The CoolBrands Awards were announced this week and it’s no surprise to see American tech giant, Apple, in poll position as the ‘coolest of the cool’ brand.  

The annual initiative, by CoolBrands (part of Superbrands UK Ltd), identifies the hippest brands loved by Britons. This year it has revealed some obvious choices within its top 20 list:  Nike (4th), Glastonbury (5th), Twitter (8th) as well as many high-end luxury brands such as Aston Martin (2nd), Rolex (3rd) and Chanel (13th).

While it’s great to see such brands prospering in these times of economic austerity I am particularly interested in the smaller niche brands that have made the cut this year.

No disrespect to the brand giants. They do a great job, but on big marketing budgets. What I love to see is how the smaller companies are making the grade.

Here I’ve selected five of my favourites from this year’s pick (in alphabetical order!). These companies are great examples of effective content marketing… and possibly on a shoestring. So we can all learn a thing or two!

Daylesford

Although not at the low end of the price spectrum (with its farmshops in some of the wealthiest haunts in the South East) Daylesford Farm is a great example of how to do content marketing simply.

It regularly posts fun, relevant content on its blog, I like the latest on how its organic bacon is made. Daylesford also uploads great pictures of what’s happening on their farm on Facebook along with free to download recipes – the latest is how to make their brown-sauce.

It has a foundation that aims to educate children and young people about organic food, sustainable farming and the countryside. And its blog hosts guest posts from partnering organisations.

With more than 12,000 followers on Twitter the Daylesford team regularly engages with fans, from giving them a chance to win a free cookbook right through to advice on the weather conditions at the farm.

It certainly deserves to be recognised as a ‘CoolBrand’.

Ella’s Kitchen

A firm family favourite, especially in our house, Ella’s Kitchen was born out of a desire to make healthy kids food free from additives. It’s fun, bright and tactile packaging is a great way to get the kids on board too.

Its website is packed with content to engage parents with, from fun adult-led activities to try at home with your baby such as making a rattle and how to make eating healthy food fun for kids.

It’s got great videos on its site from pop star Rachel Stevens singing old nursery rhymes with new lyrics to cute little ones on tape talking about what recycling is. I like their use of Facebook – with snippets of advice and encouragement as well as live Q&As with a nutritionist and the usual giveaways.

Ella’s Kitchen has also got the marketing part of content marketing right, encouraging parents to part with their email address in exchange for freebees and offers.

GymBox

This is not your run of the mill gym. Founder and managing director, Richard Hilton, has gone out of his way to make his growing gym empire a place where you sweat with a smile on your face.

With neon lights, disco balls and djs playing regular set lists at night this is a step up from its big bland competitors. Classes range from rave dancing with glow sticks to African dancing with bongo drums.

The club’s emphasis is on building a community with its members and it does this by regularly hosting parties outside of the gym, featuring interviews with members about their training schedules on their blog (promoted on Twitter) and creating competitions between members in the gymboxplayhard nominations (winners of which are featured on Facebook).

It has some great video clips from the electric hoop class, Thai boxing to the urban circus party.

Ottolenghi

We are massive fans of this cool chef and brand. From his column in the Guardian magazine, his cookbooks to great content on his site, Ottolenghi certainly knows how to do content well.

Social engagement is also high on this brand’s agenda having created its own rewards system. You can earn points by liking his products on Facebook (10 points) to sharing products using Twitter (10 points) to reviewiing a product (25 points) & more.

Punters are enticed to sign up for the regular newsletter (15 points) in exchange for exclusive content and offers.

Its blog posts are full of aspirational pictures of tempting products plus wine advice. Over on Facebook fans are treated to exclusive interviews with Yotam, recipes and product recommendations.

The Saucy Fish Company

Perhaps the only “cool” thing to come from Grimsby (apart from White Horse’s very own tech director, Tony!) this responsible fish company is putting seafood firmly back on our plates at home.

Its Facebook site is packed with trivia (FishFacts such as, did you know the Cat Fish has 27,000 taste buds compared with our measly 7,000?), free recipe ideas and Fish & Quips competitions.

Its regular blog updates support its social activity and feature recipe ideas from around the globe as well as how to eat fish on a picnic! In the next couple of weeks they’ll be on tour at a Tesco or Sainsbury’s near you giving away samples and freebees. Yum.

If you need to be converted about the nutritional value of eating fish they’ve a downloadable factsheet packed information to convince you.