Branded content is a term commonly used in marketing but is sometimes difficult to define. So we will see what this phrase covers and provide guidance to better define an effective branded content strategy while evoking the latest trends in the field.
What is Branded Content?
This concept brings together all the content that has been produced by a brand, directly and even indirectly. It can be closely related to content marketing but should not be confused with it. Indeed, branded content focuses on the brand, while content marketing focuses on the customer or prospect. Also, branded content is not only limited to web content or marketing but also encompasses all editorial content, even on paper. It can take the form of many types of content: brochure, book, video, blog, website, exhibitions etc.
The goal of branded content is above all to communicate in a different way, to stand out and ultimately attract customers. This responds to the excessive advertising that can be encountered especially with the display technique and which is proving less and less effective. Branded content is indeed a support to marketing and more particularly, as we have seen recently, impacts Native Advertising. The goal of branded content is to reach consumers without necessarily using an intrusive advertisement where only the product is highlighted. Instead, it works by activating different levers such as brand culture, values or, in particular, emotions. The product must be somewhat in the background and then the brand is transformed into media.
Therefore, this technique is also effective in terms of valorization, identity and orientation of the brand image. Having being used for a long used time by big companies and especially the luxury industry, brand content is now also, with the Internet and social networks, an asset for small businesses and start-ups. But to achieve these goals, we need to focus and create relevant, quality content. This is indeed the basis of branded content and remains the best way to attract the attention of a lead or customer.
The techniques of a Branded Content Strategy
The oldest example of branded content still known is undoubtedly Michelin with its famous gourmet guide known as the Red Guide. More recently, we can mention Red Bull, the Austrian company has concentrated on the value of surpassing oneself, creating many events on this theme and sponsoring sports and tournaments. In the same sector, the Oasis drink decided to move into the field of entertainment by creating mascots and excellent storytelling which is intended to be entertaining and fun. Storytelling is certainly the best technique for achieving effective branded Content.
As always, you must first define your objectives (enhance your image or change it, improve the traffic on the site, the reputation etc.) and then your target by defining a persona. This helps to determine what type of content you should use (videos, photos, articles on the internet or a book, podcast, exhibition etc.) and which channel to use (television, social media, print media, blogs, etc.). An effective branded content strategy uses several formats and mixes distribution channels to make the most of the public space, especially on the Internet (creation of a blog, website, social network accounts, influencers and brand ambassadors etc.) .
It’s necessary to anchor the brand in a cultural universe and to create content in line with the company’s mission. The content should not be purely commercial. On the contrary, it must be fun, editorial, informative, entertaining and even artistic, as long as it helps to reinforce the identity of the brand, to promote values and especially to create emotions. Finally, a long-term vision brings coherence and pays off over time rather than a once-off showy promotion that may have a limited impact, especially for the image.
A strong trend with companies is a focus on brand ethics. Being committed and promoting values is increasingly appreciated by the public and consumers. This can be sustainable development (a responsible brand, protection of animals), or social commitment (parity, the LGBT cause for example). It’s up to you to put forward strong values according to your sector and your audience and to communicate on your commitment.
To implement branded content, don’t hesitate to use external resources such as writers and content producers (journalists and bloggers for example). They can bring expertise and an innovative and interesting mindset, different to a marketing or advertising expert.