What Branded Content Marketing Is And How It Works
The ultimate goal of any form of marketing is to grab the audience’s attention and keep it as long as possible. Within that goal are several sub-goals such as selling a specific product or creating brand awareness. Traditional marketing promotes specific products using TV commercials, website banner ads, billboards, product placement and more. Growing brand awareness and communicating a brand story requires different, more subtle marketing techniques. That’s where content marketing comes in.
Content marketing is a broad term that covers many aspects of a marketing strategy, but put simply, it’s marketing through the use of content created by the brand. This could be in a podcast, YouTube videos, social media posts, video games, TV shows, movies, books… the list goes on. There are countless formats that can be used by a brand to produce its own content. This is, by design, significantly different from traditional advertising. Not to say that content marketing is a new idea. From the time radio, movies, and television were invented, savvy marketers have been trying to figure out ways to reach audiences in a way that doesn’t feel like advertising.
Every modern generation has grown up interacting with some form of content marketing, from toy promoting TV shows of the ’80s like He-Man and My Little Pony, to in-flight magazines, decoder rings in cereal boxes, AAA travel guides, or even, as Sears-Roebuck and Company did in 1924, whole radio stations.
The goal of content marketing is to provide engaging and informative content to a targeted audience. Content marketing can focus on any stage of the customer journey. Content can raise awareness about a brand or a line of products, or it can provide detailed information about specific products and services, or it can offer advice on how to make the best use of items already purchased.
What is Branded Content?
Branded content is a specific type of content marketing designed to create an emotional connection between the intended audience and the brand. Branded content, generally, does not promote specific products or services, but tells the story of the mission, purpose, and values of a particular brand. A branded content campaign can create lasting brand loyalty and goodwill, and can be an important part of your digital marketing strategy.
A word of warning, product placement is content marketing, but it is not branded content. Remember, branded content tells the story of why a brand matters, it does not exist to promote specific products. Branded content creates that warm, happy, fuzzy feeling at the end of a Hallmark movie. Product placement creates that interest in learning more about James Bond’s newest car. Will Ferrell drinking a two liter of Coca-Cola in Elf is product placement. Felix Baumgartner’s 2012 record breaking Red Bull sponsored skydive is an example of branded content.
Successful Examples of Branded Content
The best branded content example out there is probably the LEGO Movie. Released in 2014, the LEGO company showed how high-quality branded content can reach a target audience on ad-free platforms like Netflix and in a way ad blockers can’t stop. The LEGO Movie was a success as a movie first. Audiences loved it, critics loved it, and kids loved it. It not only increased LEGO brand awareness, but it showcased the brand values LEGO wanted consumers to associate with them and their products: imagination, creativity, and fun!
Other examples of successful branded content include the Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, a now infamous series of short videos, dubbed the Real Beauty Sketches, the Guinness Book of World Records, and the Michelin Guide. These examples were able to communicate brand story successfully because they represent high-quality content pieces which, on their own merit, have value to an audience beyond the products or services offered by the sponsoring company.
Ways to Implement Branded Content into Your Marketing Strategy
Content creation for your content marketing campaign doesn’t necessarily have to be in-house. In fact, a popular content creation strategy is to use collaborations with influencers on various social media platforms to reach audiences quickly by tapping into that influencer’s existing social networks. These paid partnerships share many of the benefits of, and can help generate, word-of-mouth marketing. Collaborations can have benefits beyond the paid term of the marketing engagement. By levegering hashtags created during the campaign, savvy marketers can use the momentum of a collaboration to establish an even larger audience on social media apps like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.
You could also consider teaming up with another brand complementary to yours to create content together, effectively cutting the amount of work in half. If you were a wedding cake bakery, for example, you could partner with a florist and an event planner to produce a series of informational videos, podcasts, or even a fair or convention for brides-to-be. By serving target audiences in a creative, fun, and informative way, it is possible to create fiercely loyal customers, even before they make their first purchase.
First Media as a Business Partner
While branded content can be a powerful way to promote your company’s brand awareness, it can be equally difficult to know where to start.
At First Media, we specialize in partnering with brands to help them communicate their brand story to the right audience. We design, execute & create custom social media content that drives awareness, intent, and action. Our data-driven strategy and in-house studios enable us to make original user-focused creative content that converts. If you would like to find out more about how working with our experienced team can bring new customers to your brand at an unprecedented scale, contact our team here.