In an extremely competitive market, there is an increased need for brands and businesses to stand out, connect with their audiences and build customer loyalty. Branded content marketing is a great tool to help do this.
It’s the best vehicle for marketers to bridge the gap between awareness and affinity, says the Content Marketing Institute. A USC Annenberg survey reveals that 74.5% of communication professionals rely on branded content. Plus, an extra 44% of B2C companies plan to increase their investments in branded challenges in 2022, according to HubSpot Blog Research.
So what is branded content and why should you be including it in your content marketing strategy?
What is branded content?
Branded content offers value and entertainment; it focuses on evoking customers’ emotions through storytelling, and as a result, helps them make informed buying decisions. Unlike traditional forms of content marketing, branded content ‘helps deliver the content in a tone that meets consumers’ needs and demands’, says Copy Press. It is not content that directly advertises. It avoids harsh sales talk and direct promotion and there is no sales pitch. Instead, it sells the brand, its values and mission alongside the product.
The different types of branded content
If you’re new to this type of content, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Here are some examples of branded content:
- In-person events
- Video content
- Social Media Content
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The difference between branded content and content marketing?
You may look at the list above and think: “well, I already use a lot of these in my content marketing plan.” This is understandable as they can cover the same marketing approaches. However, where content marketing focuses solely on highlighting and selling your products or services, branded content is about your business’ message, values and story. You can tailor content marketing to different audience segments. Branded content is for everyone.
How to create branded content that works?
There are two things to bear in mind when creating branded content:
- Focus on storytelling: your content needs to tell a story. Go beyond the “what” you did and show how and why you did it. Tell your consumers how you are practising your business values and achieving your mission whilst using traditional storytelling techniques. This includes good characters, an engaging plot and a compelling narrative that entertains, educates or entices the reader to find out more.
- Hit a nerve: you want to pull on your consumer’s heartstrings, make them laugh or inspire them. Content that evokes emotion is more likely to persuade your audience to invest in your brand, products and services. “When you make an emotional connection with your audience, it’s easy to steer them to the desired outcome,” says Neil Patel.
Good branded content examples
Here are three brands that are nailing their branded content by producing unforgettable campaigns.
Red Bull is extremely successful in generating good, branded content; they know how to focus on their brand values and personality – all of the traits that embody their well-known slogan ‘Red Bull gives you wings’.
Their most famous campaign is Felix Baumgartner’s free fall from 128,000 feet from the stratosphere. Wearing a white space suit and adorned with the Red Bull logo, Baumgartner made the jump live and people are still watching the video almost 10 years later.
The brand saw a huge return on investment and searches for Red Bull sky-rocketed, despite no direct mention of their drink in the video. This was an advert for the brand’s athleticism, risk-taking and daring attitude.
The Coca-Cola enterprise is one of the biggest names in the soft drinks industry worldwide. But to reach its global status of success, branded content has worked endlessly to create strong emotional connections between its consumers and the brand.
One of their most popular, and most successful campaigns, was the Share a Coke campaign. Replacing its iconic logo with different names, consumers flocked to stores to try and find their name on the bottle with many buying the drink for the novelty.
Even nicknames, monikers and colloquialisms were printed on the bottles – it offered an opportunity for everyone to take part. Therefore making this a memorable campaign.
Since 2004, Dove has continued to challenge the beauty industry. After discovering only 4% of women found themselves beautiful, the brand developed its campaign for Real Beauty. From the first campaign eight years ago, Dove has since created many adaptations.
The campaign goal was to change women’s body confidence while connecting “real beauty” with the Dove brand.
The brand saw a 700% uplift in sales plus the formation of a community in the wake of the campaign. Today, Dove continues to break beauty standard conventions in their advertising and win the hearts of so many women.
Creating branded content
Testing ideas to see which resonate with your audience is a key part of creating a successful campaign. This marketing strategy can help develop an emotional bond between your customers and your brand.
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