How to use earned content to strengthen your brand identity?

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24 Mar How to use earned content to strengthen your brand identity?

How can branding on its own become a competitive advantage? Marketers spend a large sum of their budgets on crafting a positioning for brands to create a unique image to stand out from others and appeal to the target audience.  Products and services may be responsible for the majority of the positioning strategy, but let’s not forget about the power of brand identity either.  Brand identity is simply a representation of the company’s values, purposes or passions. Simply put, its about how a company can communicate its concept and values.  Modern consumers tend to purchase from brands that shares the same ideas and personalities that they can associate themselves with.

Developing a brand identity that compels to the target audience is not always easy.  It includes having a specific font and visuals but also marketing communication. Waving user-generated content into crafting the brand identity is a great way to break down the barriers of how customers see a brand and also make marketing efforts more personalized. It seems like a great tool to utilize, but it leaves a question how and where can earned content be used in order to support the brand identity?

We have listed the most important factors that we believe earned content has a biggest effect on.

Authenticity

In previous years marketers noticed a tendency that consumers are no longer seeing brand communication as trustworthy as before and now looking for new ways to find inspiration for future purchases. Global Consumer Report states the would-be customers trust 7 times more the other customers’ content on social media than paid advertising. As Jeff Bezoz once said “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”; so brands that rely solely on paid and owned media communication may consider adjusting their strategy to regain trust and authenticity with customers. Handing the power over to the customers may seem scary but it is the key for reliable content. Showcasing user-generated content in advertisement can create a bond with would-be customers as its real and not manipulated – therefore the story that brands want to tell will remain authentic.

Loyalty

Regaining trust is only the first step for converting customers; the next crucial move is to achieve loyalty. Customers are loyal to brands for various reasons. It could be the represented values, passion or personality but there always have to be a matching point with the customers which allows them to connect with the brand.  According to our clients, user-generated content helps them to enhance loyalty in two ways:

  • The already earned and showcased media creates a sense of community around a given brand for future customers where they can seek inspiration from people alike. A good example could be the fashion industry where stock/studio model photos were (are?) the main selling point that a regular customer can’t sync with, simply due to their physical appearance. But now that you can wave user-generated content into the ecommerce store the visitors are able browse through a gallery where people like them are wearing the clothes. That will increase the possibility of conversion and engagement.
  • Converting regular customers to loyal, digitally active customers will also increase the cycle of content creation even after the point of purchase, generating content that will inspire new customers.

 
Read more about what effect user-generated content have on different customer life-cycle phases here.

Watch and learn from how your customers interpret your brand

The good thing about earned content is that it also provides an insight in what the customers think of the brand, how they use the products, what their lifestyle is, what discussion or challenges they see with the product and so forth, which can also inspire the brands for future development projects. Monitoring customer content could also help brands to understand the motives behind the customers purchase decision and sharing on social media. The majority of brands thinks that they understand their customers, but listening to them may evolve the brand identity.  Applying user-generated content can take brand identity on a new level because it leads to all elements of brand representation, personality, marketing communication and community development.