March 9, 2021

Is brand publishing the right route to boost your business?

Have you been having conversations about brand publishing? Are you playing with the idea of dabbling in it? Are you wondering if it is the next step in your marketing journey? If the answer to the above questions is in the affirmative, you have come to the right place. Here we will talk about the many advantages brands have in dipping their foot in brand publishing, how it is different from its close cousin content marketing, and what it takes to become a brand publisher, among other things. This will help you make an informed decision if it is for you. But before that, let’s first understand what brand publishing is.

What is brand publishing?

Brand publishing is a marketing strategy that requires brands to think and act as content publishers and not as advertisers looking to benefit their brand. It is a reader-first approach that focusses on educating and empowering the reader above everything else. To put it simply, brand publishing is when brands start acting like media companies by publishing unbiased content. One of the most relevant examples here is from Adobe. While the blog is an Adobe property, it doesn’t aim to advertise it’s own products but simply is a website for marketers. This is brand publishing done right!

How can you benefit as a brand publisher?

We are sure the first thought that has popped in your mind is that it is the same as content marketing. However, while the two are closely related, there is a big difference. Content marketing efforts are made to further your brand. While it too gives valuable information to educate the reader just as brand publishing, where it differs is that its end-goal is to create awareness about your brand, generate leads and build credibility through effective CTAs. While there may not seem a direct short-term benefit of becoming a brand publisher, there are many in the long run.

The biggest advantage is that it establishes you as an industry thought leader. If you are able to provide quality content that the reader gobbles up, you soon become the go-to resource for all their content needs. For example, if you create a media site that disburses sound financial advice and is able to build the trust of the reader, every time they want to make investments or any financial decision, they will come to your advice. This enables your brand to get top-of-mind recall – a big plus in today’s crowded market environment.

Secondly, brand publishing helps you build a thriving community of people with a shared interest. These include your readers and target customers, as well as other industry leaders. This enables you to understand concerns and drive engaging conversations.

Lastly, as the popularity of your media site and the size of your community grows, it helps you collect and analyze crucial customer data. You can cull insights to learn about their likes and preferences, and pivot your product offering to meet the customer’s exact needs.

What does it take to become a brand publisher?

While the benefits are for all to see, creating and running a media site is no small task. It hence requires a lot of thought before you decide to take the plunge. Setting up and running digital publishing is a separate business altogether. You will need an editor, writers, designers, sales team, tech experts, marketing ninjas, and more. As a brand, you will have to have the bandwidth as well as large financial resources to become a brand publisher. This is the number one criteria for deciding if you should don the hat of a brand publisher or not.  Secondly, you will have to understand the strict distinction between brand publishing and content marketing. Your media site in no way can be a promotional stage for your core business. If you think you can slip in some disguised content marketing material, then the entire purpose of becoming a brand publisher is lost.

Another aspect is how you treat your direct and indirect competitors. You will have to maintain complete impartiality towards them, however hard that may sound. As a publisher, you will have to give them fair credit for their thoughts, actions, and innovations. If you fail to do so, you will lose credibility with your readers. The last deciding factor is your current business. Take on brand publishing only if your core business is doing well and things are running smoothly. If that’s not the case, then brand publishing will only be a distraction, and you will do a disservice to both entities. One of the greatest examples of this is the brand, John Deere. Its magazine ‘The Furrow’ is one of the oldest and greatest brand publishing efforts of all time. The 118-year old magazine is completely focused on bringing value to the reader’s (farmers) life in an honest and fairway. It does so via engaging stories that provide its core readers with information and knowledge that they can apply to their operations. It associates its success with its content strategy that focuses on farmer’s problems rather than on John Deere products, so much so that the magazine sells ad space to its competitors as well.

So, is brand publishing for you?

Now comes the time to answer the big question – is it right for your business? Since you cannot directly promote your brand, the results of brand publishing take time to show. So, if you have the resources and patience to do that, and you are sure you can be an unbiased media source, then brand publishing could be right for you. However, if there is even an iota of doubt, then content marketing is a better option for you.

Remember, to become a brand publisher, you need to be in for the long haul. Who knows, your brand could become the next John Deere or Red Bull!

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Contributors: Aditya, Sanchea and Swapnil