You are probably thinking, “Branded content sounds great and all, but how does it differ from content marketing?”
The truth is that the two concepts are often connected. Like content marketing, branded content can include everything from podcasts, to articles, video, and even in-person events. However, it’s not advertising in the way most people would think about it. It doesn’t include talking about product or drawing attention to a specific service.
Branded content is more of a customer-focused type of content marketing. It provides value to the customer, like traditional content marketing, but the focus is on making an emotional connection, not selling something. Branded content also pulls attention to the unique values and ideals of the company, to create an affinity with readers and viewers.
Rather than trying to convince customers to buy something, branded contents simultaneously educate customers, while providing an insight into the value of products.
Whether in video form, podcast, or written posts, the ROI of content marketing focuses on lead generation and sales. On the other hand, branded content is about demonstrating brand identity and boosting reputation. Here, the needs of the audience always come first.
Content marketing isn’t the only thing that branded content is often confused with.
If you’ve explored different external communication strategies before, you may have heard the term brand content alongside the phrase “native advertising.” Native advertising is paid content, often well-disguised as organic content. Content promoted in this way may appear to provide value, but the overall goal is to sell a product or service. Unlike display ads or banner ads, native ads don’t really look like ads.
Both native advertising and branded content seek to create an immersive experience for customers. The difference here is that while native advertising adopts a format to “fit in,” branded content is built to respond to the unique needs of an audience. Your brand content strategy will involve looking at your company’s story and thinking about how you can convey that narrative to your audience in a way that serves them.
Though native advertising and branded content both help to get a customer more invested in a brand, with native advertising you’re simply following the etiquette of a different platform or channel. With brand content, you’re implementing a consistent customer-first strategy.
What makes a branded content strategy so effective?
Though branded content strategies aren’t exactly a new concept, they’ve been getting a lot more attention lately. According to some experts, the idea of branded content first emerged way back in the 1940s – even if marketers didn’t have a name for it then.
Today, branded content is back in the spotlight because companies have begun to realise just how ineffective traditional marketing strategies are. In fact, according to one study:
- Brand recall is 59% better for branded content than display ads.
- Brand favourability is 7% higher than for display ads.
- Purchase consideration is 9% higher than with display ads.
Branded content gets more recognition from your audience and creates brand recognition. Because these videos and articles aren’t explicitly designed to sell products, customers believe that they’re more personal and tailor-made for their needs. Eventually, branded content can build trust, and lead to long-term customers. Some of the biggest benefits of a brand content strategy include:
1. Better audience reach
Today’s impatient customers are more likely to ignore a banner advertisement or obvious piece of promotional content than share it with their friends. People simply don’t engage with content that they can’t resonate with on an emotional level. Branded content creates an exciting story for customers to enjoy and gives it to them on their preferred channel. The result is a better chance of word of mouth marketing and brand advocacy.
2. Greater loyalty
Branded content doesn’t just give you a chance to connect with new customers; it also helps you to strengthen your relationship with existing consumers too. Thanks to the emotive and meaningful messages that go into brand content, companies have a chance to really show their clients what they’re all about, improving affinity and setting the stage for loyalty.
3. More authenticity and trust
Today, content has become a critical part of our day-to-day lives. We use it for everything from entertainment, to news updates. However, as consumers, we don’t just want to see any old content posted on the web. We want a chance to learn more about brands that are authentic and trustworthy. By showing your customers that you’re willing to put them first, instead of focusing exclusively on your profits, you can begin to develop a stronger sense of trust.
How to create the best branded content: Prepping your plan
It’s safe to say that the right branded content can do wonders for your company.
There are different types of branded content and different levels of success that you can achieve. The question is, how do you create something that’s going to attract and engage your target audience?
1. Show your story – don’t yell it
In today’s highly-competitive marketplace, simply telling people your story isn’t enough. You need to demonstrate something that’s going to capture the attention of your target audience.
2. Make sure you get emotional
The content created for a branded content strategy must be emotional if it’s going to work. The whole point of brand content is that it’s designed to connect with an audience on a deeper level.
3. Use characters that audiences can resonate with
Whether you’re creating a video, or simply writing a blog from the perspective of someone in your team, it’s important to ensure that your branded content has a human aspect. Implementing personality into your pieces helps you to demonstrate what your brand stands for, and it gives your customers something to resonate with.
4. Create stories that showcase your brand
While the primary focus of a branded content strategy isn’t telling people to buy your products, it’s still important for you to find a way to show people what’s good about the product or service you’re offering.
5. Be credible and authentic
One of the best things you can do when you want to make your branded content strategy a success is ensure that you design something that feels believable. With so much sponsored content out there vying for customer attention, it’s not enough to simply be “entertaining” anymore. Today’s brands need to be authentic because consumers are highly skeptical of any content that seems fake.
6. Don’t interrupt, delight
Finally, one of the reasons why branded content is so successful in the modern age is that we’ve entered an era of consumer choice. In other words, your clients are more empowered than ever before. They know that they can pick and choose which content they want to watch, and that means that attention from consumers needs to be earned.
Even when your customers aren’t actively paying money and downloading services that help them to avoid ads, they’re still looking for ways to reduce their exposure to advertising that interrupts their typical schedule. One of the best ways to make sure that you’re not disrupting your clients is to create branded content that feels natural.
This might mean showing your campaigns on social media with the help of influencers, or simply making sure that your videos look as good on mobile as they do on a desktop. After all, 55% of branded content is now viewed on mobile devices.