing more content than they had the previous year. Another report, published in October 2013, makes a similar revelation. Such reports clearly indicate trends tending towards an increased emphasis on content generation by B2B businesses as part of their marketing plans. But the trend is not confined to just these businesses. Similar reports indicate the same trends in marketing strategies of B2C businesses as well.

While McDonald’s may have felt the need to change their marketing strategy as early as in 2004, brand journalism is more relevant today than ever before. It is no longer possible to attract customers just through ads; there are too many brands for that to work. If you have to stand out, you have to provide content that the customer seeks and you have to do so consistently. Utilizing the skills traditionally employed in journalism will help create content that is not just relevant, but also more effective.

Image Credit: Arturo de Albornoz via flickr