When you think about your favorite brands, what comes to mind? An image? A person? A story?
The most powerful brands ingrain themselves into our lives with great content. Historically, this content has been limited to ads and commercials. Today, brands are creating content for a variety of channels, showing different facets of their personality with articles, videos, music, and microsites.
There are hundreds of brands with excellent content marketing programs. However, that’s not very helpful if you’re trying to find specific brands to rely on for inspiration and guidance.
In this article, we’ll take a look at content marketing examples from 10 top brands and dive into what’s so great about each one. By the time we’re done, you should have some ideas and inspiration to take away and use in your own content marketing program.
Example 1: Coca-Cola Journey
What I Love
Coca-Cola has long been a frontrunner when it comes to brand content creation. In recent years, they’re really upped the ante with their online magazine, Coca-Cola Journey.
A few specific things that I love about their content marketing approach:
- The site curates articles, videos, music, and historical tidbits all in one place.
- Content is organized in a way that allows the viewer to choose what they’re interested in and how they want to consume that content (by topic, type, or brand).
- Popular and recommended content is curated and easy to find.
- User-generated content is pulled in via feeds, making the site a two-way conversation between the brand and its fans.
Example 2: The Red Bulletin
Brand: Red Bull
What I Love
Red Bull is the Taylor Swift of brand content marketing. Marketers totally envy their enormous success. Even if you’re not the target audience for Red Bull’s content, you can certainly appreciate their approach.
While the brand has gotten more buzz from their in-person events / stunts, their digital content is equally thrilling. For example, on their microsite The Red Bulletin, they show content marketing savvy in a variety ways.
- Their site looks sexy, reinforcing their modern brand ethos.
- Their editorial content covers a nice mix of topics: culture, lifestyle, sports, and tips.
- Every piece of content relates back to topics their readers actually care about.
- They make great use of imagery, quotes, and videos in articles, pulling them out in a magazine-like way without being beholden to print conventions.
Example 3: Destination Kors
Brand: Michael Kors
What I Love
Michael Kors is a luxury brand, but one with a more approachable, friendly persona than some of the more historic design houses. One tactic that contributes to this persona is Destination Kors, the brand’s content hub.
A few things that really work for this editorial microsite include:
- Content of varying depths, including snaps of celebs wearing Michael Kors clothes in the wild, brief interviews with models, and full articles on trends.
- Expert opinions, predictions, and recommendations from Michael Kors himself.
- Integration of social causes via Kors Cares initiatives.
- Consistent ties back to products without making the content overly sales-y.
Example 4: World in Motion
What I Love
GE is working on amazing projects across the globe. Their World in Motion site does a great job of sharing those stories in an interactive and innovative way.
Some of the many things I love about World in Motion:
- Their interactive map navigation system is really clever.
- You can explore content by region, and they geotarget your region when you enter the site to show you the stories in your area first.
- They let you drill down into stories by topic and by format, providing a highly flexible way to explore content.
Example 5: Flyer Feed
Brand: Virgin America
What I Love
Virgin America is one of my favorite brands. I mean, come on: Their original in-flight safety video was pretty much the best thing ever. (Nuns with laptops! Matador and his disgruntled bull friend! So cute.)
It’s no wonder, then, that I’m crushing hard on their Flyer Feed blog. This content marketing hub really carries out the Virgin American ethos with:
- A great use of dry and snarky humor.
- Fun polls that get the audience engaged with the brand.
- Expert advice (ask Joe G.) that further reinforces how close the brand is to its audience.
- News and deals that aren’t totally lame.
- Their own hashtag library that real live people actually use on social.
Example 6: Think with Google
What We Love
Tech giant that it is, Google has been somewhat slow to get into the content marketing game. Their Think with Google site has been around for awhile, but it’s only in the last year or two that it’s really become a content powerhouse worthy of its discerning marketer audience.
Some of the reasons this site is so great:
- They share tons of original research and case studies in a digestible, interesting format.
- They have a great website design (finally) that makes you want to stick around and read more.
- They integrate interactive tools like calculators and maps into their content to bring it to life.
Example 7: Oh My Disney
What I Love
Given that they’ve built an empire around content, one would expect Disney to be good at content marketing. And that they are. They have a number of blogs for different age ranges and interests, but my favorite is Oh My Disney, which is targeted to millennial readers.
What’s great about this site is:
- It’s got a playful and witty tone.
- It channels BuzzFeed with fun, digestible content that appeals to the emotions.
- It has a nice mix of content about Disney movies and parks.
- They’re able to monetize with ads that aren’t overly pushy (and that tie in with Disney characters).
Example 8: Whole Story
Brand: Whole Foods
What I Love
Before Whole Foods came along, I never would have guessed that a U.S. grocery chain would develop a killer content marketing program. But then, before Whole Foods, there wasn’t a grocery chain with a real brand identity (except for maybe Trader Joe’s).
The franchise’s blog, Whole Story, is completely aligned with the interests and needs of its core audience. A few of the things I appreciate about Whole Story are:
- Their strong content recommendation engine (at the end of each post and also in the sidebar via OneSpot).
- They have practical posts such as recipes and DIY instructions, but also include other types of content such as updates on environmental legislation their shoppers would care about.
- They leverage contests and giveaways.
- They have a clear benefit statement for their email newsletter signup.
Example 9: Four Seasons Magazine
Brand: Four Seasons Hotels
What I Love
The hospitality industry has always provided a lot of content for its patrons—think of those in-room guides on every desk and racks of brochures in the hotel lobby. Today, top brands have expanded their content marketing into the digital realm as well.
Four Seasons Hotels produces one of my favorite hospitality content marketing resources: Four Seasons Magazine. Here are a few reasons this magazine is so great:
- The site’s graphics and design appeal to an upscale audience.
- It features a nice mix of practical tips and hotel highlights.
- The content is tailored to different interests so that foodies, adventurers, spa-goers, and business travelers can all find something relevant for them.
Example 10: The Vanishing Game
Brand: Land Rover
What I Love
Land Rover has struggled with its image in recent years. As a brand, it’s not very sexy. Consumers didn’t really connect with it they way they connect with other automotive labels.
That’s why The Vanishing Game was pure content marketing genius. In this immersive interactive microsite, they employ true multimedia storytelling to convey a thrilling tale that also (secondarily) highlights their vehicles.
Some bits of genius I really enjoyed:
- The effective use of hypertext to isolate background photos and videos.
- The menu of customization options on the right side that allow the viewer to experience the story exactly the way they want to.
- The use of background video in combination with text content.
The Bottom Line
The brands with the strongest content marketing programs are the ones who have a strong identity, great stories to tell, and a savvy understanding of how technology can help deliver those stories in a unique and compelling way.
Great piece, Ashley.
I’m interested in your thoughts on this. As content marketing is so often compared to journalism, at what point is a company’s content creation (even if engaging and useful) tempered by the brand’s lack of ethics? I’m thinking specifically here of Coca-Cola, a brand often regarded as a guru in the field of content marketing. And yet they are spending millions to fund science campaigns that many believe are unethical, and they’ve been caught up in other ethics issues around the world. It’s obviously difficult to measure the metrics of ethics, but I’d love your thoughts on how you see the two (a brand’s content marketing and their social responsibility) intersecting.
Interesting question, Cameron. I think big brands are paying more attention to questions of ethics because their audience is starting to care more about how products are made and companies are run. Newer brands with tie-ins to social causes like Toms, Warby Parker, and others have been successful for this very reason—consumers feel like they’re trustworthy and doing good in the world.
How does ethics impact content marketing? The main shift I’ve seen is in terms of transparency. For example, Buffer has an entire transparency dashboard where anyone can see exactly how they earn and spend money. Bigger brands are being challenged to be more open and honest about their successes and failures. This approach should trickle down into their storytelling and content marketing practices eventually.