By Laia Cardona, on 27 January 2022
Branded content is a great way to help your brand stick out in an overly saturated market. Today, users are overwhelmed with ads to the point where many of them resort to ad blockers and develop ad blindness.
To combat this, brands need to look for new ways of advertising to their audience and find creative ways to capture users' attention. Branded content is a great solution for this!
- Branded Content on Instagram
What Is Branded Content?
Branded content is a marketing technique that involves creating content that is directly linked to a brand.
To further define branded content, let's take a look at some of its main characteristics:
- It is focused on the values of the brand, not on its products or its services: Although it can adopt the format of a classic video spot, it is based more on the intangible qualities of the brand than on the specific products it offers.
- It seeks to generate conversation and notoriety around the brand: More than looking for a direct sale or conversion, this type of content tries to impact the audience and spark conversation around the brand. Therefore, the key metrics to measure the success of branded content tend to focus on the notoriety and the number of mentions.
- Generates added value for the user: Normally we think of advertising as a price to pay to consume the content that really interests us, but branded content seeks to turn this idea around and create content that users actually want to consume. Generally, this added value comes in the form of entertainment.
- Appeals to emotions: Using emotions for the purpose of persuasion goes back to the times of Aristotle but it's still an effective technique today. Branded content does not seek to use rational arguments about why a brand is better than the competition, but instead to connect with the audience on a more intimate level.
- It uses storytelling: In essence, this type of content seeks to tell a story about the brand to the viewer, with protagonists, as well as a beginning, middle, and end.
- It can be presented through multiple formats and channels: Branded content is a very flexible concept, so it can be adapted for many different formats like video, podcasts, interactive formats, video games, events, or even combine several of them to tell the history of the brand. Similarly, there are many different ways to spread this content, from apps to social networks to the brand's website.
- The content may be co-created: It is very common for brands to collaborate with film directors or other renowned professionals to create their most outstanding content. But the collaborations don't end there. User-generated content is also a popular resource, allowing users themselves to tell their stories about the brand and thus get involved while providing content.
What Is Not Branded Content?
Since the term is relatively new, there is still some confusion around it. Let's look at the differences between branded content, conventional advertising, content marketing, and product placement.
Branded Content vs. Conventional Advertising
- Branded content does not focus on products and services: Although products can appear in the content, they are not the main focus nor are they directly talked about. Instead, there is a greater focus on more abstract values and the brand story.
- Branded content is not invasive: TV spots or digital formats such as banners and pop-ups are based on grabbing the user's time and attention. On the other hand, the user consumes branded content voluntarily.
Branded Content vs. Content Marketing
- Content marketing is a broader strategy: It encompasses all types of content created by the brand, while branded content would be a specific type of content within the overall strategy.
- Content marketing can also include unbranded content: Within a content marketing strategy, there is room for content that isn't branded, for example, informative guides, video tutorials, and testimonials.
Branded Content vs. Product Placement
- Product placement is explicit: In product placement, the product always appears very clearly, while in branded content this is not an essential requirement.
- Product placement is passive: While the brand has the confirmation that their product will be present, the control over what goes on around the product placement, i.e. the context of the placement is mostly decided by the creators of the main content (for example, a movie or series) and not by the brand itself.
- Product placement does not use storytelling: In product placement, the main story is not related to the product or the brand, while branded content on the other hand is always related to the brand's corporate values.
Advantages of Branded Content
- It is not invasive: Conventional digital advertising, including banners that hinder navigation, generates more disapproval among users. Instead, branded content seeks to attract them naturally and make them want to get involved.
- It generates an emotional connection. The best branded content is capable of telling stories that excite the audience. This emotion gets associated with the brand, making users remember it for a long time.
- It has the potential to go viral. Branded content is presented in sharable formats that often generate a "snowball" effect that can go a long way.
- It improves the positioning of the brand. Instead of just repeating a slogan, this type of content tells a story that represents the values we want to associate with the brand. The positive associations and the characteristics associated with a brand register in the minds of the audience.
- It generates engagement and loyalty. Branded content seeks to provoke a response from users. This way, the audience engages with the brand at a much deeper level and eventually integrates it as part of their customer identity.
- It can help to promote traffic and leads. Although it is associated more with notoriety and metrics, a good branded content campaign can also bring a large amount of traffic to a website and start introducing users into the conversion funnel.
Branded Content on Instagram
On Instagram, branded content is defined as “a creator or publisher’s content that features or is influenced by a business partner for an exchange of value."
In essence, if a brand partners with a creator or influencer to post content, the person posting the content must disclose it as a "paid partnership".
5 Examples of Branded Content
These five examples of branded content are some of our favorites. They show that branded content can take totally different forms and tactics.
1. The Morning Show
One of Apple TV+'s best examples of branded content done right is The Morning Show.
Not only does the show feature A-list acting talent and a relevant, timely, and engaging premise, it also features a wide range of Apple products throughout the series. This show was created by Apple for Apple and features their products in a way that highlights their diversity and integration into everyday life.
GQ partnered with Goldman Sachs to create a series on their YouTube channel called My First Million. In the videos, young athletes talk about how they spent their first big paycheck. They not only discuss things like luxury cars and fashion but also important financial decisions they have made.
This series is one of the most-watched on GQ's channel because it combines entertaining content with financial literacy. Several athletes talk about investing in property, paying off debts, and helping their families financially.
3. Red Bull
Red Bull is one of the most successful examples of branded content. Most of their marketing is focused on creating stories that promote its brand values, such as athleticism and taking risks.
The most famous example of Red Bull's branded content is the jump of Felix Baumgartner from the stratosphere, at 38,969 meters high. The brand put together technical means to carry out the feat and managed to have half a planet talking about it for days.
The returns from the advertising tripled the investments. The event was also very memorable and had a positive long-term impact on the brand.
The most famous brand in the world no longer needs to communicate the fact that they manufacture soda. Instead, they now focus on communicating a universally popular value: happiness.
One of the best examples of how Coca-Cola uses branded content is the ability to customize Coke cans with names.
5. Victoria's Secret
This American lingerie brand is a great example of how to use events to generate branded content.
Every year, thousands of people anticipate watching the Victoria's Secret fashion show. It has become a phenomenon of pop culture in the United States and it garners an immense about of media attention as people talk about who the models will be and what the garments will look like. Because of this, the brand has have achieved great notoriety.