Include Brand Journalism in your online marketing toolkit

Brand journalism has been about taking the tenets of journalism and applying them to branded communications. -Brian Kress

Brand journalism, is included as one of the top digital trends for this year and identified as one of the hottest trends for online marketers. Brand Journalism is defined as the combination of professional journalism and brand storytelling to create, curate and share information, whilst engaging and educating the brand’s target audience with relevant content, without an overt sales motive. Brand journalism is not simple content marketing. Content marketing develops content related to your brand, thinking how the brand can benefit from it, whereas brand journalism looks at how an audience can benefit from content that has been created by the brand. According to PRNewser:

“As usual, financial brands like banks and credit card companies have moved ahead of the curve when it comes to “brand journalism.” Prominent examples include projects like American Express’s Open Forum and HSBC’s Business Without Borders—legitimate media outlets designed to promote their underlying brands without directly selling or marketing the products in question by providing relevant, valuable information to their target audiences via original content, guest writers and media partnerships with other prominent third-party  brands like Mashable. Some efforts are less impressive: all the news on Cisco’s “technology news site” The Network seems to be about the company itself”.

In this article, Uriel Alvarado Cancino, Chief Marketing & Public Relations Officer of Saxo Capital Markets UK, examines the latest trends and strategies in Marketing and Brand Management. These include brand journalism, inbound marketing and the “personalization tsunami”.

Global Efficiency that leads to Irrelevance is Irrelevant: Marketing gets Personal

Is your marketing strategy based on getting up close and personal with your audience? For most organisations, the answer is “probably not yet.”

The past five years have seen corporate marketing embrace the strategy of reducing marketing costs and by devising a single global campaign that can be adapted to local needs, often diluting its effectiveness in the process. But times have changed. Thanks to social media, consumer expectations are rapidly evolving. People no longer want a single message from a single source. Instead, they want a cascade of valuable, relevant and engaging content – articles, blog posts, live events, videos and social media – that they can respond to and share.

“Think global, act local” does not longer work. Personalisation is the New Marketing Tsunami

So how can marketers make the personalised approach work? The secret lies in harnessing the power of local teams and prioritising regional engagement over central control.

I’ve been lucky enough to learn about this from the best marketing professional – and the pioneer of brand journalism – Larry Light. Larry is the force behind McDonald’s successful “I’m loving it” campaign. In 2004, Larry as McDonald’s chief marketing officer said that mass marketing no longer worked and that “no single ad tells the whole story”. McDonald’s, he said, had adopted a new marketing technique: “brand journalism”.

Larry defined brand journalism as a way to record “what happens to a brand in the world”, and create multi-channel, multi-faceted and multi-layered ad communications that, over time, can tell a whole story of a brand.

Larry Light recently shared some new sharp and timely thoughts in an article published by Forbes. Crucially, he points out that as the world has become more connected, the need for personalised marketing has become more pronounced. And his recommendation for a successful brand is strongly based on regional empowerment: “We advocate a three-way process. First, collaboratively with the region we define the Brand Ambition, the inspiring platform of where we believe the brand can and should be at a given point in the future. It should be very aspirational. Second, we establish the Brand Framework, the agreed boundaries that define the brand’s common customer experience everywhere. And then, we focus on results through regional implementation within the global Framework.”

Relinquishing Global Brand Power Reaps Profitable Rewards

Essentially, central marketing teams need to take their cues from successful digital organisations such as Wikipedia by establishing a framework and relinquishing responsibility for thought leadership, giving more autonomy to regional and local marketers. Handing over responsibility for generating creative ideas and measurable results to local teams makes it easier to ensure their unique market knowledge and local expertise are used to maximum effect.

While taking this approach means breaking down the CMO’s total control, it doesn’t mean there’s no place for a central marketing strategy. Instead, the CMO becomes responsible for defining global and regional frameworks that will allow local marketers to create and innovate freely without breaching global marketing standards.

Part of this article originally appeared on 

image credit: Stuart Miles

About Uriel

Uriel Alvarado is a highly experienced, senior financial services marketer. In his current role as Chief Marketing and Public Relations Officer, he drives all phases of Marketing, Brand Management and Public Relations strategy for Saxo Capital Markets. He has held numerous senior marketing and PR roles within the Saxo Bank Group including: Global Chief Marketing and Public Relations Officer, ForexTrading, a trade name of FT World Ltd, a fully-owned subsidiary broker in the Saxo Bank Group.

Uriel has diverse experience gained through his studies and work in several countries including Denmark, Mexico, Cyprus, Switzerland, Spain and Japan. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Danish and English. Before joining Saxo Bank, Uriel worked as Marketing and Strategy Manager at a business and branding consultancy, design:success, and co-founded a digital creative marketing agency, The Lighthouse.