Content Strategy

From Fragmented to Focused: How Brands Stand Out in a Crowded Market

By Andrew Wheeler on June 27, 2024

These days, "cutting through the noise" may be an industry cliché, but it's also a necessity. In a world of constant stimulation and endless options, standing out as a brand has never been tougher.

But how marketers approach this challenge has become unsustainable. I see more and more marketing leaders caught in a frenzy of chasing trends and keeping up with channels. Ironically, all this activity is actually blocking organizations from the brand clarity required to achieve category leadership.

Even more concerning is how this pattern contributes to burnout as teams work tirelessly to churn out content and campaigns with diminishing impact.

The real enemy here isn't just market saturation—it's the external and internal fragmentation marketing teams are contending with. Today, audiences jump between platforms, consuming information from an expanding number of sources and applications.

This fragmentation is mirrored within marketing organizations. Brands contribute to their own downfall by managing content creation in silos. When distributed teams churn out content and messaging in isolation, the brand experience gets choppy, messaging becomes diluted, and making a clear impression on customers is nearly impossible.

So, how do we fix the broken formula?

The solution is focus. Focus on defining your brand narrative and owning it across channels.

Because to stand out, you must make it clear to your audience what you stand for.

Crafting your brand narrative

A distinctive brand narrative is grounded in a clear purpose and positioning.

  • Brand purpose, as I've described before, isn't just a collection of marketing messages; it's the essence of what your brand stands for, the values it embodies, and the problems it solves.
  • Brand position, on the other hand, represents your stake in the crowded marketplace. It defines your unique value proposition and the niche you want to own in your audience's mind.

Marketing must master both or risk sounding like everyone else.

Consider the language learning app Duolingo. With a mission to make language learning universally accessible and free, they've carved out a unique position as a disruptor in a market often associated with high costs, dry learning methods, and limited accessibility. Duolingo's free, fun, and inclusive approach is the compass for its content strategy. Their brand narrative focuses on gamification, learning enjoyment, and promoting the joy of new travel experiences. They pay this off with a youthful persona that's consistently on top of pop culture and viral trends. Whether using its app or following its viral mascot, Duo, the brand makes a memorable impression with its distinctive personality and on-brand activations.

To craft a distinctive brand narrative, you must be able to answer these key questions:

  • What problems do you solve that leave competitors in the dust? What's your unique approach or power-up in the marketplace?
  • What future state are you building for your audience? How does your brand improve their lives?
  • Who are you to your audience, and what information or support are you uniquely equipped to provide?

Evaluate your answers with a keen sense of competitive awareness. If you're a smaller brand competing with well-established players, focus on creating a unique point of view and personality that delves into more granular or specialized topics that larger competitors may overlook.

A 3-pronged approach to owning your narrative

Owning your brand narrative is all about establishing a steady drumbeat in the market through connected storytelling.

The leading brands we work with use a three-pronged approach to create impactful content that reinforces their core narrative across channels. While your brand's content strategy may be more complex, these three elements should at least form the foundation.

Suppose your brand is a B2B tech company providing data security solutions. You might focus on owning the conversation around proactive rather than reactive threat detection solutions.

Prong 1: Market-shaping stories | Establish authority and expertise

This encompasses big-picture thought leadership and bold, point-of-view-driven content that helps to establish your distinctive expertise and authority in the market.

For example:

  • Thought leadership pieces: Establish your brand as the authority in cybersecurity by crafting in-depth articles, white papers, and research reports aligned with your ownable narrative. (Ex. An e-book titled "The Evolving Threat Landscape: A Guide to Proactive Data Security in 2024")
  • Industry expert webinars: Host interactive webinars featuring renowned security specialists. Discuss the latest threats, trends, and best practices — all in the context of your narrative. (Ex. A webinar co-hosted with a cybersecurity researcher titled "Staying Ahead of Cyber Criminals: Advanced Threat Detection Strategies")

Prong 2: Substories that resonate | Establish engagement and reputation

These are the many practical and related information pieces that reinforce your main message and satisfy your audience's specific needs throughout their journey on different channels.

For example:

  • Bite-Sized Content: Create snackable, informative pieces that reinforce your narrative across social media and email campaigns. (Ex. An infographic showcasing the staggering cost of data breaches, highlighting the financial impact of neglecting cybersecurity)
  • Customer Testimonials: Feature real-world success stories showcasing the positive impact of your solution. Let your customers amplify your narrative through testimonials highlighting your product's ease of use.
  • Case Studies: Showcase successful implementations of your solution through detailed case studies that quantify the value of proactive threat detection.

Prong 3: SEO Optimization | Establishes strategic reach and visibility

Implement SEO best practices throughout your content strategy to ensure your brand visibly adds value to the conversations that matter to your target audience.

  • Focus on unique value: The use of GenAI is now reducing traditional search traffic for informational queries. To stand out, focus on providing unique perspectives on threat detection, firsthand experiences from CISOs, and trustworthy recommendations for combatting data security triggers. This is information that AI-generated content can't easily compete with.
  • Deep coverage: The traditional method of targeting high search volume keywords is no longer sufficient. Google now emphasizes a site's focus score, which assesses the depth and relevance of a website's content on specific topics. Accordingly, focus on specialization within your niche, delving deeply into various aspects of proactive data security to establish authority.
  • Multi-channel promotion: Search now functions less as a discovery channel and more as a mid- to bottom-of-funnel channel, so plan to create content for search that captures interest generated from other platforms. Leverage social media, email marketing, and industry publications to promote your content, drawing more attention to your ownable narrative and raising your visibility in search in the process.

Remember, your brand narrative is the common thread that binds all this content together. Every piece of content you produce should reinforce your core narrative and position you as an authority on the topics you've chosen to focus on in your space.

Evolving your content strategy: key steps to success

Many brands find it challenging to consistently and synchronously tackle these layers. Fortunately, best practices and tools exist to ease the burden of creating and executing successful story-led, multichannel marketing.

Here are my 5 biggest tips for success:

  1. Thematic planning: Break down content planning silos. Align your teams around a central, thematic content calendar to ensure consistent brand messaging across all channels and stages of the customer journey.
  2. Atomize content: Maximize reach and efficiency. Break long-form content into multi-channel assets, such as articles, video clips, and interactive modules, to meet your audience's diverse preferences and needs.
  3. Leave room for flexibility: Strive for thematic consistency, but build in a 20% buffer to address timely industry issues, ensuring these updates still tie back to your core narrative.
  4. Create with humans; use AI to scale: Leveraging AI can speed up content creation, but don't use it to create commoditized content from scratch. Instead, leverage tools like Skyword's ATOMM™ to quickly adapt your brand's original content for multiple channels and greater reach.
  5. Find the right strategic partners: If you lack the capacity, partner with a company that can help you develop and execute a data-driven content strategy that reflects your brand's unique narrative at scale.

At Skyword, we specialize in solving complex content challenges, helping brands achieve a distinctive and cohesive multichannel experience for their customers. Our comprehensive suite of technology and services includes:

  • ATOMM™: Our AI-powered tool that automatically generates content tailored for specific audiences and channels from existing high-quality content.
  • Accelerator360™: Skyword's AI-powered tool that streamlines SEO content creation by automating tasks like keyword research, brief creation, and writer selection, all to get high-ranking content created and published faster.
  • An Extensive Talent Network: Skyword combines AI efficiency with human expertise. We host a large network of experts and seasoned creative talent, including writers, videographers, photographers, and designers, allowing you to immediately access the right talent for every marketing project.

With the right people and the right tech, you can craft a differentiating content strategy and actually execute on it without breaking the bank.

Ready to get started? I'm here to help.


Andrew Wheeler

Andrew C. Wheeler is the Chief Executive Officer of Skyword.