20 Thought Leadership Examples To Inspire Your Content

Picture of Sam Tetrault

Sam Tetrault

Content & Copywriter - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Sam Tetrault

Content & Copywriter - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
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When it comes to marketing a business, it’s no secret that content is key. Whether you’re managing a small startup or a booming corporation, sharing content with your audience allows you not only to demonstrate your expertise but also answer their questions. In that way, even if you don’t consider them thought leadership examples, your articles – online or on paper – can educate audience members and help you build trust as they become customers. 

With this end goal in mind, the following list is all about inspiration for your next piece of content. From blogs to videos to full-blown directories, thought leadership content comes in all shapes and sizes. However, no matter which format(s) you choose to use in your own marketing efforts, there are a few elements universal to all high-quality examples. 

Below, we’ll cover twenty such examples in more detail along with the brilliant minds behind them. We’ll also break down how each example relates to the author’s primary sales offerings. After all, while valuable content is all well and good, the best content also brings in more revenue for your business. 👍

Let’s dive in! 

Adobe Creative Suite’s Blog

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First, Adobe is one of the biggest names in the game when it comes to software, design, and creativity. Though they have an active social media presence, their blog lets their brand truly shine. On the Adobe Creative Suite blog, you’ll find insights into creativity, digital transformation, and leading trends. You’ll also find ways to inspire your own work through Adobe Creative’s products. 

Adobe takes great lengths to highlight the ways its tools help other businesses shine. By sharing their existing customers’ stories, they build major trust through their blog. Better yet, they solidify their place as the top provider of creative software in the industry. When they share inspiring stories, ideas, and projects, they encourage others to follow their lead. These small dedications to creativity make a huge spark in the creative space. 

American Express Business Class Trends and Insights Blog Graphic for 20 Thought Leadership Examples To Inspire Your Content - SpeakerFlow

Next, American Express has long been trusted by businesses as one of the leading financial service providers. However, their Business Class blog specifically targets one area of their audience: business owners and professionals. This is thought leadership for everyone, providing modern business education to people of all backgrounds. Their insights blog goes beyond the basics to deliver blueprints for success and a brighter tomorrow.

Though the main goal of American Express’ content is to drive conversions for their business credit cards and payment solutions, they also empower business owners of all sizes to achieve more. By sharing expert financial and leadership advice, they show the importance of fostering growth and success within their customer base. Their expertise isn’t taken for granted, and it continues to keep existing customers coming back for more. 

Autodesk’s Redshift

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Another example is the 2021 Webby People’s Voice Award-Winning blog from Autodesk. Designed for those in the architecture, manufacturing, and engineering space, the Redshift blog focuses on the latest and greatest in the industry. Things move fast nowadays, and the editors of Redshift are always looking for cutting-edge topics. 

One way Redshift stands out as a thought leader in this space is its commitment to visual content. Not only is their blog visually stunning, but they also experiment with other types of content marketing. Their biggest success is using video within their blog. 

Video marketing is big business, with a 1200% higher success rate than other types of content. Though it sounds simple, Autodesk leverages video to compel its audience in a new way. Even more important, these videos can be repurposed on social media and beyond to attract a wider net of users. 

Basecamp Founders’ Book, “It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work”

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Creating a blog isn’t the only way to position yourself as a thought leader. Writing a book is a big undertaking, but it also has a large payoff. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are the founders of the project management tool Basecamp. Together, they wrote It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, a manifesto against hustle culture. Though there’s constant pressure to “do it all” and “keep grinding” through the workday, Basecamp’s founders recognized this could be toxic. 

Ultimately, Basecamp markets itself as an all-in-one solution for office chaos. By streamlining your systems and teamwork, it’s possible to manage projects without the stress and last-minute emails. Basecamps’ founders turn this message into actionable steps throughout their book. Not only can readers learn what they’ve done, but you can learn how to apply it to your own organization (and using Basecamp won’t hurt, right?). By promoting their book, they’re also promoting their own brand’s expertise

Brian Dean’s “Backlinko” Blog

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Being a leader in your industry doesn’t happen overnight, but having a blog certainly helps. Brian Dean is one of the world’s trusted gurus on SEO, and he brought his work to life through his Backlinko blog. Tired of the low-level fluff he found in other parts of the marketing world, Brian sought to build a space with no-nonsense strategies. His blog was born, welcoming a new era of SEO leadership.

Through in-depth, highly linkable posts, he built an SEO empire. Today, Backlinko is still the reigning source on everything search engine optimization, and his blog is to thank for his notoriety. While creating a blog is a great first step, Backlinko proves quality really does count over quantity. Each post is thoughtfully written, containing real-world expertise, statistics, and tools to succeed. As one of the best thought leadership examples, it’s impossible to deny Dean’s expertise. 

Deloitte’s “Insights” Blog

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Next, the professional services network Deloitte uses its insights blog to crown themselves thought leaders in all things tech, innovation, and leadership. Through their services span many sectors, they balance these through multiple spotlight sections on their blog. They have thousands of posts about the latest trends, research, and expert tips for industry professionals. Geared towards those active in their industries, Deloitte positions itself as the go-to source for news. 

Like other up-and-coming content marketers, Deloitte doesn’t shy away from alternative forms of media. They feature videos, podcast episodes, and data-driven research on the front page of their blog, appealing to a wider range of professional users. Not only is this type of thought leadership content highly shareable, but it actually furthers careers. 

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand

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Trusted by over 10,000 organizations, Donald Miller’s StoryBrand knows how to turn a single message into a business. StoryBrand isn’t a blog, it’s a collection of media and events focused around the StoryBrand framework for marketing. From online courses to in-person events, Donald Miller positions StoryBrand as the leader in this space. 

With many so-called gurus focusing on endless steps to “transform” anyone into an entrepreneur, StoryBrand has a different philosophy. Instead, StoryBrand’s content focuses on  how you can leverage your own story to stand out, attract your audience, and become an expert thought leader. 

Miller’s reliance on in-person events takes this a step further, transitioning his expertise from the digital to the physical world. There’s something undeniably meaningful about meeting someone and hearing them speak in person. 

First Round Capital’s “First Round Review”

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Started in 2013, The Review sets First Round Capital apart from other venture capital firms. First Round’s goal is to be seen as the frontrunner in their space, empowering companies to unlock their full potential. From guides to starting a company to tech tips, First Round Review is a powerful blog. 

Paired with a podcast, newsletter, and books, it’s easy to see how First Round Capital uses its content to make an impact in its space. Most importantly, First Round Capital adds humanity to an otherwise technical, professional space. By sharing real stories and guides, they position themselves as one of the best thought leadership examples in the VC realm. Ultimately, this serves the purpose of attracting top talent, applicants, and startups. 

GE’s “Txchnologist” Blog

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This online magazine was created in partnership with GE. Hosted on the social media platform Tumblr, this is an untraditional approach to a science and technology blog. Sponsored by GE, this informal blog offers a chance for the experts of Txchnologist to share a wider range of topics shaping our growing world. 

GE positions itself as the leader in innovation and progress. Technologist furthers this mission by showing tech-focused topics through a forward-thinking lens. Easily shared through Tumblr’s platform, this is a great way for GE to promote company initiatives. Because Tumblr is inherently social, it also opens an invitation for collaboration within the space. Technology is the future, and GE demonstrates it’s ready to embrace any changes with open arms. 

Gino Wickman’s “Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)”

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Built by Gino Wickman, the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a set of concepts and tools that help entrepreneurs reach their goals. Though the EOS system on its own is a powerful resource, it’s the community around it that really makes Gino Wickman a thought leader in the entrepreneurial space. While content is a great resource, it’s the people behind the screen that truly make the biggest impact. 

Through community events, directories, in-person workshops, and more, the EOS system is an industry leader. The EOS team even took it a step further with their EOS Rocketfuel University. This is a complete membership and community program for the EOS Integrator Masterclass. With 58% of online communities reporting customers as more loyal because of the engaging community, it’s clear Wickman was onto something with this digital space. 

Mel Robbins’ Books & Coursework

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Next, Mel Robbins’ is one of the world’s most trusted motivational speakers. Known for her TEDx talks, she leverages her books and coursework to take her status to the next level. Though she gives many in-person and virtual talks, she knows her content needs to reach further than the literal audience of any speaking engagement. This is where her books come into play. 

Through her many books, she inspires readers across the globe to change their daily habits so they can achieve more. With titles like The High 5 Habit, The 5 Second Rule, and Take Control of Your Life, she encourages her readers to silence their inner fear and take action. Paired with her courses, Robbins has a powerful, compelling funnel in place to take her customers from prospects to avid fans. 

Microsoft’s “Stories”

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When it comes to making an impact in the digital space, tech companies have to do more than ever before. Microsoft brings its missions and goals to life through its “Stories” blog. With insightful data and stories from accessibility to design, this is an inside look at the culture behind Microsoft. From hiring practices to new projects, Microsoft pulls back the curtain for customers, partners, and team members alike. 

Today, transparency matters more than ever before. People want to know and trust the brands they support. In fact, 94% of customers are likely to show loyalty to brands that offer complete transparency. That’s what Microsoft achieves through “Stories,” and that’s what other thought leaders should replicate. 

Neil Patel’s Blog, Videos & Additional Resources

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In the world of digital marketing and SEO, few names are as recognizable as Neil Patel. Though he’s a New York Times Bestselling author, he’s most known for his blog, videos, and online resources. Most notably, he understands that to be a thought leader, you need to sometimes give away expertise for free. 

By sharing powerful lead magnets in exchange for additional insights and tools, he captures even more channels for communicating with customers. The stats don’t like; a reported 50% of marketers who use lead magnets report higher conversion rates. 

Taken from his own expertise and education, he helps other brands make the most of their digital presence. Additionally, he creates viral video content to reach more of an audience, offering free downloads and tools for budding SEO experts. Though it might seem counterproductive to give expertise away for “free” through a lead magnet or digital download, Patel knows the value of building an audience. 

Nutanix’s “The Forecast”

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Created by Nutanix, “The Forecast” is a place to explore tech trends changing the landscape of business. Nutanix is a cloud solution that supports data centers, apps, and more. Designed to transform the world of cloud computing, it makes logical sense for Nutanix to also promote its expertise as a leader in the tech space. “The Forecast” focuses on digital transformation, or the idea that every company needs to adapt to the changing tech space. 

A PRNews Digital award winner two years in a row, “The Forecast” attracts the right eyes to Nutanix’s content. It’s not enough to respond to changes as they happen. “The Forecast” is on the cutting edge of these changes, making an impact by anticipating the trends early on. By becoming early adopters themselves, Nutanix leads by example. 

Oprah Winfrey’s “OWN” Network

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One of the biggest thought leaders in the world is Oprah Winfrey, and she built a media empire as her foundation. The “OWN” Network isn’t about Oprah or her TV personality. Instead, it’s a TV network with a range of shows and live TV based around her target audience. We’re currently in the Golden Age of TV. There have never been more options when it comes to streaming or live TV, and that means there is also greater competition. 

At first, the “OWN” Network struggled to shine. Though on air for 10 years, this network only recently found its own unique voice within a crowded space. With hit shows like Queen Sugar, Greenleaf, and Cherish the Day, Oprah’s network inspires a new audience beyond her daytime talk show. 

More importantly, she continues to fight for equality both onscreen and offscreen, letting her network break down barriers within the TV industry. Today, the “OWN” network works with some of the biggest names in film and television, and there’s no doubting its growth in the future. 

Patagonia’s “The Cleanest Line”

Patagonia The Cleanest Line Graphic for 20 Thought Leadership Examples To Inspire Your Content - SpeakerFlow

Patagonia is a leader in athletic wear and adventure gear, but how does it take its content a step further? Their blog “The Cleanest Line” shares stories of adventure, conquest, and nature. When asked about their favorite outdoor activities, both Patagonia founders shared the same response: “I’m after the cleanest line on the steepest part of the face.” 

Today, the blog of the same name has shared thousands of stories, and it highlights the core values of the brand. In exploring the world and these stories, Patagonia users become closer to nature and themselves. By sharing these small moments, they inspire their users to search for their own “cleanest lines.” Whether surfing in Hawaii or exploring the tops of mountains, Patagonia challenges its customers to stay true to themselves, nature, and what matters most. As this blog proves, sometimes the simplest things in life are the most valuable of all. 

Philips’ Future Health Index

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Philips is mostly known for its household products, like razors and electric toothbrushes, but the brand’s expertise doesn’t end here. Throughout the past decade, Philips’ transformed into a leader in the world of health technology. They understand that health isn’t one-size-fits-all, and everyone has to follow a larger health journey. 

Their Future Health Index takes the customer journey to the next level. By conducting leading research and compiling expertise from medical professionals, the Philips’ Future Health Index encourages healthcare leaders to create a better tomorrow for their patients. 

Not only does this build trust from patients, but also from healthcare providers who recommend products for their patients. A resource for patients and healthcare providers alike, Philips shines bright as one of the top thought leadership examples to inspire your own research content. 

REI’s “Expert Advice” Blog

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Another outdoor adventure-focused brand is REI. This co-op was founded on the idea of community involvement, and REI frequently gives back to its co-op members in countless ways. One way is through their “Expert Advice” blog. Designed for both new and advanced outdoor enthusiasts, this toolkit brings their in-person stores to life. 

The team at REI understands that starting a new adventure or activity can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have any prior experience. Their expert advice is easily outlined by sport, making it possible for beginners and experts alike to understand what products are right for them. From fitness gear to climbing tools, REI empowers all customers to take the first step into the great outdoors. Written by their own support team, these expert guides prepare customers to make big purchases and lead the way into the great outdoors. 

SpeakerFlow’s Blog

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Of course, our very own SpeakerFlow blog is a great source of inspiration for your own content efforts. As the leading resource for all things professional speaking, SpeakerFlow’s blog answers all of the questions about beginning a career as a professional speaker. Because this blog is written by those with hands-on industry experience, it makes it possible for budding professional speakers to learn what goes on behind the scenes. 

From speaking survival guides to marketing blueprints, this is a one-stop-shop for building your business from the ground up. Created by the leading experts in the industry, our content goes beyond the basics. We understand that everyone has to start somewhere, and we make that as easy as possible. Whether you’re landing your first speaking gig or your 100th, SpeakerFlow is here to help every step of the way. 

TED and TEDx Talks

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Last but not least, TED and TEDx Talks are the perfect examples of the power of influencer content. Having other experts on your side positions you as more trustworthy, and it boosts your own thought leader status. TED and TEDx partner with the world’s greatest speakers, thinkers, and innovators to deliver inspirational, actionable talks about anything and everything. 

You’re only one person. You don’t have to do it all. By collaborating with others in your space, you take your own efforts further. Better yet, these connections are an essential part of becoming a thought leader. Without a trusted network, you don’t have a strong foundation. There’s a lot you can learn from the TED and TEDx Talks content system, but the most important lesson has to do with togetherness. 

Take Your Content Further

Ultimately, your content needs to be an extension of your brand. If you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader, that means you also need to lead with your content. These 20 thought leadership examples above span industries and expertise, but they all serve the same purpose. All of these thought leadership examples highlight the values, goals, and know-how of the brands they represent. 

Whether promoting a book, TV network, or blog, these examples understand how to provide real-world value to their customers. While anyone can get their start as a thought leader, it takes dedication and leadership to stand out. Most importantly, don’t feel like you have to do everything alone. There is a wide world of tools, resources, and expertise to help you achieve your goals. If you have the right leadership foundation, you become unstoppable.

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