WHAT IS BRANDED CONTENT?
Like so many things in marketing and advertising, Branded Content sounds vague but expensive. And it is and it can be, but what is it? Branded Content combines storytelling with advertising outside the bounds of a commercial or print ad. In other words, it's a mini-movie that features a brand, product, or service.
Now, this isn't too much of a stretch from what we're used to. In fact, branded content goes all the way back to print before radios. Then, radio programing came along and branded content was adapted into program sponsorships. In movies and television, we typically got treated to product placement (re: Wayne's World Epic Product Placement). As close as we ever got to Branded Content as we know it now were TV commercials. In a lot of ways, most commercials with a storyline are Branded Content.
But there is a new form of Branded Content that has emerged with the advent of online video. No better example exists than JCPenny's 'Dog House' short (from Agency Saatchi & Saatchi and Director Brian Buckley). At no point, does it feel like a traditional advertisement. Characters are actually developed. Ideas are communicated that take more than 30 seconds to get across.
Oh, yeah, and it's organic.
That's the most important element of any piece of Branded Content: it must look and feel organic. Yes, the brand will work it's way in the story at some point; it has to. However, you're going for so much more with the problem/solution paradigm of advertising and that's complete understanding; of you audience, your customers, and your brand.
We integrate brands organically into our lives every day-even minute by minute. They've become things we can't live without. Most people who start using an iPhone can never return to life without out. Branded Content draws on that necessity to form stories that integrates a customer's real life experiences with the brands they rely on.
That's what can make branded content effective. It shows the brand as part of your everyday life because it is part of your everyday life.
SO, WHAT SHOULD YOU TRY TO DO WITH YOUR OWN BRANDED CONTENT?
Look for ways your brand, service, or product integrates with people's lives and base your story around that. Try not to call attention to special features or benefits because in context, it's not the way we relate products to one another. If you must highlight those items, make sure they concrete benefits of use not fringe benefits Lastly, have fun! People will only spare you their time to watch your three minute branded short film because it looks fun and entertaining!
Here's another example of Branded Content: Friskies "Dear Kitten". Enjoy and think about how you can put Branded Content to work in your marketing strategy!