May 7, 2018

5 Brands Setting the Bar for Content Marketing

man sitting at desk with computer and coffee shot from above
Photo by rawpixel

This article was originally posted May 2018 and updated January 2022.

As marketers trying to refine our content marketing strategies, it pays to study the brands who are blazing the trail. When it comes to leveraging content to turn strangers into followers and convert loyal fans into customers, these five brands are killing it.

Let’s take a look at how brands are using content marketing to build communities, provide value, and establish trust with their audience.

Coke: Measuring Content Marketing

Coke’s marketing and communications have been so purposeful that it is now more than a soft drink. Coke has successfully delivered transparency and authenticity with a content marketing formula that amplifies “moments” that engage consumers.

Coca-Coloa social medai posts.

Coke’s “Share a Coke” campaign remains one of the most memorable and successful examples of content marketing done right.

The brand believes so much in content marketing that it’s the core of their 2020 advertising strategy mission.

“All advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant, because of the 24/7 connectivity. If you’re going to be successful around the world, you have to have fat and fertile ideas at the core.”

Stanislas Magniant, the Coca-Cola Company’s online communications director for Western Europe, approaches content marketing like “advertising’s new clothes.”  On how Coca-Cola measures content success, Magniant told Marketing Week:

“We make sure to measure the success of our content marketing efforts beyond just traffic data and site analytics. We use tracking URLs for all the content we syndicate to other sites or social channels to track off-site impressions and social engagement.”

In other words, follow your content. You can learn more about your audience, what interests them, and where their communities are.

Kraft: Leading the Way in Content Publishing

With a YouTube channel that dates as far back as 2005, Kraft has long boasted that they are the pioneers of the content publishing realm. They’ve been doing it all – from creating content to curating it to sharing user-generated content.

Kraft's branded pinterest board, featuring recipes and food.

According to Julie Fleischer, Director Data + Content+Media at Kraft,

“Content used to be a side project – now it’s our lifeblood. We realized that content was an asset hidden in plain sight.” Now, Kraft distributes “campaignable ideas, not just assets in a vacuum.”

This realization completely transformed the way Kraft marketed its businesses. Their secret recipe? They shifted their perception from a general to a micro-content marketing approach.

Currently, they target their audience through social listening and personalize the content experience.

Starbucks: Engage and Inspire with Content

Starbucks is the brand you either love or hate. Or maybe, you love to hate it.

No other coffee brand has been accused of being as overpriced and over-hyped as Starbucks. And yet, it remains an industry leader and with thousands of locations worldwide, it’s one of America’s most recognized brands.

Love it or leave it, Starbucks invests heavily in its marketing strategies. Their campaigns have included innovative approaches in email marketing, user-generated content, and social media branding.Starbuck's instagram posts,.

To engage their customers, they take advantage of people’s natural competitive and interactive nature. The brand has done this by creating challenges that reward participants. One of their most successful has been their Instagram “Red Cup Art” competition.

Users post their art and tag it #redcupart, with the winner receiving a year’s worth of coffee. Their content marketing aims to educate and inspire as much as increasing customer engagement.

Red Bull: an Example of Entertainment as Content Marketing

Red Bull is a brand that dominates video content.

The brands’ content marketing involves everything from feature films to TV documentaries to short formats to live broadcasts. They have a Facebook and Instagram following of 49 million and 8.3 million, respectively.  Their main YouTube channel has 6.9 million subscribers.

Red Bull’s success is a result of producing entertaining content as diverse as their audiences, enforcing their global presence.

According to Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner of Red Bull,

“As a major content provider, it is our goal to communicate and distribute the ‘World of Red Bull’ in all major media segments, from TV to print to new media to our music record label.”

With multiple YouTube channels, Red Bull is primarily selling a lifestyle. From hosting events to publishing Red Bulletin magazine, Red Bull creates impressive video and image content. 

Their content tells a story and positions the customer as the hero, showcasing various adventures. With content that inspires people to be fearless and push themselves, it’s no wonder audiences are compelled.

Red Bull is a master in repurposing content. They publish actual footage from their shows and events and use parts of those recordings in commercials. Additionally, Red Bull is proving that print is far from dead. Its Red Bulletin has a distribution of more than million copies.

TOMS: Corporate Storytelling through Content Marketing

The key to customer engagement is storytelling, and one tactic is to highlight corporate social responsibility.

This is something that TOMS has been doing brilliantly through their annual “One Day Without Shoes campaign.  Each May, TOMS encourages people to go barefoot for a day to raise awareness for children’s education and health.

For every person who takes a photo of their bare feet and used the hashtag, TOMS donates a pair of shoes. In 2016, this initiative engaged 3.5 million people in one day

Tom's One Day Without Shoes


TOMS’s UK marketing manager Sheela Thandasseri explains,

“ODWS is a real moment in the Toms calendar. It’s primarily an engagement campaign to drive awareness and create longer-term connections with customers. When people know what we stand for, they become advocates for life, so being a company founded with a social purpose really resonates.”

TOMS’s content marketing strategy has been to create customers for life by not directly selling their products.

Instead, they promote a conscious movement with an impactful purpose. It’s genius branding initiative and they’re far from alone in using the tactic. Read more about this trend in another blog here.

What are the brands that are inspiring you with their content marketing strategies? Email me to share your campaigns and best practices in content marketing.