Two Brands Making The Transition Into Media Companies

Two Brands Making The Transition Into Media Companies

We all know Red Bull, whether you drink it or not. For the last several years Red Bull has been changing the way they communicate with customers. It’s been fun to watch the shift from a very focused brand content marketing strategy to one that is now telling more meaningful and relevant stories that are less about “brand positioning” and more about their customer’s passion points. They have been successful at telling these stories and integrating their products in a way that doesn’t seem intrusive or inauthentic. I don’t even drink Red Bull but subscribe to several pieces of their content. It’s that good. A quick glance at their home page looks very similar to CNN. So in Red Bull’s case, they have already made the transition. 

Another very well known brand making this transition is Coca Cola. Earlier this week they launched a new site, The Coca Cola Journey. It’s not their corporate site but I think it should be. It’s dynamic, engaging, interesting and much more human than the corporate site. For one, they have third party contributors and employees writing about a wide variety of topics. I can only assume that this content did not have to go through some type of “brand messaging” approval which makes it so much more real. They have aligned their content around topics like innovation, sports, business, health; and also have specific pages for videos and blog content. They certainly don’t forget about the brand. Despite the red & white colors, they have an exclusive portion on their site that highlights each one of the sub brands and they integrate social conversations specific to each one. It’s very well done.

Why is this important and why am I talking about it?

As I mentioned in my last post, all brands (especially B2B) must start thinking, acting and operating like media companies.  Unfortunately, it’s not like we can turn on the “media company” button and change operations overnight. It requires a change in attitude, behavior, thinking coupled with processes and governance models; as well as technology that can facilitate the transformation – all elements that make up a social business strategy.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Establish a centralized team: You can call it a Center of Excellence, Editorial team or whatever. They will be responsible for everything below.
  • Define the content strategy: Decide what you will align brand messaging with (passion points, community/media perception, search behavior), which channels make sense to build community, curation strategy, who will feed the content engine (employees, customers), timing and frequency of posting, content measurement, etc.
  • Assign Roles & Responsibilities: Remember, think like a media company when doing this (i.e. contributors, editors). Who will be responsible for creating content, approving content, publishing content; and more importantly, who will be the community manager that will be engaging once the content is published?
  • Build a Command Center: Yes, like the ones you see in movies like the Bourne Legacy but this data will include “branded”, “unbranded” and “industry related” terms.  You will not only use the command center for crisis and customer support, but also to gain insight into “what’s happening now” in the industry you work in. It’ll help drive relevant and real-time content creation opportunities.
  • Process & Workflows:  This will help define the who, what, when and where when it comes to content creation, approvals, publishing and real-time optimization.
  • Technology Selection: there are tools like Kapost, Compendium, Divvy HQ, Spredfast, Sprinklr and Hootsuite Enterprise are worthy technology solutions to look into.

Sounds easy, I know. The challenging part of this whole process is behavior change. To make this transition successful, traditional brand marketers (and organizational leaders) must buy into the vision, support it, sometime drive it and certainly live it.

About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • Marty Thompson

    Michael, good stuff. What I share below is not meant to be a slight to the effort at Coca Cola. Rather, it is my caveat for companies that intend to become media centers, but attempt to do so by cloaking themselves with journalism monikers.

    There is a huge trend happening in the marketing industry, and it has two components. The first is the ongoing chatter about all things content marketing, which in turn, is to some extent, coupled with the notion of effective storytelling.

    The second component is the notion of brand journalism, that brands can become media providers, not just content and stories focused on the brand’s product or service, but act as news outlets. Companies are under the spell of the breathtaking transition of traditional media, and true journalistic independence, to the digital realm. Suddenly, everyone is a citizen journalist (which is simply nonsense).

    Coca Cola recently made headlines with their push to morph their corporate site into a consumer magazine, fueled by over 40 freelance writers, photographers, and others. Now it gets interesting in part due to their take that to be a “credible source”, they will devote some air time to opinion columns that may not be directly in line with content that is favorable to the brand.

    But this is where I take note, and exception.

    Brands in many cases today understand that to compete effectively, they have to at the very least pay lip service to issues ranging from environmental sustainability, to human rights. Part of this commitment to social responsibility implies that a company should take a hard look at their business, and work towards improving where it is relevant to their business practices. Given the past problems that Coca Cola has had in India and Africa where water stewardship has been a key issue, I was not expecting so much effort to be reflected in the Journey site. But I was wrong.

    Coca Cola has devoted an immense amount of effort to discussing this issue, as well as sustainable packaging, agricultural impact, etc. I would encourage you to read their 2012 Sustainability Report.

    Now this is a great start, and I commend Coca Cola for including such information. But it is not “brand journalism.” We should never confuse subjective “storytelling” with the storytelling of parents and their kids, the stories we read and discuss in our places of worship, the stories of our families.

    A great next step for Coca Cola would be to establish a platform where these sorts of issues are front and center, where the community of consumers, activists, and neighbors can interact.

    I would also submit that a consumer ombudsman be a permanent fixture in this community, and that they be given the autonomy to yes be painful at times.

    If corporations ever for one moment think that journalism can exist within the bounds of marketing, they are simply positioning themselves squarely in the middle of the next hype cycle.

  • Michael Brito


  • Desiree

    I’m impressed with both Red Bull and Coca Cola’s social media plans lately. You’re right, whether you consume their products or not, we all know the brand. They will only continue to expand and dominate their industries.

  • Michael Brito

    Thanks for the comment Desiree.

  • agência facebook

    Great post, its another big step for this two