Marketers may think their online content sends the right message, but innovative tools like Wordles sometimes tell different stories.

Seventy percent of companies use content marketing to reach their online goals, which might include an increase in web visibility, higher traffic, more leads, additional conversions and stronger brand awareness. However, some marketers lose sight of the real messages they want to convey when writing regular content for the web. 

How can marketing teams miss the mark when they spend ample on the front end of campaigns, hashing out the tone that’s just right and will resonate with target audiences? The answer: brand guidelines often evolve as consumer’s transient wants change and hot subject matter transitions from one field to the next. Conducting regular analysis of a content strategy can help any marketing team identify opportunities to regain the core of their brand message and maintain relations with ideal audiences

Brand guidelines are more than a set of rules 

Restrictive guidelines can creep in while marketing teams hammer out the dos and don’ts of an editorial brief, long before blog posts and news articles are ever published to their websites. Of course, companies want their content to reflect products and services, while also maintaining a sense of professionalism. However, marketers shouldn’t become so lost in the details that they overlook the messages they actually want to send.

A brand’s voice must convey more than product specs and technical jargon to be effective. Sure, those terms will accurately reflect the business’ core offerings and even earn the brand some online credibility – dare I say, thought leadership? – but do those words ring true with the gamut of prospects in their lead lists?

It’s important to remember that custom content gives marketers a voice to reach new and existing customers. While collateral must be straightforward and often serious, it should also include enough creative flare to capture readers’ attention.

Getting up close and personal with words 

Understanding a brand message sometimes requires marketers to take a closer look at the parts that make up the whole. That’s where Wordles come in. (I know what you’re thinking – it sounds lame, but the results provide teams with an honest look at the message that makes up all of their landing pages, blogs and news articles.)

A word cloud generator creates a Wordle, which shows expressions that dominate a brand’s content marketing campaign, displaying the most-used terms prominently. Marketers can use these to see whether words that resonate with their current brand message are being used frequently or falling out of focus.

Brafton Article Wordle shows the message behind the content marketing.

Take this recent Brafton article about the importance of content analytics for integrated marketing campaigns.

What’s the first thing you notice? The word “search,” then “marketing” and finally “content.” Those are important terms for Brafton, but the picture shows the story might have benefitted from a heavier focus on the main idea – analytics.

Sites like Wordle.net can even create word maps of larger collections of web content to get a bigger idea of the words frequently being used. A sample of Brafton articles posted over two days looks like this:

Brafton's Wordle shows the terms more often used in web content.

The results are similar, but other key terms like “social,” “percent,” “paid” and “algorithm” also appear. This is because Brafton covers a lot of industry news about content marketing. However, some significant ideas like “media,” “brands,” “digital” and “results” are smaller in the picture and could be played up to emphasize the way Brafton helps its clients see results from internet marketing campaigns.

Compare this with results from some of the most powerful brands around the world, which include Apple and Coca-Cola, according to Forbes’ Most Powerful Brands list.

A wordle of the Apple site gives an idea about what these companies are doing right.

Apple's Wordle shows the brand uses a variety of terms that match its brand message.

The first words you notice are probably “Mac,” “Apple” and “iTunes,” but the image has also has a strong showing for terms like “performance,” “new,” “faster,” “generations” and “love.” 

While the technology developer has built a loyal following around its core products, some argue that Apple advocates are equally as hooked by the brand’s sleek image and cutting-edge innovations. This shows in its word choice. The company has succeeded at weaving terms like “power,” “faster” and “design” into its marketing materials to keep those ideas at the forefront of customers’ interactions with the brand. 

Coke is not just one of the most powerful brands, but also one of the most recognizable. This might be the result of its consistent messaging, which carries the same iconic ideas across channels, from television ad campaigns to online content.

Coke's blog Wordle shows the company is conveying its core messages throughout the site's web content.

While Coke’s site couldn’t be aggregated for a bigger-picture wordle, the text from one blog entry demonstrates the brand’s success in pushing core ideas and beliefs to the front line. 

Even in seemingly unrelated topics, such as the story about an individual’s journey overseas to make the world a better place, the illustration shows a clear message the company wants to convey. It speaks to what’s “young,” and points to “innovation,” “sustainability” and “Millennials.” The blog doesn’t even focus on its core products, but instead relays the idea that Coca-Cola is still youthful and cutting edge. 

So give it a try. Plug the some blogs and articles into a Wordle and see if the image displayed gives a proper sense of the brand’s identity. If it doesn’t, it might be time to bring out those brand guidelines and spice them up with terminology, ideas and angles that truly embody the company’s core values and goals. These changes will show through in branded content and can help companies close in on those web marketing goals.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.