What Is Branded Content?



May 17, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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The world of digital marketing is ever-changing, so techniques that delivered consistent results in 2020 may not work for you in 2021. This is where branded content comes in. Simply put, branded content is a marketing technique that can help build trust between brands and consumers, elicit emotions among consumers, and increase return on investments in real-time. If conducted well, branded content is a cost-effective technique that delivers consistent results. Branded content is usually defined as customized content linked to a specific brand with the sole intention of creating a connection between the brand and the consumers.

For starters, there is a big difference between content that is branded and traditional advertising. Unlike conventional advertising, branded content is a conversation starter and a game-changer in multiple mediums such as live events, podcasts, articles, and videos. The approach works by driving engagement via quality content. Branded content marketing thrives by building trust. In this article, you’ll learn more about how branded content works via examples. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to decide whether it’s the best strategy to use in your upcoming project.

Why Does Branded Content Work so Well Compared To Traditional Advertising?

In online marketing, advertising techniques and marketing strategies constantly change as new trends are introduced in the industry. Today, most consumers have next to zero tolerance for any content that sounds like a sales pitch. So, the big question is, how do you present your brand to potential customers without putting them off? On-brand content communicates ideas regarding a brand differently. What’s so different about branded content?

Traditional marketing does not deliver the results it used to. In this era, consumers make more informed decisions before adding anything to the cart. It’s not easy to manipulate consumer decisions using banner ads, social media ads, and TV commercials. The trick to succeeding in today’s competitive world is making your brand stand out from the rest. To achieve this, you need to create high-quality brand content and promote it using powerful channels and platforms.

Have you ever wondered why many brands use online platforms to address key issues that exist in society? Well, this is the ideal definition of branded content marketing. On-brand content focuses on creating conversation regarding a brand rather than focusing on sales conversion. This marketing technique works by evoking an emotional response, making a bold social statement, telling an inspirational story, and entertaining consumers. Over the years, branded content has proven to be an effective yet consistent marketing strategy as its marketing approach is consumer-focused.

What Are the Characteristics of Branded Content?

With the introduction of social media platforms, there have been notable changes in how brands promote and advertise themselves. It’s easier to say the concept of advertising is constantly changing. Today, social media is considered a channel to reach out to new audiences and a proven means of expanding brands’ targets and objectives.

One of the changes evidenced in the advertising industry is the ultimate use of branded content. Ideally, branded content marketing is a strategy used to reach out to consumers using digital mediums such as infographics and videos.

Multiple factors differentiate content that is ingrained from the usual straight advertising. First, branded content offers valuetainment. Branded content offers influencers and marketers multiple benefits, and valuetainment is one of them. This means brand content aims at providing audiences value and entertainment (branded entertainment) at the same time. Also, branded content focuses on evoking consumers’ emotions through the storytelling aspect. As a result, consumers can make informed decisions before committing themselves to a product.

Second, on-brand content helps set the right tone. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, branded content helps deliver the content in a tone that meets consumers’ needs and demands. This marketing form aims to make consumers feel comfortable when engaging with a brand by using the right technique.

Third, branded content marketing helps sell the concept of a brand. Branded content is distinctive as it focuses on selling the concept and engaging the target consumers rather than selling the product. According to search engines, consumers search for an idea that offers detailed answers. On the same note, consumers prefer reading long-form content that is easy to internalize. Therefore, ensure you create content that primarily revolves around selling the solutions rather than describing a brand or a product.


Image via Pixabay by geralt
Since new marketing trends emerge every day, content and digital marketers must research and understand consumers’ wants. This form of marketing is becoming more attractive and popular among visitors. Branded content is an amazing tool that’s working for both top-ranked corporations and start-up firms. However, the strategy you use to implement branded content in your campaign entirely depends on your company’s short-term and long-term goals.

What Are the Values of Branded Content?

In today’s world, branded content leads to brand recognition and creates noticeable attention. If you’re just getting started with branded content, there’s one big question you need to answer by the end of the day. How will branded content add value to your company? Well, branded content continues to gain more popularity and it’s here to stay.

Branded content presents multiple values and benefits to users. According to Google, more than 60% of consumers prefer purchasing services and products from brands with tailored custom content.

Branded content helps facilitate an emotional connection between brands and customers. Let’s cut to the chase — branded content is more of an informative strategy rather than a selling approach. When properly implemented, brand content creates an emotional and personal connection. This way, you can directly engage potential consumers by narrating stories that evoke excitement. Such emotions and excitement are linked with your brand, making your brand memorable for such a long time.

Additionally, on-brand content attracts customers naturally and is noninvasive compared to native forms of advertising known to slow down page speed and navigation. This seems to put off consumers who are constantly searching for informative and educative content. With branded content, digital marketers manage to attract consumers naturally. As a result, these consumers remain closer to your brand — and generating traffic, leads, and ROI becomes more effective.

Branded content improves overall brand positioning. Over the past few years, most companies have been using repetitive slogans to introduce themselves to new audiences. Consequently, branded content marketing brings a more appealing strategy onboard as it presents visitors with positive values associated with a firm. As a result, consumers internalize a clear perception of how a brand offers services.

On-brand content is shareable and therefore offers a platform to make your content go viral. This increases the possibility of your brand going viral and reaching potential clients globally. Also termed the snowball effect, brand content plays an integral role in helping your brand reach a much wider coverage.

Branding stimulates user response. When it comes to running an online business, user response is a key factor to consider. Branded content marketing evokes audience engagement as it seeks to improve overall user response. This facilitates a medium in which brands can engage consumers at a personal level. As a result, brands develop a customer identity system where they can approach respective consumers using their usernames. Also, you end up winning your customers’ advocacy and loyalty as you keep the conversation going.

Do You Need a Brand Content Partner?

For starters, a brand content partnership is an agreement between digital marketers. Through these mutual partnerships, marketers work in close association to break into new markets, help increase brand exposure, and add value to services and products.

When successful brand content partnerships are created and utilized across multiple networks, brands can achieve the generation of public relations. When brand content marketers unite, they create a buzz. As a result, customers are excited and amused by a service or product. The buzz opens up new mediums of brand exposure and opportunities to reach out to consumers at a wider scope.

On the same note, brand content partnerships help build trust and exceptional user experience. When it comes to content marketing, user experience is an integral factor that can’t be ignored. Consequently, brand content partnerships improve user experience and help build trust between consumers and brands.

A brand content partnership helps add value to your brand. Branded content partnerships add intrinsic value to the services offered by stakeholders. Ideally, partnerships are meant to bring stakeholders together. With a well-integrated brand content partnership, you can add inherent value to the services you offer. As a result, consumers end up becoming loyal to your product. Branded content partnerships are created on different grounds. That is, they are not developed equally.

For a partnership to be effective and successful, both parties should benefit from the deal. Additionally, stakeholders must formulate an effective campaign tailored to offer consumers exceptional service delivery. Multiple examples prove branded content partnership work. For instance, Starbucks and Spotify formed a mutual partnership that helped achieve brand equity and reach new, lucrative markets. You can create a branded content partnership on a national and a global level. Deploying the strategies can be challenging. However, when done correctly, the payoff is lucrative.

How Memory Contributes To Effective Branded Content

In today’s world, consumers have a plethora of choices regarding choosing the right service provider and products. Therefore, brands have to reach high and win recognition in the much-anticipated marketplace. Speaking of which, a common question that arises when it comes to brand recognition is, what gives huge corporations an edge over mid-sized brands?

Brand consistency is a vital factor that contributes to the effectiveness of a content marketing campaign. Consistency is what gives highly recognized brands an edge over mid-sized businesses. If your brand keeps delivering authentic services and responsive customer support, the value of your brand increases, hence memory equity. In the marketing industry, context-dependent memory and psychological concepts have become a trend your company can’t afford snubbing.

Most brands rely on memory equity (audience awareness) to increase online visibility and introduce consumers to a product. Memory equity is the driving force that has contributed to the success of most branded content series. The awareness is realized when businesses interact with consumers. For instance, if your audience interacts with your brand when shopping, there is a high possibility that they might forget about your engagement once they’re done with shopping. However, with context-dependent memory, chances are they’ll search for your brand the next time they visit the stores.

Context-dependent memory works effectively if your brand is recognized in the market. Therefore, you must build trust, brand awareness, and loyalty with time. Generating an effective branded content series is not a moment but a journey. This means that you need to develop a strategy that will trigger the context-dependent memory work in your favor. First impressions are still important. However, most consumers need to engage your brand at multiple touchpoints before committing themselves to your brand.

Advantages of Branded Content

Content creation is a top-ranked medium used by marketers to engage an audience. With brand content, you can easily build long-term relationships and boost sales at the same time as it helps you reach the target audience. Today, consumers use ad-blocking programs to block the traditional channels of advertising. Using branded content gives you an upper hand as consumers prefer educational and informative content.

Branded content marketing helps support your overall marketing strategy. Have you ever heard of the ‘content is the king’ slogan? This is a slogan that has been used for years to emphasize the importance of offering consumers quality and straight-to-the-point content. On brand, content is equally crucial for the success of other campaigns. For instance, marketing tactics such as social media and search engine optimization rely on killer yet friendly content to engage consumers.

There are a plethora of agencies that specialize in content creation. Therefore, to ensure your brand content series is successful, consider outsourcing content development projects to reliable agencies. On the other hand, you can develop content yourself as long as you’re aware of the type of content your audience likes.

Besides helping your brand reach the target audience, branding helps you build loyalty and awareness. When you post informative content regularly on your website and social media platforms, consumers build a positive impression of your company. Publishing well-researched yet on-brand content makes your business trustworthy and authoritative. As a result, you gain your consumers’ trust and loyalty.

The bottom line is, quality on-brand content draws visitors to your platforms and website. Once the visitors are on your business website, you can persuade them to purchase or register for a daily, weekly, or monthly newsletter.

In terms of operations, branded content helps keep operational costs down. Media placements can cost you a good deal of money. With branded content, you save on operational costs as you execute most tasks. This way, you can boost your business and only spend when it’s necessary. For instance, hiring experienced content creators and programmers who keep updating your website for easier navigation.

Branded Content Examples

Let’s face the facts. Branded content has surpassed traditional marketing. Apparently, traditional marketing is not as effective as a decade ago. In this era, customers make informed decisions before purchasing products and services. Manipulating clients’ decisions using social media ads and banner ads can be a tedious task.

Therefore, if you’re looking forward to succeeding in branded content marketing, your brand should stand out from the rest, as the competition is stiff.

Best of Branded Content Examples for Inspiration

“The Lego Movie” by Lego Company

Lego is a renowned toy brand powered by experienced brand marketers. In 2003, the company diversified its products but failed to adapt to the constantly changing market trends. However, this brand made an impressive comeback after the release of “The Lego Movie” thanks to branded content.

The entertaining movie made a whopping $69 million on its launching weekend. Instead of focusing on Lego kits, the brand focused on releasing a quality movie, which suits both kids and adults. By the end of the day, the brand managed to impress critics and movie fanatics by featuring one of the most-watched movies in 2017. A year later, Lego’s sales increased by 25%, making it the best-branded content that year.

Lego is a branded content example that helps outline how understanding your target audience and leveraging on branded content and storytelling can skyrocket your campaign.

Madonna and “Watch Me Whip”

“Watch Me Whip” is a popular song that hit the media industry back in 2015. To date, “Watch Me Whip” song has more than 745 million views. With its iconic cultural dance, DanceOn displayed the perfect art of performance as the song has been viral since production. In 2015, the CEO of DanceOn, Amanda Taylor, invited 50 members to film diverse dance moves on the video. Consequently, the members drove over 250 million views to their individual videos and counting.

Toyota and “Back to the Future Day”

“Back to the Future Day” is a great film that collaborated with Toyota to advertise their much-anticipated fuel-efficient car, Toyota Mirai. Toyota worked in close association with Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox to create awareness on the model car that works on hydrogen. Michael J. Fox, Lloyd, and Mischa (the minds behind the production of Toyota Mirai) came up with a five-minute advert, where Mischa explained the efficiency of Toyota Mirai to the movie stars. Apparently, the car transforms garbage into hydrogen fuel. The commercial was not only sentimental but also proved to be educational and entertaining.

What’s the Difference Between Branded Content and Traditional Advertising?

The taste and preference of the modern generation have changed tremendously. Native forms of marketing no longer work as the millennials use ad blockers to block invasive content. Millennials are inclined towards creating a rapport with brands through engaging content.

In this era, marketing has shifted towards building a connection with audiences instead of pushing clients to buy a product. This is where branded content comes in. With branded content marketing, you can make a meaningful impact on your audience.

Brands rely on data insights before coming up with a marketing campaign. A few years ago, brands used direct ads to target the audience, but things have changed. Unlike native advertising, brands use branded content to generate a story that evokes response and feedback from targeted audiences. Over the past few years, it was hard for companies to measure their progress while using native advertising. With branded content, brands can measure the progress of marketing campaigns by analyzing responses, hence making accurate decisions.

Today, most organizations connect to increase brand exposure. Also known as co-branding, a brand content partnership is a marketing approach that helps brands break into target markets. It’s an effective way that helps brands boost awareness. Unlike native advertising that relies on commercial ads and TVs, branded content marketing guides brands to come up together and form a mutual partnership.

There are thousands of branded content partnerships in the marketing industry. An example of these partnerships is the mutual agreement between Louis Vuitton and BMW. The two companies share more common values than you may think, as both BMW and Louis Vuitton take pride in releasing products for luxury and travel enthusiasts. On the same note, both brands are renowned in terms of outstanding craftsmanship.

After the BMW-Louis Vuitton partnership, BMW released the famous BMW i8 sports car, whereas Louis Vuitton launched a classy, four-piece set of bags that perfectly fit in the rear shelf of the sports car. The four-piece bags were priced at $20,000 and the BMW i8 was priced at $135,700. The partnership was quite a success. The bottom line is, this is the concept that native advertising failed to deliver, hence making brand content the game changer of marketing.

Over the years, marketers have been using banner ads and commercials to reach potential consumers. This means the marketers have not been focusing on creating a rapport or engaging the audience. With branded content, the primary aim of marketing is engaging the audience and incorporating feedback. Branded content works by creating a buzz regarding a brand instead of advocating for sales. To measure the success of an ongoing campaign, marketers use key metrics such as shares, mentions, and views.

There’s a big difference noted when you compare native advertising and branded content in terms of value. Marketers who relied on native advertising created content about a service or a product. On the other hand, influencers who use branded content create informative yet killer content. Simply put, native advertising is perceived as salesy, whereas brand content is ranked as the ideal definition of valuetainment.

The strategy used by on-brand content influencers and that used by native advertisers differs. Native marketers capitalized on presenting rational statements to audiences, with the primary aim of directing consumers to sign up with their brands. With brand content marketing, the case is different. Brand content marketers use the storytelling technique to evoke consumers’ emotions. In the long run, consumers engage brands, hence more sales.

Evolution of Branded Content

The roots of brand content date way back. A few decades ago, brands and content marketers conceptualized authentic content of their own. With the advent of video content, smartphones, and the internet, brand content has undergone a tremendous evolution. Be it infographics, branded content series, articles, or videos, brand content works for the better good of brands if done right.

With the right strategy, your brand can hit the target market in real-time. For instance, Dove is an example of a brand that hit the limelight of its sales after tapping into women’s emotions. Dove is a renowned company that created the famous “beauty is for everyone” campaign. The campaign was a success considering the video had 50 million views 12 days after being released. The bottom line is, native marketing tactics have become obsolete. Smart strategies of pushing content to the target audience have been realized, considering consumers search for informative content.

Branded content series is more about telling consumer stories and compelling them to come back. With on-brand content, higher chances are consumers trust brands with content that revolves around valuetainment rather than a service or a product. Branded content marketing is about boosting the existing audience-brand relationships. Brands send meaningful and strong messages by showing the customers that they care. For Dove, the brand grabbed consumers’ attention by building their self-confidence.

What’s the Difference Between Branded Entertainment and Product Placement?

While consumers register for commercial-free platforms and ad-blockers, brands shift their focus from native advertising to branded content series. For starters, branded entertainment is a collective term for authentic content produced with the primary aim of making the audience watch content and engage brands.

Is there a difference between content marketing, product placement, and branded entertainment? Well, these marketing strategies involve generating content for marketing purposes. While content marketing works by stimulating interest in the services or products of brands, branded entertainment is transparent. It works when the target audience is aware that the content is produced and paid for by a brand.

Product placement is another form of advertising you need to familiarize yourself with before diving into the world of marketing. For marketing newbies, product placement is a strategy that involves placing a branded product into a film as part of the film, where the film producers get paid for the placement. While the brand enjoys advertising privileges, the film receives part of the production covered. The approach used to reach consumers entirely depends on the marketers’ tactics as some of the product placements are extremely clever, while others are obvious.

A perfect example that describes the take of product placement on branded content series is James Bond. Widely known as a film genius, James Bond is a top-ranked movie franchise that has done product placements on watches, laptops, computers, and cars. In one of his movies, James Bond is featured drinking Heineken beer. As a result, the actor was paid a whopping $45 million. Considering many people love high-quality movies that come with great visuals, the Heineken company targeted to hit many consumers on a global level.

Branded entertainment, product placement, and content marketing revolve around different distribution models, but the aim remains the same: providing consumers with unique yet engaging content. You need to learn the key differences between content marketing, branded content marketing, and product placement for marketers. This way, you can easily identify a strategy that best suits your marketing campaign.

Branded entertainment works. The strategy is designed to serve multiple purposes. In films, branded entertainment is used to build brand loyalty and interest while showcasing values. With the tremendous marketing shifts, brands are guided to publishing what consumers want rather than producing content about a service or a product.

To successfully implement your brand content campaign, consider setting clear goals for the campaign. After listing realistic marketing goals, generate an entertaining idea that will help grab visitors’ attention. Brands should have an oriented narrative that fully extends beyond the advertising campaign. Well formulated plot developments, characters, and stories strengthen the impact of brands. Just like branded content series, branded entertainment is a technique that helps you evaluate your brand. The result of using this strategy is achieving a successful campaign focused on your mission, message, and core values.

What Is Branded Content on Social Media?

In social media, branded content is used by firms and influencers to authentically drive business initiatives, find new consumers, and build advocacy. Today, firms share stories about their brands by forming partnerships with other brands and influencers. Instagram and Facebook top the list of social media platforms used by influencers to connect brands and consumers.

Best of Social Media Branded Content Platforms


Instagram is a social media platform used to drive on-brand content to consumers in a noninvasive way. With Instagram, you can connect with audiences by understanding their culture. The platform facilitates an organic path into existing trends and access to audiences through trusted voices. On the same note, this platform helps influencers to present brand content by galvanizing cultural and social events.

Influencers and marketers use Instagram to create a brand sentiment built upon consideration, awareness, and trust. How do you define a successful branded content campaign? When it comes to targeting consumers via Instagram, a successful campaign is determined by the number of comments, followers, and shares you get. That is, if your brand content is engaging enough audience, you get active followers who comment and share your forums.

Branded content has proven to be an impressive way of accessing potential clients. With branded content ads, you can make your campaign more effective by reaching millions of clients. Over the past few years, influencers were unable to incorporate branded content feeds into their marketing strategies. Now, adding feeds on this platform ensures branded content posts and story ads are enabled. Whether you’re a content creator or a business, you can use Instagram to reach your target market and analyze the data for insights.


On the Facebook platform, branded content is defined as a post that includes videos, photos, text, live videos, and links from influencers that incorporate a third-party brand or product. Marketers, influencers, and celebrities with verified pages can share branded content via ads and organic posts.

Facebook has made collaboration easy as users can evaluate their online visibility and take control over the entire marketing campaign. However, influencers must tag a marketer in the branded content post to differentiate usual posts from branded content on Facebook. When it comes to marketing on Facebook, influencers and publishers are entitled to understand their ultimate obligations by defining the nature of a post. Branded content is an evolving and growing trend in the media landscape. With Facebook, marketers, influencers, and publishers have a platform for sharing authentic, killer content with their fans.

Facebook is the ideal platform for influencers and publishers. On Facebook, marketers are notified when an influencer or publisher posts branded content feeds. Marketers are accrued with benefits such as cost per thousand impressions (CPM) of the post, metrics, insights, and engagement. On the same note, marketers are offered the option to share and boost posts to add extra value to the content.

Brands that use Facebook for marketing purposes closely monitor their initiatives, hence more transparency. For marketers, Facebook offers you a platform where you can leverage ads and engage in partnerships and sponsorships to ensure the shared branded content is insightful, interesting, and entertaining. Do you own a brand, and you’re interested in sharing branded content on Facebook? Consider connecting with a celebrity, influencer, or publisher.

The Future of Branded Content Marketing

There is a huge difference between successful brands and mid-sized businesses. Successful companies know when to evolve so as to meet consumers’ needs and demands. So, when is the right time to unwind? Second, what’s the future of branded content? In an ever-changing digital space, brands are responsible for ensuring their staff are well trained, live by the brand’s values, and are the best ambassadors for their respective brands.

Today, recognized brands thrive in terms of grabbing audiences’ attention. To stand out from other corporations, you need to come up with an inclusive brand name. Consequently, your brand name does not need to directly connect with the line of services you offer or the products you sell. Therefore, you can generate a synonymous brand name and use it to drive your story to the consumers.

The future of branded content marketing is personalized engagement with audiences based on their preferences and needs. Therefore, brands must engage consumers with value propositions if they want to stay ahead of the competition.

Today, messaging apps and chatbots set the pace for on-brand content as most brands have specialized in offering a world-class user experience. Considering there are apps that show personalized content and leads, brands don’t have a choice but to develop futuristic marketing strategies.

On the same note, some brands have released apps that offer potential consumers authentic content to make more informed purchasing decisions. Therefore, brands need to create personalized relationships with consumers. This way, brands can answer clients arising questions in real-time. Soon, chatbots are expected to be the ultimate medium to drive outbound and inbound campaigns more strategically.

Customers are expected to own brand content narratives soon. For instance, a trending video can easily overwrite your history. This means the brand’s job will be engaging customers’ narrative, curating it, and evolving it. Today, most brands operate using extended marketing cycles. In the future, micro strategies are expected to take over as they will facilitate the evolution of engagement and interaction. On the same note, consumers will dictate the values offered by a brand and tell the story about a brand with more velocity and authenticity, thanks to artificial intelligence.

Stats That Prove Branded Content Works

Branded content is 20 times more effective compared to banner ads. Visitors spend an average of 36 seconds reading through branded content, which is appealing compared to the average 1.6 seconds they spend going through banner ads. This is according to the Nielsen report. On the same note, the report states that branded content contributes to more than 86% of brand recalls.

According to a recent study from IPG Media Lab, more than 16% of consumers seek additional content when exposed to brand content. In terms of collaboration, marketers who advertise content through an influencer’s or publisher’s network achieve over 50% brand lift than those who publish content on their own.

The bottom line is, branded content is the future of marketing. The strategy is bringing more value and creativity to the content marketing industry. Branded content has proven why it’s ideal for offering consumers authentic yet engaging content. Multiple branded content examples reveal this form of content is the future of marketing. With successful partnerships and collaborations, it’s clear that branded content marketing has taken over the industry.

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CopyPress writer

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