Branded Content – What It Is and How to Get it Right?
Branded content is one of the few ways to build trust with the audience to stay afloat and succeed in today's crowded market. Let's dive into its essentials.
Written by RamotionMar 1, 202314 min read
Last updated: Sep 26, 2023
Ads surround us everywhere: wherever we go, wherever we look, we can see buy this, click this, and subscribe now. According to some studies, the average person encounters around 6,000 ads daily. Indeed, digital marketing has grown exponentially, exposing people to thousands of online advertisements daily.
Therefore, it is not hard to believe that audience attention span is decreasing because the human brain cannot cope with such a massive information overload. Users are constantly seduced or, more precisely, pushed to the decision by other brands. What to do to stay afloat and not lose your customers? Branding designers have a solution for that - create branded content. What does branded content mean? And most importantly, how branded content can help?
It is a relatively new concept, yet it has already proved its validity. Based on a traditional medium but spiced up with modern marketing features, it gives companies a survival chance to be noticed in the sea of advertisements these days. It is a complex term, but if you put it simply, it is a story about the company that naturally grabs attention and reveals the brand's value avoiding looking pitchy or promotional. Although it is still a paid tactic, it no longer has a salesy appearance. It connects with users on a more personal level prioritizing honesty and authenticity. Let's dive into it a bit deeper.
Branded Content and Its Importance
What is Branded Content?
Branded content is a brand’s story that increases overall company awareness and establishes an emotional connection with new customers.
Unlike native advertising or influencer marketing, it can deliver deeply immersive stories centered around the brand. Its goals are to educate, inform and entertain. It can be presented in different forms:
- a classic video spot,
- a podcast,
- a print piece,
- a blog post,
- an infographic,
- an ebook,
- any interactive format,
- a video game,
- an event,
- a contest,
- a giveaway,
- or even an entire website.
Branded content campaigns can be delivered through different channels: apps, multiple social networks, landing pages, and traditional billboards. However, whatever form or shape it takes, whatever channel it uses to spread the message, it should have these characteristics:
- It is centered around the intangible qualities of the brand, not the product.
- It focuses on brand values and brand image.
- It prioritizes content that users want to consume.
- It uncovers mutual interests and shared values.
- It has an added value for customers, usually in an entertainment form. Though, any form is welcome as long as customers get something out of this content.
- It connects with the audience on an emotional and personal level.
- It impacts the audience and sparks conversation around the brand.
Importance of Branded Content
Branded content has an immense significance that is hard to estimate. According to recent studies, it may increase product consideration and sales by 30%. Though, there is more. It is a strong player that can do a range of tasks:
- It attracts customers and makes them want to get involved.
- It earns a strong reputation without any tension that usually comes from traditional forms of advertising.
- It creates an emotional connection that is the foundation of healthy customer relationships.
- It represents the values and helps positive associations with the brand register in consumers' minds.
- It encourages topical conversations and produces more emotionally rich experiences that are hard to miss and forget.
- It is more likely to be viewed as worthy of the consumer's trust.
- It can expand a marketer's reach, grab audience attention and capture new interest.
- It generates traffic.
- It can produce a "snowball" effect that will give any small company a solid chance to be noticed by a vast market without colossal investments and efforts.
- It encourages users to tell their stories about using the brand's products, starting word of mouth, generating favorable feedback, increasing trust in the company, and strengthening its reputation.
Last but not least, brands come and go, but their stories stay with us; therefore, branded content goes a long way.
Benefits for Brands to Adopt Branded Content
Cutting through the noise and reaching the target market creatively and personally are not the only benefits branded content offers businesses. Let's consider its main advantages:
- It highlights the brand's values. The better brand is perceived by the customers, the more chance it will have to sell any product it has.
- It creates security in the company's and customers' relationship - a solid ground for any marketing efforts.
- It improves the company's position in the market.
- It drives engagement.
- It increases the trust and credibility of the company to build loyalty.
- It gets people talking about the brand.
- It boosts brand affinity and authority.
Consider the best branded content examples to see it in action:
Red Bull. This popular energy drinks provider excels at promoting its core brand values, such as athleticism and taking risks through telling stories. Thanks to clever branded content, it is synonymous with sports, music, and stunts. The company always puts its customers at the heart of its events, contests, and advertisements, leaving a lasting impact.
Apple is one of the best branded content examples in the tech niche. The company skillfully attaches its brand image to every product by reminding people of who they are through clever brand content campaigns. Whatever Apple products are, we all know they will be flawless.
Coca-Cola. The company is a great example of generating branded content aimed at meeting the current market's requirements and expectations. Just recall their Coca Cola Christmas commercial. Each generation remembers and associates this drink with something special, transmitting this emotional connection to their children.
Lego. The company provides us with another brilliant example. Do you know that Lego Movie, Lego Masters, and animated movies like Ninjago or Jurassic World are clever takes on branded content? Yes, they are that good. They are one of the best examples of using branded content to their benefit, avoiding any pressure or tension.
Branded content examples from various niches prove this concept works for everyone. Follow our small instruction that reveals the essentials of branded content strategy to get a solid foundation for adapting it for your company.
Branded Content Strategy
Do you know that consumers skip advertisements after just 2.5 seconds? Getting attention and leaving impressions are getting harder for brands every single day. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a strong branded content strategy.
The branded content strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve short- and long-term goals using branded content marketing. The overall strategy centers around connecting with the community, offering an entertaining and valuable experience, and delivering messages crucial for promoting the business and establishing strong, healthy consumer relationships. Although it always puts the target audience first; indeed, all its efforts are focused on improving the company's position in the market, even under conditions of uncertainty.
The essential elements of a successful branded content strategy are:
- Brand guidelines. The foundation of every strategy is brand identity, values, and mission.
- Goals and objectives. Although branded content is about connecting with customers personally and delivering value, it is still crucial to define relevant and tangible objectives, determine metrics, choose achievable results, and outline the time period.
- Well-defined target audience. Understanding who you serve helps create content that satisfies the addressable needs of the audience and entertains them leaving a positive, long-lasting impression. Creating relevant customer personas to uncover a unique insight about your target customer is highly recommended here.
- Market and competitors' analysis. It will fine-tune branded content with the most-burning needs of customers as well as help develop a marketing strategy that stands out from other brands.
- Right platform. There are numerous platforms to connect with the audience, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, to name a few. Each one has its own merits. For instance, YouTube is great for reaching a specific target audience and releasing mini-series or short movies co created with celebs that build connections in steps. In contrast, TV is great for full coverage and something short yet grandiose.
- The proper gamut of emotions. It is a cornerstone of a good branded content strategy. Your story should be centered around an important theme for the audience and generate a particular gamut of emotions to tag consumers' heartstrings, drive engagement, strengthen customer loyalty, and inspire them to continue doing business with you.
- Real stories and people. Featuring real people allows your audiences truly see themselves and understand how your company may help them.
Best Practices for Developing an Effective Branded Content Strategy
Creating branded content that moves your audience without sounding pushy requires specific skills and experience. It is not something that can be done quickly.
Therefore, adopting the best practices and following the advice shared by marketing professionals in the niche is vital. Here are the best tips to maintain your strategy sharp and introduce improvements to keep your audience at the heart of the strategy:
- Create content that delivers valuable information right away.
- Never press the customer with a sales pitch or information about your business.
- Do not tell, but create content that shows your values.
- Tell great stories. Reveal your personality but prioritize your consumer's needs. Show people what's great about who you are without shoving it in their faces.
- Create a compelling story that educates and entertains consumers, ignites interest, and stays in their heads as long as possible.
- Define branded content based on current or most burning customer needs.
- Relate to brand’s image.
- Focus on emotions and appeal to them to elicit the customer's response.
- Inspire your audience to get involved.
- Learn the digital habits of your target audience. Optimize the content for mobile and tablet experience.
- Show people to who your customers may relate.
- Be genuine, authentic, and honest.
- Make it a part of the overall marketing strategy.
- Make the content produced by marketers feel natural. If you consider product placement in the story, make it clever and unobtrusive.
- Weave together the facts and emotions that your brand evokes.
- Favor quality over quantity to create meaningful content.
- Maximize the visibility of your content by promoting it through other distribution channels. Use social media to intensify the overall impact and compel consumers to share and start conversations among friends and followers. Apart from social media platforms, you can do it through different channels. For instance, you may use email marketing or news portals like vox media. You may even ask your employees for posting pictures or sharing videos with their friends and peers.
- Get creative with your branded content. Reveal your charisma and personality and hint about your ambitions. This will drive engagement as well as set you apart from competitors.
- Pay close attention to trends and mainstreams to grab any opportunity to connect with the audience.
- Stay consistent with branded content campaigns.
- Track the effectiveness and measure the impact of branded content, identify issues, and fix them next time.
Branded Content vs. Content Marketing
Branded content is a relatively new term; everyone has a different take on what it is or should be. However, we can still clarify the distinction between branded content and content marketing that some people may use interchangeably. They are:
- Brand content focuses on entertainment-type content. As a rule, it is a partnership between the brand and the media to promote a company unobtrusively, show its personality, and reveal its valuable features that benefit the customers. It is not pushy at all. It is all about informing and entertaining consumers, much like in the case of creative video advertising. It speaks to the consumer's heart.
- Content marketing focuses on creating a message that shows how a brand can solve consumers' problems. It highlights the needs and pain points of the targeted audience and stresses how the product sorts these out. It gives answers to questions, speaking to the consumer's mind.
What is difference between branded content and content marketing?
The difference between these two concepts can also be seen in their goals.
- Branded content wants to attract audiences to a company through emotions. It is made to put the spotlight on the brand.
- Content marketing strategy wants to build trust through proposition value. It is made for the audience.
Let's consider some common use cases for each approach to add even more clarity.
- Branded content is usually presented as creative advertisements or unique sponsored events, like Dove Real Beauty Sketches, which have over 70 million views on YouTube, or Lego Movie, which both children and grownups watch.
- Content marketing is delivered as blog posts or social media posts filled with resources and advice to help customers solve their problems. It can also be podcasts, guides, and articles.
Both these approaches have their merits. For instance, content marketing helps the brand become a reliable information source. It attracts relevant clients and ups your chances of virality. Whereas branded content creates an emotional connection, establishes strong relationships with the clients, and strengthens its position in the market.
As for disadvantages and common pitfalls, both these approaches can be challenging. It is difficult to stray from other "traditional" forms of marketing when you realize one of them. Moreover, they can be expensive.
However, despite all cons, these two are crucial for business success. They are powerful when used separately. Think about what they can do when put together.
Why Do You Need to Ensure Branded Content Integrity?
Integrity is one of the most crucial people qualities. Staying true to who you are and what you believe in, even in the most drastic times, helps build trust. The same goes to branded content that personalizes the company. Subpar branded content may lead to drastic outcomes: it decreases the value of the data derived from the content, impacts sales, and decreases engagement. However, most importantly, it confuses consumers, which brings about poor brand reputation and mistrust.
It is imperative to maintain integrity and ensure high-quality branded content because when it is holistic, it does lots of good for the company:
- It nurtures customer loyalty.
- It shows support and understanding.
- It maintains the company's reputation.
- It expands the customer base.
- It strengthens product placement.
- It delivers on its promises turning customers into brand advocates.
- It causes user generated content.
- It protects the brand image.
- It separates the company from other brands.
The last several years have made people re-evaluate companies' role in our society. Consumers pay more attention to how brands conduct business, placing immense importance on their values. Therefore, being committed to specific values and sticking to and promoting them is crucial - integrity is a timeless quality.
Use these tips to ensure the integrity of branded content:
- Create standards and clear guidelines. Make them comprehensive, covering everything from color to employee training.
- Create content that aligns with your brand mission, vision, and values.
- Assemble a team that supports and advocates your brand.
- Put customers first. Create brand content that meets their current needs, standards, and expectations.
- Maintain an active presence on social media.
- Do not manipulate your customers. Stay honest to create branded content that resonates.
- Never make promises your business can't keep.
- Deliver on your promise no matter what.
- Establish a formal pricing policy.
- Create agreements with partners to ensure high-quality collaboration. Document the procedure you want to follow when a seller or partner violates your policy.
- Give a product a role in your branded story.
- Ensure consistency across your marketing efforts. Be the same company in the real and digital World. Make everything feel like the same entity to the consumer.
- Be transparent with the audience.
- Compensate for the inconvenience. Mistakes happen, but you can remedy their effect.
- Pay attention to how consumers interact with your brand. Collect feedback and listen to your customers in forums, blogs, review sites, and social media to analyze them to spot potential troubles or get hints on improving brand identity.
- Use professional instruments to monitor and analyze the brand's existence.
- Conduct brand audits regularly.
With an oversaturated market and an overwhelming number of ads in the real and digital World, it is no surprise that customers resort to ad blockers and develop ad blindness. Their attention span decreases exponentially, making it harder for brands to become favs. However, there is still a way to raise brand awareness, drive engagement, push the business forward, and reach top heights in the niche - creating branded content is one of them.
Standing in stark contrast to traditional marketing strategy, it makes businesses deliver value to the clients and create deep personal connections through storytelling experience. Some stories feature real people; others focus on the company's personality and mission. However, they always prioritize customers and never advertise products and services.
This kind of advertising is crucial because people get tired of being stalked by brands through various channels. They want to feel important to companies. Branded content meets these cravings. On top of that, it comes with other advantages as well. For instance, it builds strong relationships, increases conversions and revenue, strengthens reputation and gives the company an extra opportunity to extend its influence.
Branded content is not easy to create. It requires devotion, commitment, investments, and sometimes even leveraging professionals from the movie industry. Therefore, it is crucial to hit all the essentials, adopt the best practices, and follow the mainstream. This helps to reach customers, tap into their emotions, stay relevant to their needs, and live up to their expectations, becoming a reliable partner in their life.