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MARCH 4, 2020

Branded Content. The Emotional Connection To Your Brand.

tony treadway

The days of overtly shoving a brand message down the throats of consumers died about a half-century ago. Alas. Some marketers are just now finding branded content as a technique.

It began when cable TV started fragmenting audiences away from the days of rabbit ear antennas and the three networks. Then, for three decades advertisers catered their message to groups who were drawn to their own special interests. ESPN. The Food Network. The Hallmark and The Military Channel each offering an opportunity to tune a message to their demographic. Then came the Internet and the web browser. What was the next logical step for a smart marketer?

Today, consumer pick their content thanks to the Internet. We are leveraging content strategies in two basic ways. Content used as a resource, much like a library and content that is designed to spark a positive emotional connection between a consumer and a brand.   

There are 5.6 billion Google searches every day in the U.S. That’s 63,000 Google searches every second!

Tony Treadway
Creative Energy President

The opportunities for both types of content are mind blowing. There are 5.6 billion Google searches every day in the U.S. That’s 63,000 searches every second. Plus, 15% of all Google searches have never been typed before. So, 63,000 humans every second are searching for content.

Let’s discuss branded content. It’s a marketing technique that enables consumers to connect with the values that a brand stands for. Its purpose is to share the values of the brand, not just its products or services. When branded content works it generates conversation and builds notoriety around a brand. Rather than pitching a product or service, it adds value to a user experience that creates an emotional reaction that touches their heart and quietly tells them that the brand understands them unlike any other competitor. Branded content is often found, not pushed at them through a smart digital targeting strategy developed by savvy agencies and clients.

Great branded content is built like a story—with a beginning, a middle and an end. The content can be more than a video. Think about podcasts that tell a story. It can be copy and images. It can be a series of events sponsored by a brand. It’s a form of dating a consumer to win their heart so that they will try your brand—then fall in love with it for life. Here are two good examples.

Let’s say that you are a restaurant chain. Yes, you air TV commercials and radio spots because they have broad reach to consumers. You operate social media channels to maintain and grow a relationship with your brand loyal customers. Branded content is how you build the emotional connection that promotes that first trip to the drive thru and assures brand loyal customers that they’ve made the right choice.

Pal’s Sudden Service is a regional burger chain whose mission is to “create delight” among its customers. Pal’s is the darling of the fast food industry because of its sales numbers and speed of service. We shared with Pal’s leadership the opportunities of branded content nearly a decade ago. The result is the long-running “Photo In A Flash” contest airing during newscasts on a TV station within Pal’s store footprint. Consumers send in fun or heartwarming images from their own experience. The emotional images align with the joy and delight of a Pal’s experience. The real win is that consumers generate the content and Pal’s simple shares “delight” through its sponsorship of the crowd sharing experience.

My favorite branded content from our agency’s branded content executions was for a company that makes breading for frying chicken and mix for everything from hushpuppies to cornbread. Through consumer insights, we found that their products were important to brand loyalists for more than just a delicious meal. The products made bringing families together a lot easier. We found the Overton family in Nashville and told a story that we called “Together”. Watch a great example of branded content.

Branded content is only one part of a strategy that cultivates an emotional connection with a brand. It entices new customers and reassures brand loyalists that their values are shared by their brand. It is not a magic potion that will, on its own, build a brand. Advertising, marketing, PR and social all fulfill an important role.

If you see the value of branded content—we are amazing storytellers. Let’s talk.