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    8 min read

    Branded Content Marketing: What Is It and How Does It Work?

    By Ellaine Parsons

    In an oversaturated market, there is a tendency for consumers to feel jaded. It’s like walking down a busy street and having all the store owners claw and tug at you. Things are becoming overly promotional and consumers have grown weary of this. Their ad-blocking preferences perfectly demonstrate their aversion to invasive marketing. It’s difficult to advertise a business when your target audience, by default, doesn’t trust your motives. This is where content branding and creating branded content enter the picture.


    Having consumers experience and enjoy your brand is a bigger sales pitch than traditional advertising. It is an interesting alternative that effectively markets your brand to audiences. What’s more, they’re often too busy enjoying the content that they become oblivious to the marketing strategies at play. Even after revealing the sales technique, your audience can still appreciate its subtle brilliance. This is what branded content marketing is all about, delivering non-salesy stories that immerse audiences, and inevitably, promote your brand. However, before diving deeper, you need to understand what makes a brand. 

    branding content


    What Is a Brand?

    In marketing, a brand is the persona your business embodies. Think about your enterprise as a person. How would you describe them? What traits would they demonstrate? What values and philosophies would they live by, and more importantly, how would others perceive them? These questions help you paint a picture of your brand identity, which is of utmost importance to your business. 


    Building a reputable brand is a vital part of effective marketing. When your target market has a negative impression of your business, it dampens all sales efforts. No matter how solid your content is, consumers will devalue it once they no longer trust the source. As a result, you need to offer a positive brand experience that impresses your audience. 


    With a popular brand at the core of your marketing campaign, your target market is more likely to pay attention to your business offerings. A positive brand experience typically paves the way for well-received branded content. However, it’s important to understand that the relationship between brand and content is mutually beneficial. While your business reputation is the foundation for your branded content, the latter’s quality can either solidify or wreck that foundation. Therefore, your content is only as good as your brand and vice versa. 


    What Is Branded Content Marketing?

    Branded content marketing is a subtle take on cutthroat traditional marketing methods. It seeks to create huge impacts in advertising with as little brand interference as possible. While audiences may think they’re enjoying a separate experience, in reality, they’re subliminally consuming branded content. 


    The Lego Movie franchise is a fine example of brand content marketing. Audiences merely assumed it was for their casual viewing pleasure. While this is the case, it is also true that the movie is an endorsement of Lego. The first movie release was in 2014 and according to Lego Chief Executive Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, it yielded “a fantastic number of results” for the Lego Group. 

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    A similar example is the 2023 Barbie movie. Branded content marketing for this movie was at such a high that consumers immediately associated the color pink with the famous doll. 


    Imagine the demands on parents by their kids after watching a Lego or Barbie movie. This is the point of branded content. It is an ad that doesn’t feel like an ad. The trick is selling to your market in a way that doesn’t make consumers feel like you’re selling them anything. While they assume their desires are organic, you program them to react that way through carefully crafted brand and content strategies. 


    Branded content marketing doesn’t explicitly sell a product or service. Yet, unassumingly, it builds brand awareness in a way that still motivates consumers to patronize your business. Instead of actively selling a product, you make your brand the selling point by showcasing its strengths in content that consumers find relatable. When a brand connects with its audience on a personal level, it typically triggers favorable responses that create a much desired buzz. Once consumers approve of your brand, they will naturally seek its products and services.


    Content Marketing vs. Branded Content 

    The primary way in which content branding differs from content marketing is that the former builds awareness for a brand by associating it with relevant content. Relevance, in this context, is often determined by shared values and ideologies. For Lego, it’s fun and creativity. The Barbie movie, other than banking on young children, also tapped into nostalgia of adults. 


    Content marketing, on the other hand, is an umbrella term for the overall strategy that a business adopts to promote itself through the use of different types of content. Content branding usually falls within the broader scope of content marketing. 

    what is branded content


    Branded Content vs. Product Placement 

    While the two concepts are similar, product placement adopts a more “in-your-face” approach. The whole point of product placement is for you to see the product. It is also overt advertising. An example is the Wilson volleyball that serves as Tom Hanks’ trusty companion in the movie Cast Away. It is also aptly named “Wilson” which further drives the brand into the minds of audiences. 


    Branded content is more subtle. It focuses on the bigger picture by incorporating a brand into the overall theme of the content. Content branding is also typically more powerful since it is relevant to the story as a whole. However, product placement only features products briefly. 


    Types of Branded Content 

    Depending on your business type and needs, content branding offers diverse avenues for reaching your target audience.

    • Blogs and articles. This is perhaps the most popular medium of branded content marketing. There is a wide range of content to write about like opinions, reviews, tutorials, and more. Using the right search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword strategies, content can greatly reflect and impact your brand. If you have a company website, you may incorporate blogs that are relevant to your target audience.  
    • Videos. Themed videos are powerful tools for branded content marketing. Ordinarily, visuals are capable of captivating large audiences and when executed correctly, they have far-reaching effects. More so, this content branding channel offers versatility. From documentaries to animations, you decide the more profitable and befitting route for your business.
    • Visuals for social media. According to Statista, there are about 4.8 billion social media users globally. With over half the world’s population interacting online, marketing your brand on social platforms is now non-negotiable. You can utilize the various content formats on social networks to share personalized experiences with your online audiences. You may also leverage influencer marketing, an industry that’s set be worth $21.1 billion in 2023 according to Influencer Marketing Hub. By promoting your business in their content, digital creators can sway their followers to favor your brand.
    • Podcasts. Although podcasts may not be as popular as other marketing channels on this list, it is a niche market that businesses can still explore. It is becoming increasingly popular with the demand for casual listening. People want to hear their peers speak freely on various issues that shape daily living and podcasts offer them this experience. Asides from creating your own podcast, you can also partner with podcasters on topics related to your brand.

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    Benefits of Branded Content 

    Traditional advertising is no longer as captivating as it used to be. Branded content marketing is loaded with fresh ideas that attract and convert consumers. Incorporating these innovative methods into your marketing strategies will prove invaluable to your business. Here are some of the benefits.


    Increased Target Audience Engagement

    A distinguishing feature of branded content is that it offers value beyond any single product. You essentially invite consumers to experience your brand holistically by showcasing similarities in lifestyle, values, and vision. The emphasis on brand identity showcases your business in a personal and engaging way. It draws in your audience using deep connections that transcend materialism.


    Consumers can interact with your brand as an entity they believe in, not just as a producer of goods and services. It’s like getting to know a person and the commonalities you share. The resulting brand affinity drives better engagement than constantly bombarding consumers with ads. 


    Enhanced Customer Experience

    Overlooking customer experience is where many enterprises miss the mark. The relationship between consumers and businesses should be mutually beneficial. As your business enjoys increased sales, customers also deserve satisfactory brand experiences. 


    With branded marketing, you may create valuable and enjoyable content that makes your brand memorable to consumers. Data from Qualtrics XM Institute reveals that satisfied customers are 94% more likely to recommend a brand. Consequently, the enhanced customer experience that branded content marketing offers promotes consumer loyalty and brand recognition. 

    content marketing vs branded content

    Increased Brand Loyalty

    Consumer loyalty is a constant on every company’s vision board. You don’t just want to attract consumers, you also want to retain them as regular patrons. Branded content marketing offers some of the easiest ways to achieve this through quality engagement and positive brand experience. These fuel consumers’ attachment to your business, making them more likely to choose your brand over the competition. 


    Building trust with your customers inevitably drives sales. According to management consulting firm, Bain & Company, a 5% increase in retention rates could generate an extra 25% profit. 


    Improved Brand Recognition

    Establishing trust and credibility with your target audience is a prerequisite for improving your business’s image. Your brand could become so popular that you become an authority in your industry. Through high-value marketing content, you may showcase your company’s strengths and the qualities you want consumers to find relatable.


    Once your target audience has a consistent image of your brand in mind, you become easily recognizable. The more people resonate with this identity, the louder the brand awareness. Additionally, it positions your business for other perks like greater online visibility and increased website traffic


    How to Effectively Leverage Branded Content Marketing

    There are few aspects that need your consideration when it comes to branded content marketing, and here are ones that can help you achieve your content branding goals.

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    1. Know Your Target Audience


    The bedrock of any content marketing strategy is equipping yourself with enough market knowledge, in this case, knowing your audience. Knowing your target market helps you understand how best to sell your brand. Consider the kind of content that will resonate deeply with consumers. This includes themes, values, social issues, and the like. Having a deep understanding of this helps you create a compelling narrative that sways audiences in your favor. 


    2. Define Your Brand Personality


    Whatever message you choose to communicate with consumers needs a worthy messenger. Your brand persona should embody the ideals that you showcase in your content. This communicates genuineness to consumers who can then feel safe enough to trust your business. When your brand identity contradicts your content, audiences may feel bamboozled. Create a unique brand voice and ensure that the face behind it matches the tone of your branded content. 


    3. Showcase Your Brand

    The goal of branded content marketing is to represent your business with strategic storytelling. While you don’t want to come off as too sales-driven, you also don’t want to obscure your brand. The content should give your business enough visibility to get audiences talking about you. 


    4. Connect With Consumers

    Branded content seeks to connect with audiences on a deeper level. It leverages emotional attachments to build brand affinity. The best-branded content marketing campaigns have mastered how to weave together the facts and emotions your brand evokes. Once you’ve identified the potential touchpoints, brainstorm the most effective strategies for leaving your audience with a positive impression.



    Content branding is an exciting concept to explore within the digital marketing ecosystem. Not only will your target audience heave sighs of relief for its fresh take on advertising, but its less-invasive approach has also proven immensely successful. With advantages like enhanced audience engagement, increased consumer loyalty, and wider brand recognition, content branding has become more rewarding than traditional advertising. If you’re unsure about what it takes to get on the branded content bandwagon, consider partnering with an experienced digital marketing agency.

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