Tweet tweet: crafting a good content strategy both necessitates and enables  brand development.

If you weren’t lucky enough to visit Cleveland for Content Marketing World’s annual extravaganza, don’t worry: the top takeaways from Kevin Spacey and our own Christine Oneto (whose wrap-up will grace the blog on Monday) have saved you the flight.

One of the most interesting things about setting content strategy, to my mind, is something that was echoed at Content Marketing World, and that is this: good brand development and good content marketing go hand-in-hand.  If we’re not telling a consistent brand story in a consistent tone of voice, the high-level brand identity (and its story) is missing.

And, by that token…

 3 Tips for Content Strategy & Brand Development

1) Tell Our Story

What’s our story?  Looking at the highest level of story is the place to start; who are we, and how did we get here?  Knowing the answers to these questions from the 1000 foot view is critical before we start mapping out a content strategy.  One exercise I’ve found useful in the past is the “elevator pitch” exercise: can you describe who your company is in 30 seconds or less?

TIP: Having an internal “elevator pitch” contest wherein you ask employees to submit their pitches is a great way to see how your own employees view the company, and typically some interesting brand identity learnings come out of it.

2) Be Authentic: Voice is as Important as Story

Establishing a consistent tone across channels is important, and so is authenticity.  Social marketing depends on real people acting like real people, and it’s important that the different people we have representing our brand have an honest and consistent tone of voice that differentiates them, without diverging from the overall brand voice.

3) Make Customer Personas

Who are your customers?  Taking a pass at personas with actual data from your system is the best; making educated guesses is second best.  By making these personas, we can make sure that our brand voice is appropriate for the people we want to be talking with in the first place.  And, a good content strategy involves mapping all your content to these customer personas.  Two birds, one… feeder.  (The animal-lover in me doesn’t want to stone birds even metaphorically, so let’s just feed them simultaneously, shall we?)

TIP: If you don’t have good customer data, look at your top 100 customers and cross-reference social networks to help develop your personas.

The good news here is that, if we’re working on a brand development project, our content marketing efforts will be rewarded.  By the same token, if we’re working on a content marketing strategy, we’ll naturally find places where our brand development needs some fleshing out.