The art of Branded content

What is Branded content?

Branded content is the actor who gets up on stage just to perform – true to her art and true to her audience. She stands out from other fellow actors whose stage acts are cloyingly fake. While other advertising strategies constantly try to convince you of their worth, she’s the passionate one who enjoys her art. She’s not trying to sell anything. The audience is not forced to buy, consult, click, call, respond or take action immediately. They can leisurely contemplate her act and appreciate it in their own time. If they like her performance, they can share it with friends. And if she does a good job, people remember her performance.

Branded content is content in any form that companies create to build brand awareness, improve recall and create a positive brand image. It can be on print, TVC’s, movies or reality shows. But predominantly, they are videos, specifically on various social media platforms.

It employs a reverse marketing method that begins with what brands are made up of – the stories of people.

What stories are people telling each other ? What kinds of videos are people watching online? What connects emotionally with people? What type of content do people enjoy and come back to? What do they often talk about? What are they sharing? What cause do they want to be part of? These questions are research points that form the foundation for this marketing strategy. Once you get this blueprint done, then you figure out a creative way to fit your brand into their stories.

With a blueprint like that, brands can build massive pyramids.

How is it different from Traditional advertising?

Clocks in more:

Permanent Roommates Season 1 had CommonFloor as its Brand Partner. It was an instant hit back in 2014 when the first episode was launched on YouTube. It garnered 12 million views for all five episodes of Season 1. Now, The Viral Fever (TVF) has started Season 2 in association with Ola Cabs.

Did you note that the episode length increased double fold by the end of the series? S1E1 was 14 minutes long. But the final episode was 37 minutes long. In S2, every episode averages at 52 minutes!

Brands in association with successful web series have two advantages: a) They get a large block of time from their audience b) They create expectations in the minds of their viewers.

Stays Mum:

Unlike traditional marketing, brand integrations don’t even mention the features or benefits of the product. They simply entertain the audience.

Look at the number of views on that video!

We are presented with the story of the fastest man alive. Folks at Gatorade have not called attention to their product, except for a brief five seconds. This is Usain’s story. This is a story for the fans of Usain. This story is for achievers and champions-to-be.

The key takeaway is – Gatorade understood their target market right.

So, who are the targets?

Everybody. No, seriously! The whole world can be your audience, if your content is good enough.

Yet, we see brands choosing their target segment very carefully. They find overlaps in their target segments and those of existing popular content creators and draw up a partnership. Collaboration is a great way to get a variety into your content marketing. Take for instance, this video by AIB: An ode to the woman who trudges along on her ‘Walk of Shame’, presented by Truly Madly.

AIB and TM Venn


Truly Madly figured out that the majority of their targets were youngsters who would also be fans of AIB. As a viewer, the familiarity of one brand (AIB) is subconsciously connected to the other (Truly Madly) when you take in content that you enjoy. That’s what I’d call a WIN-WIN game.

Branded content gives you powerful and extensive reach.

What are its advantages ?

Back to the stage performance. It is evident that the performer who loves her art is loved by her audience.

Branded content is your company’s way of showcasing your art.

It tells people you care deeply about some cause, that you are passionate about things, that you are not always looking to make big bucks. It gives people a reason to google you and seek you out.

It gives people a reason to love your brand.

This blog was originally published here.

Marketing dot mp4

I got good news, bad news and some great news.

Good news: Rambling prose, the Ramsay Bolton of marketing, is dead.


Companies, from startups to giants, have opened their eyes to the astounding potential of a good video.

Businesses are hosting explainers on their landing pages and creating quick, bite-sized content for social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Pinterest have included native video players on their platforms.

We’ve done away with heavy-text content. And by nudging static ads out, content marketing has stepped into the future.

But along with all the great videos, video marketing dragged in every mediocre, substandard video, bringing in the most dreaded zeitgeist of the current age – a glut of videos.

That leads me to the …

…Bad news: Winter is here. And it brought Ice Zombies


The online marketing rush is amassing video creators, big or small, good or bad. Content is generated in staggering numbers (link to a legitimate site with statistics that show incredible numbers).

When you click on one video, you practically open up the floodgates for an army of related content to pour through. This is being orchestrated by algorithms that analyse your past searches and promote similar content.In the 1900’s that was creepy and unwarranted. In 2016, it’s called personalisation of your newsfeed.

We are facing a massive brain-freeze in terms of consuming curated content. We’re consuming too much, too quickly.

Watch one video about Brexit and get 30 more ‘related’ videos in your YouTube home screen. Watch those, and before you know it, you are learning about the mating patterns of ostriches.

This army is big. Videos, videos are everywhere.

Great news: You can sit on the iron throne.

As the Master of Online Marketing, Bringer of Leads and Keeper of Client relationships, you, of all people will appreciate the importance of Seer. (Seer = a foreteller)

This blog, right here, is your harbinger. Because we have some interesting predictions for the future of video marketing.

Let me usher you in.

You sell energy drinks? Great. Create a video anyway.

Red Bull gives you more than wings.

Red Bull has a content arm, called Red Bull Media house which has been producing video content from the start.

They target the adventurous demographic – guys and gals – who need that extra boost of adrenaline. Now, Red Bull is synonymous with gaining power, energy, skills and of course the proverbial sprouting of wings.

Every company will become a media company in the coming years. So, what you should be doing NOW, is concentrating on building an audience who are not just customers but are also evangelists.

Don’t stop with one.

Nykaa, a one-stop online shop for beauty products, has pulled-in ‘beauty gurus’ of YouTube fame, to create How-to’s, Challenges, List videos and many other types of engaging videos.

Nykaa has nearly 44k subscribers on YouTube and 109k followers on Instagram. That kinda fan following doesn’t happen with just one video.

Home Depot has more than 122k subscribers on Youtube. Their YouTube channel has hundreds of How-to videos, Expert’s opinions, Challenges, and other home-repair related content, in neatly organized playlists.

These companies are not aiming to produce one mega-hit, super-viral video.

Instead, they try to build audiences beyond their current circle, by producing useful and entertaining content. It helps if this content is continuous, episodic and well, available online.

Every video counts.

Jumping on the bandwagon is all fine, as long as you can create great videos every time.

Bad quality videos can have two results: a) It can go viral for all the wrong reasons or b) it can vanish. It’s going to hurt your brand if your target is to hit the one-hundred-video-mark on your YouTube channel. Bad videos fill your channel but in the end, they really give you a sucker-punch when it comes to Branding.

This can help:

Good video: Replaces content
Great video: Enhances content

A good video has good execution but disregards the content. A great video always, always adds to the script or idea behind it.

Content is most definitely King.

The future of Video marketing is already here.

Online communities and content creators have experimented with a lot of trends in videos in the past 6 months:

  • Facebook introduced autoplay and suggested videos
  • Facebook launched live streaming
  • Businesses make explainer videos and demo videos (this is my personal favourite)
  • Individuals create homemade videos for personal branding
  • Companies use short and sweet animation videos for processes like employee on-boarding, CSR formalities, fire drills etc. (another favourite)

And that should tell you a lot about what the future holds for videos.

Video marketing is at the cusp of a major explosion. They are going to be ubiquitous. Soon, when you think of press releases, sales emails, reaching out to leads, running event campaigns, or branding, you will think of videos.

Thanks for sticking around till the end, even if this post didn’t have any videos for you.

I’d like to thank Vidyard for the reference. And Game of Thrones for the gifs.
This blog was originally published here.

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