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The truth about branded content - video needs strategy, story, and succession

Nov 15, 2017

Authentic story-telling is the key to capturing - and keeping - attention in the world of online branded content. Video is at the heart of this movement, driven by the proliferation of commercial-free streaming platforms and the short-form demands of the social media machine.

So if you’re sick of ploughing your budget into traditional campaigns that reach only a fraction of your target market, it’s time to think ‘digital’.

But there’s a catch...

Jumping on the digital content bandwagon presents unique challenges. It’s worlds away from traditional marketing and advertising tactics, and requires a specialised approach.


Engagement over sales

No matter how subtle your branding, audiences know the difference between advertising and entertainment.

Take this example from McDonald's, which was promptly pulled after being accused of exploiting childhood bereavement to sell fast food.

It was meant to be a heartwarming story that audiences could relate to. Instead, the ad was described as inappropriate and insensitive to those who had experienced similar grief.

If you want to win over your target market with branded video content, you'll need a well-thought-out strategy, which places an emphasis on authentic storytelling and a plan ensuring consistency.


What is branded content? Video leads the way

Traditional advertising approaches are often explicit in their attempts to sell a product or service. Entertainment value was a bonus - the business or product being promoted was the number one priority.

Today, on-demand video streaming, ad blocking and ad skipping are commonplace, forcing brands to re-think their approach towards sales and marketing.

Enter branded content - specifically, branded video content that entertains, educates, informs, or otherwise stirs emotion in an audience.

Branded content tells a story people are interested in hearing.

As Molly DeWolf Swenson states in a recent AdWeek piece, “Good content is good content. If a story is moving, no one is going to care that it’s brought to you by a brand. Rather, they’re going to be happy the brand brought it to them.”

The art is creating stories people connect with. Attention first. Brand second.


Understanding the value of branded content

A joint study from IPG MediaLab, Forbes, and Syracuse University's Newhouse School found that brand recall was 59% higher for branded content than display and native ads.

What's more, consumers are 14% more likely to look for additional content from a company after a single impression of branded content.

But this is where many businesses become unstuck. Inevitably, viewers will browse their site or social media channels, hit a brick wall when they find no other branded video content, and go elsewhere to fulfil their entertainment needs.

Branded content, video especially, is as much about the story as it is consistency. Provide your audience with a constant stream of content - across your suite of digital channels - and the brand will become known for more than just its products or services.


Tips for branded content video strategy

  • Take a complementary approach - Branded content should complement your advertising campaigns, not replace them. It's a long-term strategy that takes many months to deliver results. But the momentum and brand awareness built will make it worth the journey.
  • Build a story around your brand and its offering - Don't concentrate on what your brand does or sells; turn your attention to how it influences or affects the customer. This is much more meaningful and avoids any scent of sales-centric communication.
  • Create a conversation around your brand and its offering - Branded content doesn't have to be overtly related to your business. Instead, it can be used to create conversations about something you share with customers, such as a set of beliefs or values.
  • Associate your brand and its offering with a good cause – … like coming out in support of a closely-aligned charity or movement. The only way to truly make this work is to legitimately believe in the cause you're championing. Viewers can smell inauthenticity a mile away.
  • Have a plan – Regardless of whether you build stories, create conversations, or champion a good cause, think of branded content as a long-term initiative, which consistently adds value to the customer experience over time.


Branded content video examples from Jumbla


 - Cricket Australia

This is a great example of how storytelling can be used to effectively communicate a brand's mission. By evoking emotions such as nostalgia, pride, passion, and hope, it provides the viewer with an engaging and relatable piece of content.

Even though this video was created to outline Cricket Australia's four-year plan, it concentrates on how future aspirations will benefit both players and viewers of the sport. The brand is putting the best interests of others before its own.


 - Deakin University

In order to attract new students to its engineering program, Deakin University used branded video content to create a conversation about the subject. It asks the audience what they think and feel when hearing the word ‘engineering’, before launching into its myriad applications.

The voiceover combines with vision to get your mind racing about the power, potential, and possibilities of engineering. Instead of an explicit call to action, Deakin University simply states how the word engineering has the same latin root as ingenious - something it challenges would-be students to exhibit.


 - The Wilderness Society

While championing a good cause is what the Wilderness Society does on a daily basis, it used branded content in this instance to generate greater awareness and empathy. It offers a tearjerking scenario, which is bound to resonate with viewers and elicit support.

By comparing the plight of endangered species to the human race, its message has extra gravitas and quickly becomes a sombre reminder of society’s collective responsibility. A simple call-to-action allows for careful contemplation without forcing the issue.


The bottom line on branded content - video rules but you need a plan

Branded content is in no way taking over from advertising; it merely offers modern audiences a different format for content consumption and brand connection.

How can your business take advantage of the many benefits of branded content video? Create a strategy built around storytelling, conversation, or common values and make a plan to continue this into the future.

It sounds simple, and in reality it is - the hard part is remaining consistent, and staying true to engaging your audience rather than pushing sales communications down their collective throats.

Need help with your branded content? Hit us up today.

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