Branded Content or How to Highlight a Brand in the Background

Laura Montells
11 July, 2017

Branded Content is Trendy Now

It seems that ‘branded content’ is everywhere nowadays: in multinational’s millionaire campaigns on the internet, the most viral ads and also in prestigious prizes created especially for this category. However, this innovative and recent way to do marketing is evasive of labels and definitions. Despite being in everybody’s mouth, there are few that agree on one theoretical definition.

In any case, it’s clear that with a good Branded Content Strategy one can boost a brand and have a better recognition that will help improve engagement and increase sales in an indirect way.

What is Branded Content?

Oxford Brookes University and Ipsos MORI came up with the following branded content definition: “Branded Content is content fully or partly funded by a Brand which promotes the Brand’s values and provides something of value to audiences – often by entertaining, informing and/or educating.” It seems a simple concept, right? Well, things will become a bit more complicated.

The Traditional advertising  is focused on finding the benefits, advantages and peculiarities of a specific product and to then find a creative way of promoting it. On the contrary, Branded Content Marketing uses the opposite process. In fact, it’s about telling a person’s story, trying to find the emotional connection with the public. And then, finding a creative way of introducing the brand in this story.

Any image, content, video, app or game can be considered Branded Content as far as the brand occupies a secondary place. You probably know by now that we love ‘examples’ so let’s see some branded content examples:

✅ A healthy diet guide that promotes a chocolate company without trying to sell their product.

✅ An educational guide about SEO/ Marketing/ Copywriting/ Handcraft. Computer content that despite being provided by the brand, is not trying to sell its services in any moment.

✅ A short film or YouTube video telling an entertaining story, always leaving the brand in a secondary place. You can watch the following video about Melbourne Metro. This would be a clear example of Branded Content.



✅ An app or online game that entertains users without involving the brand or its products (or they’re shown in the background). Coming back to the previous example, “Dumb Ways to Die” wasn’t only a video or story, apart from that, Melbourne Metro developed an app where you can play with the same cartoon characters.

Once the Branded Content is created, it’s possible to invest in advertising for the examples that we just used to help make them viral to reach a larger audience. The brand will remain in a secondary place despite investing in promoting these actions.


What is Not Branded Content

In general, and to clear up matters, Branded Content is not all paid publications or direct ads about a brand or product in any of the available platforms. Branded Content is neither:

✅ Product Placement: The appearance of a product in movies, photographs or other media. For example, when you’re watching a movie and see someone enjoying a Budweiser. Remember that this is product placement or embedded marketing but it’s not Branded Content.

✅ Publicity or appearance in media without paying: Try to find something noticeable that can be made by a company or brand to appear in the media. For example, creating solidary or free events, participating in interviews about a topic where the brand can share its expertise, sharing anecdotes or curious facts.

✅ Infomercial or financed post: In these types of ads, the publicity is clear, when the media or a blog broadcast them, the words “infomercial” or “financed post” must be displayed to make the audience aware of the intention of the content. Obviously, this is not Branded Content.

✅ Ads: In radio, banners, at points of sale, brochures, etc.


In the end, it’s about common sense and avoiding published content that our followers will never share with their friends or in social networks. In short, brands should leave behind the old marketing techniques and start thinking more about the average public. This can be translated as knowing how to identify our buyer persona through their interests instead of overwhelming them with impersonalized content of none or little interest for them.


Branded Content and Influencers

Another technique that can add value to your content is the collaboration with influencers or social media stars. But, what can this type of contribution offer you? Benefits are considerable. Firstly, you will obtain a better visibility thanks to the audience that comes with an influencer and secondly, it can be cheaper than investing on TV commercials.


Keys to Apply to a Branded Content Marketing Strategy

Once we have clarified what branded content is and is not, there are some keys to consider so you can start applying this technique to your Marketing and create viral stories.

Discover Which Type of Content Your Clients Share

When you’re programming your content, consider what your followers normally share.

To find out, you can use basic tools of searching to learn which topics are more popular within the industry and also, what’s trending amongst the influencers of your sector. You can start building a good relationship with them, this way you’ll benefit your business, especially if social media is not one of your strengths or the number of followers is far from your ideal. Besides, if you think that your market niche is not very attractive, it’s the moment to work a bit harder to improve it or try to open new horizons.


Avoid More Traditional call-to-action

Although in certain circumstances this might work, the more traditional call-to-action is almost a natural enemy of branded content. The main reason lies in the use of the language of selling, coming from the classical concept of “BUY NOW or you’ll regret”. An idea that you should stay away from.


Focus on Innovating

The first questions you should ask yourself when you’re analyzing your content in an objective way should be: is your content educational, useful and entertaining or is it simply promoting my product? If the answer is yes to the second question, then you have a lot of work ahead.

Your content doesn’t have to be strictly linked to your industry or sector. Instead, you should focus on your clients’ interests and passions and try to mix different formats within the same campaign. Some variety in the format will be more appealing than a traditional TV commercial.


Make Sure You Use The Right Tone

Some good advice is to avoid to the extent possible the typical call-to-action language, expressions such as: “buy now” or “ask for a great deal” Changed from budget, not sure that makes sense in english.This is probably the most certain way to scare your potential clients away.

The use of the right tone is crucial. Stay away from an excessive corporative language typical in the traditional marketing. Try a more natural tone instead. In a few words, don’t insult the intelligence of your potential client with proposals that are too obvious. People prefer having access to relevant content and run away from any campaign that smells of commercial advertising.


Brevity Could Become Your Best Friend (but not always)

Traditionally, TV commercials lasted an average of 30 seconds. This duration, while apparently brief, has been replaced by the mass use of platforms like Vine, where the most popular videos tell a story in few seconds. However, this is not a global trend.

Other formats like YouTube (a leading platform in branded content) has proved that quality doesn’t understand chronometers. The most popular videos are those with the ability to emotionally connect with users, getting an empathetic response. These videos are the ones that obtain more shares independent of their duration.


As you can see, branded content marketing is an innovative field with vague limits and great complexity. However, it’s also a revolutionary trend that better connects with modern times and with the average consumer, offering an alternative to the most traditional advertising techniques. Jump from the standard way of promotion to more original content.

So, did you get a clear idea about what branded content is and is not? We’d love to hear your ideas and if you know of a cool Branded Content example, please share it with us!

Laura Montells


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