Lots of basic content written purely to force clicks (or, worse yet, satisfy bots), clogging up the pipes of the internet and burying truly interesting, compelling, meaningful pieces beneath an avalanche of mediocrity. And while these articles that artlessly answer baseline questions might grab a few clicks from searchers looking for the most simplistic of answers, they don’t really serve higher-value purposes – or audiences – very well. It depends quite a bit on your business, but it’s probably fair to say that someone who’s searching “What is insert the most basic term for what you do here” isn’t a client that’s particularly close to reaching out and engaging you for a project with multiple zeros.
Fortunately, the types and formats of content on the web are vast. And one great mode to try borrows from traditional journalism’s legacy of research, storytelling, and compelling detail. You might call it brand journalism or corporate journalism, but at Edgar Allan we just call it the only way to create ongoing content that both thrills clients and doesn’t make us hate life.
Before you keep reading, you should know we have a whole podcast on this topic called The Brand Journalist, written and voiced over by me, Edgar Allan’s Director of Strategy and Content; lots of detail spoken on the subject from the very depths of my jaded soul. Check it out on Apple Podcasts.
At its essence, brand journalism looks at brands as having something to say beyond “Here’s why you should buy my product.” That means creating pieces that do more than hit the basic notes of content creation – correct keywords, adequate length, and general adherence to a topic that your brand might reasonably have information about. Brand journalism tells a story. It is researched and delightful to read. It conveys complex ideas. It does not feel as if it were written for robots even if it wasn’t necessarily conceived as such.
Content in the generic is a blunt instrument of information masquerading as insight. It adds little to the world and sucks the air out of a good idea in about 600 words.
Brand Journalism is about quality over quantity. One really great article about a really important thing (plus the potential to peel it apart into twenty equally interesting points ripe for social snacking) trumps ten pieces with half an original thought to squeeze out between them.
Brand Journalism adds soul to utility, attempting with all its heart to speak to the beating red things inside your customers’ or clients’ chests, in the language that excites them most, with the information they crave woven throughout.
Brand Journalism centers, unsurprisingly, on brand.You likely worked hard to define that glowing big idea at the core of your product, but that place where why meets the where and what of content creation at the marketing layer is often where we see great brands go to glory – held upas beacons but largely ignored in the meat of what makes it to customers’ screens.
Edgar Allan is a brand to build Webflow Agency, so in addition to content creation and content strategy for our clients and ourselves (check out our blog for lots of thoughts on this and more, BTW), we also focus on content design – a content-first or content-always philosophy that sees content as an integral element of design and treats audience needs for information to be presented in specific ways as the guiding light behind page and site creation. We’re passionate about it, speak about it, built our web development process around it, and we even teach a course on it.
All that is to say that we see brand journalism as an extension of the content-always philosophy and our brand-to-build methodology.
The principles of content design dictate that audience needs drive the format and display of information. Edgar Allan’s evolved take on content design adds a layer of brand alignment to the process, ensuring that strategic brand position, vibe, and story are reflected in site narrative and content type and presentation.
Brand journalism is just another way to honor audience needs in content. Google loves articles that answer questions. But answering a question is not where content usefulness ends. When building an entire ecosystem of content around your brand, using connected strategies like first-person narrative, descriptive storytelling, pacing and problem/resolution structure (among a million other things you should try that create memorable, meaningful information transmission) mean not just interested eyes (or algorithms) skimming, but engaged minds yearning to dig deeper.
Write it, and write it well, and they will come…to buy your product, hire your firm, be your brand’s advocate beyond the last period on the page.
Edgar Allan is a content- and brand-focused Webflow agency, and boy do we have a lot to say. Check out our blog, browse our services, and listen to our Director of Strategy & Content talk about Brand Journalism via her podcast, The Brand Journalist (available on Apple Podcasts) for much more.