Insight and expertise are the foundations of many brands. It’s important to convince potential customers you have them – and that means giving some away for free.
Some brands do this with a blog on their website. Others go the extra mile and create a publication, with its own brand, to house their insight content.
Some of these publications exist in print; some are published as PDFs; some as online content. Whatever form they take, creating and maintaining a publication brand takes effort. So what are the pros and cons, and when is it worthwhile to spin off your content offering into its own brand?
The big potential downside of a publication brand separate from your main brand is that it can separate your insights from your organisation itself. The point of publishing insight is to influence potential customers’ perceptions of your brand. If there’s a chance that someone who discovers and values your publication might not connect it back to its parent brand, that’s a problem.
Likewise, if insight is part of your brand promise, but potential customers who see that promise can’t find the insights you’re publishing to back it up, that’s also a problem.
So if you do choose to develop a separate publication brand, it needs to be clearly related to your main brand, and the customer journey between the two brands needs to be straightforward. But why create a separate publication brand at all?
When is it worthwhile to spin off your content offering into its own brand?
Distance and flexibility
A separate brand signals that your publication has a level of editorial freedom from your corporate brand. It suggests to the audience that the publication is not a pure sales and marketing channel in the same way as a corporate blog. If the publication has its own distinct name and look, it’s easier for audiences to accept that it exists mainly to provide them with valuable insights, not to sing the praises of a particular product.
That same editorial freedom gives you new flexibility. Maybe there are messages, insights or opinions that it’s difficult to express within the framework of your corporate brand. A publication with a bit of distance from that brand could be the way to put those messages across.
That flexibility potentially gives you more reach, and that’s the real benefit of a separately branded publication. It lets you target new and different audiences.
If your brand is struggling to appeal to younger people, for instance, a publication designed to appeal to that generation could be a strategy for engaging with them more effectively without changing your entire corporate brand.
And it’s possible that people who would never engage with your corporate brand directly – because they don’t need the services you offer, or because their values clash with yours in some way – could still find value in the content you publish. Perhaps they’ll never become customers, but they could still help you by endorsing and sharing your insights with other people who will. They’re unlikely to do that with your corporate blog, but an expert publication, related to your brand but clearly separated from it, could be another story.
Any of these approaches can work as long as it’s backed up by a strong content strategy. But if you’ve dismissed the idea of forming a publication brand in the past, it’s worth looking again at the value it could provide.