Brands must learn the 'language' of content
I cannot distinctly remember the first time I heard the sentence "content is king." But somehow, as my life took me through the passage of time, I found myself baffled in the centre of a roundabout, where everything related to content was connected with each other, like an estuary and a world full of possibility. And probably in one's professional career, it wouldn't be possible to explore the entire universe of content.
To me, simply, this is the world of content.
It took me around eight good years to realise that content is no king. Rather, to almost every extent, it's more focused on people: us. Content is the building block of the very emotions through which we want to express ourselves.
Having said so, delineating the precise definition of content, especially from a brand's perspective, is difficult. Content – this single word contains hundreds of meanings and thousands of associations, depending on the context – could be a phrase, a sentence, an image, a snippet, a video, speech, white paper, letter, article, an entire TV series, memes, and whatnot. This idea engulfs words, signs, symbols, images, everything!
However, when it comes to content, what is most imperative is how brands communicate with the people whose attention they intend to grab. Do they speak their language? Or just talk to them for the sake of talking?
In theory, brands should develop their very own language, depending on how they want to describe themselves and their offerings to the customers and demonstrate their commitment to enhancing the lives of people. And to do that, brands must value the people, understand what they need, be certain of what they offer to meet those specific demands, and help the community thrive.
But in reality, I often see a huge lack of connection when brands try to communicate with people. In Bangladesh – as I experienced while working with many brands – it is quite difficult to single out a specific brand that personifies unique attributes in its language, let alone express ideas in a vivid and imaginative way. Moreover, they seem to flaunt their panache. Most multinational brands that operate in Bangladesh use localised content, unlike what they do in other markets, such as in neighbouring India. They adapt (or translate) the content they produce for their principal market/other regions. But what is absent in most of the localised content are authenticity and cultural integration. While we talk about terms like globalisation and the global village, that does not mean the people in one country or region will show the same gestures as others, not even those in neighbouring countries.
Global consumer culture also does not necessarily mean that consumers from different countries will share the same values and traits. Bangladesh is an emerging market, and inhabitants here are also slanted toward new things, and this has been no secret for many years, but at the same time, it is the fact that they are unique in behaviour, attributes, and culture. On the other hand, local brands simply lack the motivation to carry out research to truly change the lives of the people, especially those living at the grassroots level. Therefore, the content they produce deviates from its objective of establishing the desired relationship with the market.
To bridge the gap, brands must first acknowledge that they are missing this connection, and the connection shall be built upon the content, representing the culture, beliefs, preferences, socioeconomic factors, and the unique needs of the target market. It is brands' responsibility to evolve with the people, so they have to take the first step.
Second, to create compelling content, brands have to understand the psychology of the market, and the most straightforward way to do that is to talk to their audience and listen to what they have to say. Build relations, understand their language, adapt to their tone in your own way, and then develop content.
Sure, we have access to numerous social listening tools – most of which can help the brand understand what the trendy topics on social media are, what a vast portion of netizens think about specific topics, etc. However, we often tend to overlook emotional values despite their profound impact on people. Be it in the digital or physical world, we should think about the audience as human beings, not just the target market or some number or ID. If the brands lack empathy here, the content they produce will be another forlorn attempt, and the tree of relationships will never grow.
Content plays an inextricable part in building an affinity between a brand and its market. As mentioned earlier, it is the building block of our very emotions. Hence, while developing a strategy and mapping out a plan for content to connect with people, it is wise to try to give the audience what they want, how they want it, hence making them feel special and telling them tales in their language while also using the brand's own voice.
Kamrul Hasan is a communication professional. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org