What is branded content? Definition, advantages and examples.
Branded content is an effective response to an increasingly saturated market. Today, users are flooded with ads and information all the time, to the point that many of them resort to solutions such as ad blockers to get rid of the avalanche.
Faced with this situation, brands need to find new ways to connect with their audience, impact them with their creativity and transmit the values that represent them. And branded content is a great solution to all these. So in this guide we’re going to look at what exactly branded content is, what advantages it has for brands and some of the best examples in the history of advertising. Here we go!
What is branded content?
Branded content is a marketing technique that consists of creating content linked to a brand that allows that brand to be connected to the consumer.
To further refine this definition, let’s see what the main characteristics of branded content are:
- It is focused on the brand’s values, not on its products or services. Although it can take the format of a classic video spot, its essence has nothing to do with it, since it is based more on the intangible qualities of the brand than on the specific characteristics of its offer.
- It seeks to generate conversation and notoriety around the brand. More than seeking direct sales or conversion, these contents try to impact the audience and make them talk about the brand. Therefore, the key metrics to measure the success of an action of this type usually focus on awareness and the number of mentions.
- It generates value for the user. Normally we conceive advertising as a price to be paid to consume the content that really interests us, but branded seeks to turn this reality around and create content that users really want to consume. Generally, this added value comes in the form of entertainment.
- It appeals to the emotions. The use of emotions to convince dates back to Aristotle’s time, and to this day it remains an effective resource. Brand content does not seek to show rational arguments about why a brand is better than the competition, but to connect with the audience on a more intimate level.
- It makes use of storytelling. In essence, this type of content seeks to tell a story representative of the brand to the viewer, with protagonists, beginning, middle and end.
- It can be presented in multiple formats and channels. Branded content is a very flexible concept, so it can be adapted to many different presentations: video content, podcasts, copys, interactive formats, video games, street actions, events… or even combine several of them to tell the story of the brand. In the same way, there are also many different resources to spread it, from applications to social networks to the brand’s website.
- The contents can 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 collaboration does not end there: it is also possible to use the users themselves to tell their stories about the brand and thus get involved with it while providing content.
What is not branded content?
The term “branded content” is relatively new, so there is still a lot of confusion around it and it is sometimes confused with other related techniques. Let’s see what the differences are with conventional advertising, content marketing and product placement.
Differences with conventional advertising
- It does not focus on products and services. Although branded products may appear in the branded content, they are not the main focus or spoken about directly. Instead, the content is focused on more abstract values and history.
- It is non-invasive. TV spots, or digital formats such as banners and pop-ups, are based on “catching” the user to give us their time and attention. On the other hand, branded content seeks to be consumed by the user on a voluntary basis.
Differences with content marketing
Content marketing is a broader concept. In a way, content marketing is the strategy that encompasses all types of content created by the brand, while branded content would be a specific type of content. Within a content marketing strategy there is room for many types of content that are not branded, for example, information guides, video tutorials or testimonials.
Differences with product placement
- The product placement is explicit. In a product placement action, the product always appears very clearly, while in branded content this is not a requirement.
- Product placement is passive. The product is limited to being present, but the control of what happens around it falls on the creators of the main content (e.g. a film or a series) and not on the brand.
- Product placement does not use storytelling. In product placement, the main story is not related to the product or the brand, while the brand content always refers to its values.
Advantages of branded content for brands
- It’s not invasive. Conventional digital advertising, with resources such as banners that make browsing difficult, is generating more and more rejection among users. On the other hand, branded content seeks to attract them naturally and make them want to approach our brand.
- It generates an emotional connection with the brand. The best branded content is capable of telling stories that excite the audience. This emotion will remain associated with our brand, making users remember it for a long time.
- It has great viral potential. Branded content is presented in formats that can be shared and that are very attractive to the audience, and is usually spread through social networks. Therefore, it has many points to make users share it and generate a “snowball” effect that can go far.
- Improves brand positioning. Instead of just repeating a slogan, this type of content tells a story that represents the values we want to associate with the brand. In this way, the positive associations and the characteristics of the brand we want them to remember are registered in the minds of the users.
- It generates engagement and loyalty. Brand content not only seeks to be consumed passively, as in the case of traditional advertising, but also wants to provoke responses from users. Thus, the audience gets involved with the brand at a much deeper level and eventually comes to integrate it as part of their consumer identity.
- It can help foster registrations and leads. Although it is more associated with awareness and image metrics, a good brand content campaign can also serve to bring a large amount of traffic to your website and start introducing users to the conversion funnel.
7 great examples of branded content from all times
Yes, as you hear it. The most famous cartoon sailor of all time is actually a creation of the U.S. Chamber of Spinach Producers.
This institution sought to encourage the consumption of spinach among children during the 1930s. Taking advantage of the high iron content of spinach, they decided to create a character that would use spinach to obtain super strength and defeat their enemies. The rest is history.
This energy drink brand is surely the most successful example of branded content today. Today, most of its marketing is focused on creating stories that promote brand values, such as sport and love of risk.
Without a doubt, the most famous example of Red Bull’s promoted action is Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the stratosphere at 38,969 meters. The brand provided all the technical means to carry out the feat, which was a world record and managed to keep half the planet waiting for days.
According to some estimates, the profits obtained from advertising related to the jump tripled the investment, without taking into account the long-term positive impact on the brand. However, we cannot forget that the action had a very high risk of something going wrong during the jump, which is why some brands refused to participate.
This American lingerie brand is a great example of using events to generate branded content.
Each year, the Victoria Secret’s famous angel parade generates buzz and grabs headlines. It has become a popular culture phenomenon in the U.S., and there is talk for months about who will be the models chosen, who will perform at the gala, and the details of the garments. Thanks to it, they have managed to achieve great brand awareness and become unmistakable.
Water for Africa
And finally, a simple but very impressive action by the NGO Water for Africa: “The Marathon Walker”.
Every day, millions of African women have to travel distances similar to a marathon (42 kilometres) to bring clean water to their families. To draw attention to this fact, in 2015 one of these women, Siabatou Sanneh, participated in the Paris Marathon by running the entire course in traditional dress with a water bottle on her head. A very effective campaign to attract attention and raise awareness.