Branded content, as the name suggests, is content (such as videos and social media) that allows consumers to make lasting connections with the brand. Branded content focuses on the brand itself, rather than products or services, and its purpose is to stand out among the competition. The most effective branded content appeals to the general public’s emotions and uses storytelling – especially the brand’s story – as its main vehicle. Branded content is meant to be presented across all platforms, from long-form videos on YouTube to GIFs on micro-blogging sites like Twitter.
At its core, branded content is what keeps a company relevant and engaged beyond the products or services they offer. As a result, the consumer’s ability to connect with the brand fosters loyalty and promotes effective word of mouth. Additionally, branded content is unique from content marketing. Content marketing encompasses every piece of media a brand puts out, whereas branded content has a specific focus, such as a social cause or the brand’s persona. Branded content also differs from product placement in that product placement is an explicit form of advertising and doesn’t require the use of narrative.
Powerful branded content manifests when creative thinkers within the company cultivate an experience that they want their target market to identify with. For example, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign has less to do with soap and everything to do with women’s empowerment and the celebration of diverse female bodies. Dove knows that its target market is adult women, so it makes sense they would nurture a narrative where women are reminded of their natural beauty and strength while using Dove’s products. According to IPG Media Lab, people are 59 percent more likely to search out a brand after viewing its content. Additionally, branded content boosts the company’s favorability and makes traditional advertisements more memorable in the minds of consumers.
Marketers often tell the stories they do because it means something personal. For example, in the face of the #MeToo movement, Gillette, a men’s razor brand, decided to tackle the idea of toxic masculinity and its effects. Presented by the company as a short film, rather than an ad, We Believe: The Best Men Can Be encourages men and boys to reject violence and patriarchal archetypes.
Simply put, branded content is yet another creative tool in the marketer’s arsenal to boost a company’s image in a meaningful way. It is a way for creators to engage with their target audience on a more personal level, rather than just pushing product. Finally, branded content highlights the importance of artistry and storytelling in the marketing world.