What Is Branded Content and How to Get It Right

What Is Branded Content and How to Get It Right

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Branded content is an excellent approach to help your company stand out in a crowded market. Consumers today are bombarded with advertisements to the extent that many turn to ad blockers or avoid them altogether.

To overcome this, companies and marketers must seek new ways to reach their target audiences and create innovative strategies to attract their attention. Branded content can help!

This article will answer the question, “What is branded content?” We’ll look at how it works and the benefits you can expect when you use branded content campaigns as part of your content marketing strategy.

Table of Contents

Understanding Branded Content

In competitive markets where your marketing strategy determines your business’s success, companies must stay on top of their marketing efforts. However, in the age of technology, users are finding new ways to avoid anything that sounds like a sales pitch.

Traditional advertising just won’t cut it if your company is to stand out from the crowd. Enter branded content.

Creating Branded Content Focuses on the Brand and Not Product Placement

Branded content is a strong marketing tool that may elicit emotional responses from customers, develop brand trust, and enhance revenue. Rather than traditional advertising that focuses on product placement, branded content connects with people and highlights the brand values you want your consumers to know about.

It can be incredibly powerful if done correctly, but critics sometimes question whether brands just seem to care about the issues they address or whether they use them solely for their benefit.

How Branded Content Helps Brands Thrive

The goal of a branded content campaign is to increase user engagement through content, and it can take the form of podcasts, videos, articles, or live events. It is more concerned with the brand’s quality than the product itself, encouraging the target audience to trust it.

Typically, it tells a tale, elicits an emotional reaction, is interesting, or conveys a social message. Branded content is more concerned with generating a discussion about the brand rather than improving sales.

It’s not a sales pitch, and it’s not intrusive advertising that interrupts a user’s social media browsing. Since this type of content looks more consumer-focused, it aims to elicit trust between the brand and the consumer, making it a highly effective marketing strategy.

In the section below, we’ll discuss what branded content marketing does and break it down further.

The Anatomy of an Effective Branded Content Campaign

To fully understand the concept of branded content, you’ll need to know what it does, how it works, and what makes it so effective.

1. Emotive Storytelling

Instead of telling you that a brand is better than its competitors, branded content campaigns aim to connect with the audience and display its values through dynamic storytelling. This type of content invokes an emotional response that encourages the consumer to connect with it. It builds awareness and trust, which leads us to the next point.

2. A Branded Content Campaign Builds Trust

Connecting with consumers on a human level is one way to gain the trust of your target audience.

The best way to do this is to showcase real people interacting with the brand. 89 percent of young people say they trust real-life testimonials from people they can identify with more than brand advertisements.

Whenever a brand user adds their honest opinion, it is more likely that the consumer will trust it, especially if a large number of professionals seem to be supporting the brand, too. 

Moreover, the fact that you’re not pushing a customer to buy a product, but are rather telling a compelling story, is more likely to encourage him or her to trust you.

3. A Branded Content Post Can Be Created Using Several Mediums

The truth is that your target market will have different preferences, so for your branded content campaign to be successful, you will need to reach each customer effectively. In order to do this, it is essential to use different mediums.

Are you expecting gamers to form a part of your target market? Why not include video games or virtual reality? Podcasts may be more effective for people who prefer tuning in to the radio rather than watching a video.

4. It Includes Live Events

Branded marketing for live events may help any organization succeed, regardless of its size or status. Interviews, videos, presentations, and any other material acquired from live events could be used as branded content on your company’s website. This serves as marketing for you, but it also has the potential to increase the number of people who join your next event.

5. Branded Content Makes a Bold Social Statement

We can define branded content as any content that makes a social statement. Many brands have successfully connected with people’s values and basic needs using this type of marketing. Unfortunately, this is where branded content is also criticized. Is it merely pretending to care to boost its revenue?

While insincerity is a genuine possibility, most brands attempt to make statements about issues they are truly passionate about.

When the material is conveyed in the form of a video, it has a more significant impact since it enables a more obvious diversity and tolerance, which has never been seen before in conventional marketing.

It also helps that 61 percent of millennials believe they have a personal responsibility to improve the world, making them far more likely to spend their money on a company that supports their values.

6. This Type of Content Marketing Promotes the Brand and Not a Product

When a business interacts with consumers on a personal and emotional level, it typically elicits a positive response and encourages them to talk about it. That’s why the number of mentions a company gets both online and offline is the most crucial statistic for measuring the success of its content marketing strategy.

7. It Adds Value

Traditional marketing principles are turned on their heads with branded content, which only uses material that can provide immediate engagement and benefits to users. It may be a personal narrative, a topic that interests them, or sheer amusement. 

This makes the content marketing strategy so effective – it engages directly with consumers by offering them value.

8. Co-created Content

To create exceptional, high-quality branded content, companies frequently engage with the top film filmmakers, cinematographers, and experts. However, one popular method is to create content that appears to come from users. 

User-generated content (UGC) is a popular and successful marketing tactic. We are more likely to trust what other people just like us have to say about a company than the business itself.

Companies are now encouraging customers to share their experiences with the brand’s goods or services, giving it a more personal aspect that others can relate to.

The Advantages of Adopting Branded Content Campaigns

There are several reasons to create branded content as part of your marketing strategy. Here are some of the advantages of using branded content:

It Establishes Trust

Content that engages with the audience and tells an engaging story has the potential to establish a relationship of trust with consumers.

Branded Content Can Go Viral

Rather than just advertising a product, by telling stories, your content can go viral, which means that it can reach a wider audience without much effort.

This Type of Content Marketing Can Generate Leads and Boost Sales

Since branded content focuses on building connections with the brand, people are more likely to buy the brand’s products, boosting leads and sales.

It Promotes Loyalty

Unlike traditional advertising, branded content involves a connection at a deeper level, which makes consumers more likely to be loyal to your brand.

When You Create Branded Content, You Improve Brand Awareness

Rather than just skipping annoying social media ads, your audience will actually view your content, improving brand awareness and spreading the word about your business.

Branded Content Posts Aren’t Invasive

One of the main reasons many consumers ignore ads is that it invades their privacy and recreational time. On the other hand, by creating compelling branded content, you encourage users to engage with the content on their own without being forced.

Examples of Successful Branded Content Campaigns

Content that addresses all of the elements we have mentioned already is the most effective. It must convey an emotive, meaningful story with a lasting effect.

The following are some of the greatest examples of branded content that have produced results in recent years.  

As you will see, the content’s format varies, but its effect on the user appears to be quite consistent.

1. Compelling Storytelling: The New York Times

The New York Times was one of the first brands to adopt a branded content strategy in November 2015. It constructed a virtual reality software for customers, allowing them access to The Displaced, an extraordinarily cinematic VR tale.

The frightening narrative about refugees was a true work of art and social commentary, highlighting the suffering of millions of families and children across war-torn nations.

2. Live Event Branded Content: Victoria’s Secret Fashion

Branded content that is emotive isn’t always effective. Victoria’s Secret, the world-famous American lingerie firm, has a never-ending branded multimedia campaign. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a celebration of the brand’s ensembles.

It is a much-anticipated annual event that features extravagant clothing that isn’t exactly product advertising.

The show has become such a pop-cultural phenomenon that it’s a lot more than just traditional marketing, making it one of the finest examples of live event branded content.

3. Social Statement: Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign

In 2004, Dove launched the Real Beauty campaign. After the brand discovered some alarming statistics suggesting that only four percent of women consider themselves “beautiful,” the campaign revolved around the premise that beauty was for everyone. 

Because the brand wanted to change this dismal statistic and create a change in how women saw themselves, it was able to turn it into a very profitable campaign. In just three years, Dove’s sales climbed from 2.5 billion to 4 billion!

Perhaps one of the most successful videos that Dove released was one entitled: “You’re More Beautiful Than You Think,” released in 2013.

In the video, a sketch artist drew women’s faces first based on how they described themselves and second according to how someone else described them.

The women found that the picture that the artist had drawn based on their descriptions was sad and unrealistic, whereas the sketches made according to someone else’s explanation were a lot more realistic and attractive.

This video made a powerful statement about beauty and how women see themselves, and it quickly went viral, with over 180 million views to date. By using emotive language to make a statement, the brand was able to reach millions of people, making it the perfect example of how effective branded content can be.

4. Benefiting from Co-creating: Marvel/Luft/Hulu

Another branded content project is the result of a collaboration between multiple unrelated businesses.

The Marvel Runaway Series was created through a collaboration between Lyft, Marvel, and Hulu. This may appear to be an unusual alliance, but the market occasionally requires more than a one-time collaboration.

All three contributed to creating interesting, entertaining material while also raising their respective profits.

5. Reality Show: Apple TV+

You may have witnessed Apple’s smart unveiling of the Apple TV+ in 2019. The brand generated its own content rather than releasing another press-heavy campaign.

Apple launched The Morning Show, a high-quality talk show on its TV service, to commemorate the release of the Apple TV+. Sure, the show included a few references to Apple products, but the broadcast was so high-quality that The Morning Show won Emmy Awards!

As word spread about the show, Apple’s customer base grew as a result of word-of-mouth promotion.

6. Reaching the Audience Through Personalization: The Coca-Cola Share a Coke Campaign

Have you ever come across your name written on a Coca-Cola can or bottle? The company’s  Share A Coke campaign, which featured some of the most well-known names printed onto Coca-Cola products, was a worldwide sensation.

It capitalized on branded content’s natural tendency to go viral. After all, seeing your name plastered on the side of a soda bottle is pretty cool.

This is a testament to the fact that people will share your branded content if you make it shareable!

Getting Started with Branded Content for Your Business

Starting a branded content campaign may seem daunting. However, you should never forget that you can always turn to professionals for help with developing and executing a flawless branded content campaign.

If you’re ready to put your brand values out there for consumers to see, here are a few tips.

Set Goals

Before you can get started, the most important thing to do is sit down and make a list of goals. What do you hope to achieve with your branded content? Is there a problem your brand is trying to solve? What message do you hope to convey?

In addition to the goals of the content, ensure that you’re setting ROI goals because the ultimate objective of any marketing strategy is to drive sales.

Do Your Research

To cater to your target market, you will have to get to know them. Go on social media platforms and observe the kind of content they are sharing. Are they following TikTok challenges? Maybe you could engage with them by creating a TikTok challenge of your own!

You’ll also want to see what your competitors are doing when conducting research. Moreover, you don’t want your content to look too similar to theirs.

Brainstorm

Before you develop a concept further, explore all of the possibilities. You may have a great idea, but someone else may have an even better one that could be more relatable to your target market.

Make a list of all the possible campaign concepts and titles, and once you have found an idea that is likely to be successful, you can move to the development stage.

Develop the Branded Content, But Do It Right!

Every campaign is unique, and you’ll almost certainly be collaborating with a number of other people to complete it.

However, everybody in the room should ask what narrative they would like to tell, who their customers are, what values they would like to highlight, and why this matters.

This process will take some time and is highly customized to the campaign. With those details in mind, you can develop engaging content that will build trust between you and your target market.

Remember that you will need to change the way you present your brand. Don’t use language that you would in a sales pitch, such as a call-to-action. It’s all about engaging on a human level. Therefore, you should speak like a human rather than a corporate entity trying to make a profit.

Moreover, your branded content initiatives will be unforgettable if it is valuable and interesting to your consumers. Through shared beliefs and interests, you create relationships with your viewers.

The most effective branded content consistently delivers stories that thrill the target demographic and allow users to connect that sentiment to the brand.

Final Thoughts

Branded content is one of the most effective ways to get people to talk about your brand and display the brand’s values.

The truth is that consumers are growing tired of hearing sales pitches, and seeing product placement and rigorous advertising campaigns is becoming repetitive and mundane. As a result, many have begun to use ad blockers to keep these intrusive ads out.

This means that companies need to change the way they advertise. By engaging with your audience on a more personal level through well-thought-out branded content, you can change the way they see your brand and, ultimately, how they view your products.

Frequently Asked Questions

In the section below, we answer commonly asked questions about branded content.

1. How Does Branded Content Compare to Traditional Advertising?

Many people mistake branded content with traditional marketing strategies. However, two things set it apart from other forms of advertising.

Firstly, branded content has more to do with promoting the brand than it does with promoting a product. This means that it isn’t as sales-focused as traditional methods – consumers don’t focus on the product you’re selling but rather on the message you’re trying to convey.

Secondly, branded content isn’t invasive. You aren’t forcing your target market to engage with the content – consumers are doing it because they want to. It isn’t pushy and doesn’t try to engage your senses or intrude on your browsing.

2. What Is the Difference Between Branded Content and Content Marketing?

All the content (blog posts, videos, podcasts, webpage copy, etc.) that a brand employs to market itself forms part of content marketing. Branded content is simply a part or subcategory of content marketing.

3. Where Can I Share Branded Content?

This type of content can be shared on any social media platform. The most effective platforms for sharing branded content are Facebook and Instagram.

If you’re sharing video content, you can also include it as part of your banner ads on your website.

It can also be shared through television commercials, a YouTube channel, and more!

4. What Is the Difference Between Product Placement and Branded Content?

Product placement is usually obvious, so you know when you’re seeing it. This form of marketing involves promoting a product by paying for them on television shows or movies. It has more to do with the product and less to do with the brand.  

On the other hand, branded content is much more discreet, and the actual product or service on offer is rarely visible.

When a company agrees to a product placement contract in a film, its involvement usually ends there. It will have no control over where or how the item is displayed, whereas, with branded content, the company gets to decide how it, and ultimately the product, is perceived.

Furthermore, because product placement is not a marketing tactic, companies don’t bother creating a narrative around the product. 

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