93% – that’s how many organizations said they rely on content marketing for brand building and demand generation this year according to the Content Marketing Institute. With 87% of buyers stating that digital content has a large impact on their purchasing decisions this year, it’s clear that content marketing is on the ups.
So who’s doing it really well? Which content marketing brands have rocked the boat and set the example? We scoured our archives and asked content marketers to weigh in, and here’s our list of the 32 Top Content Marketing Brands of 2015.
Denny’s blog is a downright hilarious collection of user-generated content, upbeat notes of encouragement, and silly food humor. It’s definitely a marketing “grand slam.”
Who said science and tech content had to be nerdy? GE’s Instagram proves that it can be an aesthetically pleasing thing of beauty that is anything but boring. Top notch photography and creativity combine to make it a content innovator. (Learn more about GE’s content marketing strategy here.)
Need a lesson in brand storytelling? Look no further than Lyft’s #whyILyft stories, which tells the human stories of Lyft drivers and passengers. Uplifting, smart, and visually stunning. (Learn more about Lyft and Uber’s content marketing showdown here.)
Relevancy is something all content marketers have to strive for, and Cheerios hit the mark. One example: their #HowToDad ad on YouTube, which captures what modern dads are all about – coolness, hands-on parenting, and being awesome.
This ad from startup Hello Flo, a company that ships women period products automatically every month, introduces us to “The Period Fairy,” a clever take that removes the stigma of a girl’s first period. There’s even a Santa and Tooth Fairy cameo – cute, to the tune of 1.8 million views!
It’s been one year since ALS ran with possibly the greatest UGC social media success ever, and its researchers have announced that there’s been a significant breakthrough thanks to the funds raised. Other brands and charities will be trying to emulate this campaign for years to come.
Goldie Blox’s Super Bowl commercial put them on a map with marketers and consumers. Another lesson in relevancy and not assuming that the best way to market to girls and their (increasingly Millennial-generation) parents is with pink and sparkles. Since then, the company has created the Bloxtown.com website with cute animations and how-to video content geared toward helping girls with their construction sets.
Maybelline’s blog is a real beauty when it comes to content design and social integration – perfectly capturing the looks and attidutes of the selfie generation. It features social buttons and interactions on site, making it incredibly easy and natural for the user to engage. (Learn more about the top beauty brands in content marketing here.)
Brands who value a lively tone of voice would to well to check out Taco Bell’s social media content. It has a healthy following of 614k on Instagram, and lots of engagement on every post.
Here’s a brand who knows how to tell its story – year after year. Its Holiday 2014 spot, “The Song” proved yet again that technology could have a sweet, sentimental and very human side. Bravo!
If there’s one thing you can say about AT&T when it comes to branded content, it’s that they are not afraid to experiment on different platforms. On the heels of its successful social media series called @SummerBreak – which was essentially a reality show for Millennials that ran two seasons and earned more than 60 million views – this year, AT&T sponsored SnapperHero, the first scripted Snapchat series starring Snapchat, Vine and YouTube influencers.
You have to admire the way Coke keeps pushing for creative content, even as one of the world’s most valuable and established global brands. Their “Share A Coke” campaign was a standout campaign of 2014, and it’s still going strong this year. Coke’s digital content keeps interactive features at the forefront.
Commerce and content can lose authenticity when you put them together. On Refinery 29’s site, these two elements live in harmony with beautiful photography, fun buzzworthy listicles, how-to videos, and calls to action that are there to be clicked, but not in your face. (See our feature on Refinery 29’s innovative “Trans America” project here.)
Red Bull is always on the top of branded content lists with its unending commitment to high-octane digital content. Producing content at this level requires a journalistic level of commitment to capturing events on the ground (or, in some cases, in outer space) and no one does it better.
No storefront? No problem. Do like the folks at Birchbox do, and immerse your audience in your brand through a blog that covers lifestyle topics that they’re interested in. Birchbox takes it a step further, too, using the products they ship as the basis for content. (Learn more about Birchbox’s content marketing strategy here.)
Doritos is usually best know for its user-generated content touchdowns (like having consumers produce and pitch their Super Bowl commercial through social media). This summer, they tried something new by offering exclusive, 3D video content around its new Jacked 3D snack. As a mobile-only campaign, fans actually use the snacks to unlock access to the 3D videos. (Learn more about Doritos’ UK marketing campaigns here.)
Blogs help brands shore up loyalty: if you can give the consumer good content at home, they’re going to come back to your site or storefront full of ideas about what they need to purchase. Whole Foods’ blog expertly plays its content to a healthy-living audience with a mix of recipes and tips.
The Sharpie blog is bright, colorful, and highlights (get it?) the artistic creativity of its users. Its content and web design provide the perfect canvas for showcasing what Sharpie products are capable of.
The world’s favorite camera is also one of its favorite Instagram feeds: 6.2 million people, at least, think the brand’s visual content is incredible. We’ll let it speak for itself.
Making your brand and your content work together is one of the most important ways to be sure you’re staying authentic, and BHLDN’s blog and email marketing provides an example for the ages. With content that ranges from funky floral arrangement how-tos to cool photo shoot staging ideas, users are glad to say “I do” to the smart content offerings.
Home Depot’s creative Vine feed is the stuff of content marketing dreams. Their content on the platform features everything from quickie DIY project how-tos to cool uses for old products. It’s one of the best uses of Vine out there — and 7.6 million loops agree. A bigger catalogue of in-depth how-to content can be found on The Apron Blog.
Nike’s “Better For It – Inner Thoughts” shines the spotlight not on elite professional athletes, but women who are in the daily grind of challenging themselves to get fit. With over 8.3 million YouTube views, and lots of shorter clips that correspond with the campaign, Nike put its best foot forward to connect with everyday women, and ran with it.
No matter how many great campaigns it puts out, Gatorade still thirsts for excellence. The brand was recently awarded the Grand Clio Sports award for its 2014 “Made in NY” film, which was sweet sendoff to the retiring Derek Jeter. And as football season gears up, the Manning brothers (Peyton and Eli) are starring in a new reality-style ad series, “Sweat It to Get It.” One spot had 2.6 million views in just its first week.
The Unique Connection was one of this year’s best examples of a brand effectively tugging on heartstrings (and right in time for mother’s day!). Watch it, and we dare you not to cry.
The airline’s Flyer Feed blog is fun, fresh, and aimed to make readers want to jet set in style. From aiport and destination secrets to fun fleet coverage, Virgin America is flying high on content. Learn more about their vacation-focused content marketing strategy as well as their vision to disrupt the hotel industry.
Disney news, quizzes, and more fun stuff, all for the Disney-obsessed? It’s no wonder why OhMyDisney! is so popular among those who love the Mouse. Taking a page right out of Buzzfeed, it classifies content into categories like “yum,” “silly,” and “oh, snap!” while guiding potential vacationers on their way to a purchase.
Colonel Sanders is back! Well, not the real guy, but former SNL actor Darrel Hammond’s portrayal of him, and he’s got people excited about the famed chicken chain again. There’s even a kitschy ColonelSanders.com website.
Two Bellman, a short action comedy film with over 5 million views was created by Marriott’s in-house content studio that was put together late 2014. Pretty innovative – and entertaining – for a hotel company.
National Association of Realtors
When you give readers lots or value to the tune of a full-fledged online magazine, it lends credibility to your brand. That’s what the National Association of Realtors do so well with HouseLogic, a site all about home improvement and real estate tips.
With a twitter feed full of customer and employee experiences and stories, the content that powers #SouthwestHeart is beating strong.
It might be a pet product company, but Barkbox’s Barkpost is all about looking at the world with “a dog’s eye view,” without trying to sell anything. Dog lovers who love sharing the most adorable pooch pics drive the site’s success. (Learn more about Barkpost’s content strategy here.)
Like other food/restaurant brands, Panera has really harnessed the power of Pinterest. By sharing original recipes and healthy living ideals that fit with the brand voice, as well as curating great content on the platform, they’re pinning and winning.
Want to learn more about building your content strategy like these influential content marketing brands? Download our free e-book: “The Ultimate Guide To Building A Content Marketing Strategy” now!
Dawn Papandrea + Lauren Mangiaforte are NewsCred Contributors