Branded content: what it is and how to include it in your strategy

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That marketing campaigns with invasive and aggressive ads no longer work is becoming clearer every day. This change in advertising occurs because competition has grown, the market is saturated with advertising and information and, therefore, the options that consumers have when choosing a product or service are very numerous.

Are you taking this new landscape into account in your inbound marketing strategy?

Among the new techniques at your fingertips, branded content can bring you interesting advantages. If you have already heard of it and have considered integrating it into your strategy, keep reading and do not miss the examples that I have left you at the end!

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What is branded content?

In recent years, large and medium-sized companies have understood that the customer is better to win them over with quality content and valuable experiences. And it is precisely in this new trend of marketing where the branded content or brand content is located.

Branded content is a marketing technique that corresponds to quality content created by a company, whose objective is no longer to communicate the benefits of a product or service but to transmit an experience to its users to connect with them.

Characteristics and advantages of branded content

To go into more detail about the concept, here are the most important characteristics of brand content:

  • Focused on the values ​​of the brand and not on the product or service. It consists of generating content to transmit the values ​​of the brand, but in no case does it try to inform about the product or service. The product or service is not the protagonist.
  • Your ultimate goal is to build brand awareness rather than sell. The main function of branded content is not to market a product or service, but to impact the user through its content to generate notoriety and that the user remembers your brand.
  • Connect with users and appeal to emotions. In order to connect with the consumer, branded content appeals to their feelings and emotions using various narrative techniques.
  • Tell stories and be creative. Use methods such as storytelling to tell an exciting and powerful story so that the user remembers it. In addition, it can embody different formats (video, podcast, text, events, etc.).
  • Seeks to establish a long-term relationship with your audience. Finally, branded content is content of value to your audience, since it is interesting and attractive.

Why include branded content in your marketing strategy? Know its advantages

Thanks to branded content, your marketing actions will go beyond the sale of a product or service. The objective of a strategy based on valuable brand content is to generate notoriety and affinity with users.

In other words, you will be executing actions that will consolidate user loyalty and bring you other advantages such as:

  • Crea engagement. The generation of valuable content, capable of transmitting emotions, will help you connect your brand with users. In this way, you will be applying actions for a much more productive relationship than simply selling products and services.
  • Connect with the user and generates interaction. The different types of content (stories, videos, images, text, etc.) of a brand content strategy allow users to more easily connect and interact with them.
  • Build a community and loyalty. It’s a great way to build empathy and build a community of fans around your brand. Users are proud of your brand and become your best ambassador and advocate.
  • Get records. Branded content is one of the most effective techniques to get registrations, take them through the entire marketing funnel and get them to go from being complete strangers to the brand to being its prescribers and even fans.

funnelImage: marketing funnel

  • Improve brand positioning. Valuable content will make your brand gain more notoriety and that people will identify with your products and services.
  • Virality. Branded content, due to its nature, has a better chance of becoming viral content, reaching a large number of visits in a very short time and contributing, again, to brand awareness.

Differences between branded content and product placement

Product placement can be defined as the intermediate stage between traditional outbound advertising and branded content. This technique began to be experimented in the 1980s, when television advertising strategies were no longer as effective. A very clear example of product placement is the inclusion of branded products among scene objects in movies.

Remember the famous Russell Stover box of chocolates in the movie Forrest Gump? The chocolates became so popular that the brand even developed a special box with the design used in the scene.

Branded content is positioned as a more subtle and advanced technique. It does not intend to sell a product but to connect with the user to gain their trust.

Sometimes the formats and techniques can lead to confuse the two strategies. Therefore, to distinguish between branded content and product placement, I suggest you take these three aspects into account:

  • Control over the product. In the case of product placement, the brand has no control, the product is subject to what is indicated in the script. With a branded content strategy you can create your own script, the brand is the one that decides the values ​​to transmit.
  • Focus. The product in the placement strategy is totally passive. In the branded content it is the essence of the plot.
  • Credibility. The biggest risk of product placement is the lack of credibility that it can produce in the user / viewer. Branded content, due to its non-intrusive essence, is perceived as something more natural, not artificial.

Branded content and its impact on the purchase cycle

As we have seen, in an increasingly crowded and saturated market, branded content is a technique that offers many advantages. But you have to work the actions very well, proposing surprising and innovative content.

A good previous work of analysis of the target audience, their pains and the solutions they are looking for is the basis to be able to produce content that adds value. The brand’s discourse will be built on these, with the aim of bringing it closer to its users without selling them anything.

The idea is to drive the conversation instead of advertising products, since the interaction is the basis for creating a link, transmitting emotions and getting loyal users. This translates into an investment of resources that bring benefits for the company in the short and long term.

In the short term, thanks to the notoriety that the brand is acquiring, a better positioning will be achieved. Over time, in addition, the engagement generated will make users continue to choose the products of those brands with which they feel identified and become ambassadors.

Examples of branded content

Let’s leave the theory and move on to practice. Bringing valuable content closer to potential customers is fine, but how do you do it? What have been the best known success stories? We are going to see 4 of the most viral:

1. Red Bull, the king of branded content

There is no company that overshadows Red Bull in the field of branded content. Really, none. There has been no other organization capable of creating such a clear relationship between its audience and the brand.

Red Bull has gone from being a manufacturer of energy drinks to being something else thanks to branded content. In fact, we can already consider it more as a content producer than as an energy drink brand.

There are many examples of branded content made by the Red Bull brand. However, surely we all remember the most famous one: the jump from the stratosphere by Felix Baumgartner, which was totally created and sponsored by this brand. What better way to continue to position itself as a brand related to extreme sports than to finance the largest base jump in history?

As you can see, in this way the brand carried out an advertising action, but providing a lot of value to its potential clients (in this case, entertainment and emotions).

2. Coca-Cola

Do you know the famous Coca-Cola campaign with the cans with names? This is also a brilliant branded content strategy. The beverage brand provides personalized, original and interesting content, which it knows its consumers will like, since that collector’s and egocentric vein that we all have jumps when we see the can with our name on it.

With this campaign, Coca-Cola has garnered millions of mentions on social media, appeared on the news and practically monopolized all the marketing news for days and days (when it was launched). In short, “free” advertising thanks to a good branded content campaign.


Source: Coca-Cola

3. Kit Kat

The power of branded content on social media is unlimited. This was taken advantage of by Kit Kat. The chocolate brand created a Facebook application on Valentine’s Day that measured the compatibility of its followers with their partners. The couple that got the highest score would take a trip to Paris with all kinds of luxuries. How about?

In this case, the results also speak for themselves. Thousands of users participated, sharing the app and the Kit Kat brand to infinity and beyond.

Facebook apps and well-targeted contests are a perfect tool to turn any unknown brand, even if in this case it wasn’t, into a trend on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network.

4. Estrella Damm and its comics

Estrella Damm is another leading brand in branded content. And, when summer approaches, we all look forward to the now traditional Estrella Damm short film. They are usually videos that tell stories of people aligned with the spirit of the Barcelona brand based on the concept “Mediterráneamente”.

Each summer these stories generate an expectation for all the followers of the brand, thus creating notoriety and visibility. Estrella Damm gets consumers to associate its product with these stories, making it much more palatable.

The short film that I have chosen as an example is the one from last summer, and it shows the story of two characters enjoying the Mediterranean lifestyle.

Is branded content only for large companies?

The 4 examples that I have given are from large companies, but that does not mean that the branded content is exclusive to them.

Any SME or freelancer can also make branded content with their products or services simply by having a blog or a web page. You can replicate the four strategies of Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Kit Kat and Estrella Damm on a small scale.

If, for example, you have a restaurant and you want to increase the number of clients during the week, you can create contests on social networks, propose pairing workshops or wine tastings. Is your business in the professional education sector for hairdressers? A good branded content strategy could be developed on Pinterest, creating very specific boards to promote the quality of your institution and its values.

Sponsoring an event on your theme in your city, personalizing your products to make customers identify with them or creating a contest with a Facebook app are other actions used by the big brands that are also within your reach.

Branded content is not for brands with money. It is for people and companies with imagination and desire to connect with their buyer persona and offer interesting and useful content for their day to day. Do you dare to start your branded content strategy?

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