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Branded Content: Where entertainment meets advertising

Blog Post Author – Kirsty
9th July 2019
branded content

This blog was written by Diana Nadim

The way we see it, branded content seems to be the apex of branding and advertising, since it targets human emotions in a very slick and often very artsy manner. It challenges the principles of content creation as we know it. It tends to go the extra mile and tap into storytelling.

If we were to look for a definition of branded content, we would find out that it’s just content that is openly produced by a particular advertiser. However, due to this, transparent funding advertisers need to create impressive content that strikes many emotional chords with their audience.

The roots

While the concept does appear as modern, its first iterations can be traced back to the early 40s. Throughout the last century, businesses have been looking into intricate ways of creating content that is recognizable and has a substantial emotional impact.

Big companies like Proctor&Gamble, Dove, Colgate-Palmolive have used branded content for decades, and it helps them to keep leading positions in the market. Probably, you have watched soap operas, such as Guiding Light and As the World Turns that was popular on TV more than five decades ago. That was a pure branded content created by Proctor&Gamble.

Branded content in today’s world

Times have changed, and today, every small company has all the resources necessary to create and distribute branded content. In 2019, you don’t need to broadcast your branded video on TV. You can simply upload it to YouTube.

What do modern companies do to succeed in the market? They create share-worthy branded content and make it go viral on social media.

Take it into account when building your content marketing strategy. If you know what content your audience finds interesting and valuable, that’s great. But you should also know what exact type of content your audience prefers to share on social media.

The essential components of branded content

The essential aspect of branded content is that the story comes first, and the advertisement is always second. Whether you write a sponsored article or shot a branded video, you should draw the audience’s attention to real people’s story and topical issues, not to your products.

Secondly, the content needs to have a strong emotional impact on the target audience. If your video makes people cry or laugh, it means that you have created good branded content. If your video leaves people indifferent, it means that you have done everything wrong.

Your task is to make people emotionally attached to your brand. Your content has to make people care. Branded content must evoke one of the following emotions:

  • Sadness
  • Happiness
  • Fear or surprise
  • Anger or disgust

Great examples of branded content

Now let’s consider three outstanding examples of branded content created by world famous companies. Feel free to use these examples for inspiration when crafting your content marketing strategy.

Airbnb’s article on Fatherly

The article, This Photographer Proves a Quick Family Getaway Can Become an Uncharted Adventure, is an excellent example of branded content. It was created by Airbnb and published on Fatherly, a popular digital platform for dads.

This platform helped Airbnb to reach its target audience – families who travel with children. The article encourages parents to appreciate every moment they spend together with their kids and travel more to create sweet memories. Also, this post “gently reminds” readers that they can use Airbnb to find a perfect apartment for a family getaway.

Key components of branded content

  • Who is the main character in the story? A father of two kids, a happily married man.
  • What is this story all about? It tells details about one perfect family getaway.
  • What kind of emotions does this article evoke? Happiness.

Umeå Energy’s Lag Experiment

Pretty often, companies base their branded content on social and scientific experiments. Here is an example of how it works.

Umea Energy, a fiber broadband provider, conducted an interesting experiment. The company asked four volunteers to wear a virtual reality headset during the day and try to perform their daily activities. The trick was that the headset showed everything the participant sees, but with three seconds delay.

Umea Energy videotaped the experiment and created a 3-minute YouTube video. The video demonstrates that volunteers were not able to perform even the simplest tasks. The message of the company is the following: “You wouldn’t accept lag in the real world, so why do it online?”

Key components of branded content

  • Who are the main characters in the story? Four people who agreed to participate in the experiment.
  • What does this story show us? It shows the difficulties that people experience in real life when seeing everything with three seconds delay.
  • What kind of emotions does this video evoke? Surprise.

Samsung’s Hearing Colors Short Film

If you want to grab the attention of the wide audience, write an interesting story about a unique person. And then your branded content will go viral online.

Samsung created a short film Hearing Colors to share the unique, shocking life story of Neil Harbisson who has achromatopsia. Neil convinced the doctors to implant an antenna into the back of his head to get the ability to hear colors.

In the video, the young man reveals how his life has changed, how he hears the colors, and how he perceives the surrounding world. Samsung creates branded content like this to show people how advanced technologies can change the lives of people with health issues.

Key components of branded content

  • Who is the main character in the story? Neil Harbisson, a young man with achromatopsia.
  • What does this story show us? One day of Neil’s life in the monochrome world.
  • What kind of emotions does this video evoke? Surprise.

Why Branded Content Works Better

Consumers become desensitized to ads. They have been conditioned to react less and less. At the same time, they have gotten more interested in the valuable, relevant content.

For this reason, modern companies should focus on branded content production rather than ad campaigns creation. Also, it is worth mentioning that businesses should pay attention to content quality. It’s necessary to use such tools as Grammarly, TrustMyPaper, and Hemingway Editor to control the quality of textual content.


Companies that create branded content have more chances to succeed in the long run. So if you want your business to remain profitable for years, you should make people emotionally attached to your brand. Create articles, videos, podcasts, and other branded content to make people fall in love with your brand.  

Diana Nadim is a writer and editor who has a Master degree in Marketing. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Diana also runs her own 3to5Marketing blog. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people. Follow her on Twitter.

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