There are a lot of different types of marketing content that brands and marketers use to connect with their target audiences. However, nothing is as potent as branded content when it comes to forming lasting connections with your audience.
Unlike advertising, branded content seems more authentic and is therefore much better received by consumers. And, because it looks less promotional, people can connect with this type of content more than they can with an advertisement.
However, you do have to keep in mind that branded content should have a clear and distinct brand voice that reflects your brand values. It should also be able to tell your brand story in an engaging way to form a connection with your audience.
Creating branded content is not as easy as it seems and not everyone can do it well. Therefore, we have curated a list of some of the best examples of branded content by brands that have nailed it.
Here are eight examples of branded content from brands that know how to do it right. So, read on for inspiration.
8 Examples of Branded Content Done Really Well:
Type of Content - User-generated content for social media
What They Did Right - Strong brand voice and cause-based marketing
Dove is a brand that is well-known for creating really successful branded content. Dove has maintained a very strong and clear brand voice over the years, which revolves around shattering beauty stereotypes. All of their branded content, as well as advertisements, maintain that brand voice consistently.
Their recent #showus campaign also carried the same brand voice. As part of this campaign, the company called out to women who feel they are different but proud of it and asked them to share their stories. They received several thousand pictures and videos of women telling their stories of what makes them unique and different.
The company then made YouTube videos that compiled several such stories of women from different walks of life. The company’s Instagram posts showed pictures of these women along with their stories. Here is one such video that got a very high engagement rate.
This is a cause that many women can relate to because everyone wants to feel loved and accepted for their uniqueness. That, combined with the use of user-generated content lends it an air of authenticity and relatability that is rare. This is why it is one of the best branded content examples of 2019, so far.
Type of Content - Social media content
What They Did Right - Leveraged employee advocacy
Cisco is a technology conglomerate and the biggest challenge for such companies is to humanise their brands. For a big technology company to be able to establish a brand image that they care for people is a challenge.
Cisco took that challenge and used branded content to improve their brand image and establish themselves as a brand that cares. They asked some of their employees from around the globe to share their stories of working with the company in a relatable manner.
The company’s employees took it upon themselves to post really relatable social media posts telling how the company takes care of their employees. They posted stories from their day-to-day work environments and the facilities or benefits that Cisco provides to make employees’ lives better.
This effort from employees helped people understand that this technology giant is a brand that cares.
In one such post, the company’s employee, Ileana, posted about one of the benefits that the company provides for pregnant women. It highlighted that they have separate parking spots for pregnant women. She posted a picture with another pregnant employee, which shows that it benefits many people.
The employee-generated content had just the right amount of emotion, relatability, and facts to make it to our list of branded content done right. What’s more, is that the brand created a campaign-specific hashtag #wearecisco to further promote the campaign and track all of the posts in one place.
Type of Content - Social media content
What They Did Right - Using a popular trend to target their audience
Tinder’s #menprovement campaign is one of the best examples of branded content done well as it hit the intended audience in the perfect way. The campaign used two elements of good marketing and made them work hand-in-hand.
First, they knew and understood their target audience (women) and kept their messaging on-point to target only them. Second, they leveraged a popular social media trend—memes—and used them to deliver the message in a humorous way.
As part of the campaign, Tinder collaborated with creators to make a series of Instagram posts and videos featuring memes and humour. The basic theme was to show technical advancements that could be used to advance or improve men.
The messaging was written so that every woman could relate to it in some way. And, the addition of humour ensured that people took it lightly and didn’t get offended. After all, Tinder also caters to men even if this campaign was targeted at women.
Here is one such post in which they collaborated with the creator, @mytherapistsays. The post got over 355K views. This is just one of a series of posts, and they all received similar levels of engagement.
Another thing that they did right with this campaign was to create and use a campaign-specific hashtag. The campaign got a lot of visibility on Instagram and was one of the most popular social media campaigns of 2017.
Type of Content - Social media content
What They Did Right - Turned customers into brand advocates
Subaru’s #meetanowner campaign is a brilliant example of branded content aimed at improving brand image. Subaru is a high-end automobile brand that is known for their SUVs and all-terrain transporters.
The brand looked for people within their customer base to find those with influence. Subaru then collaborated with some of those people to create social media posts of them with their Subaru vehicles.
Their influencer content revolved around the theme that the vehicles are meant for adventure lovers and are aimed at adventure enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. This combined with the fact that these were actual Subaru customers amplified the effect of this marketing strategy.
Here is one such post by a Subaru owner and his BRAT vehicle. The owner actually put his vehicle on display and met people who were interested in seeing it.
Apart from this, the brand also co-created YouTube videos with some customers showing them performing stunts. This further helped enhance the brand’s image as a brand preferred by adventure lovers.
This is a good example of branded content that uses existing customers as brand advocates to establish a particular brand image. Moreover, seeing adventure enthusiasts with their Subaru cars also provides social proof and makes other adventure-lovers want to buy the vehicles.
5. Red Bull
Type of Content - Videos
What They Did Right - Made branded content look like native, non-promotional video content
Red Bull has one of the best video marketing strategies and that has helped them maintain a clear and strong brand image. Being an energy drink brand, Red Bull has long associated their products with adventure and sports.
They have formed and maintained the brand association by creating a series of thrilling videos of people performing stunts or adventure sports. Their YouTube channel is filled with such videos that are in no way promotional and just look like any other adventure video.
Even though they are a consumer products brand, Red Bull is able to run a successful YouTube channel featuring adventure videos and they have 8.7 million subscribers. This is far from any obvious marketing strategy and is more subtle and effective.
Here is an example of one such video from Red Bull and a good example of branded content done well. This reinforces Red Bull’s image as an energy drink preferred by adventure lovers and thrill-seekers.
6. Apple TV+
Type of content – Self-produced TV show
What They Did Right – Created a high-quality show about a talk show that leveraged word-of-mouth marketing
Apple is known for running commercials and print ads to market its products. However, it chose a different route with the launch of its new service, Apple TV+, in 2019.
Instead of publishing ads to drum up interest, Apple created its own show about a talk show (and the ups and downs of the hosts) instead called The Morning Show. Featuring a stellar cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Billy Crudup, and Steve Carell, The Morning Show tackles the struggles of the modern workplace and what goes on behind the scenes of your favorite, well, morning TV shows, all while being able to seamlessly integrate Apple products and show how they fit into our daily lives.
In fact, the show was so good that it bagged 11 Emmy awards and nominations.
Type of content – Three-part documentary
What They Did Right – Used effective storytelling to highlight the purpose behind the brand’s “ugly” look
Birkenstocks aren’t exactly the world’s prettiest pair of sandals but after you break in a new pair, you may start to feel like you won’t be using any other sandal—or shoe—ever again. But why does Birkenstock footwear look the way it does?
Partnering with The New York Times, Birkenstock created a three-part documentary that sheds some much-needed light on the human foot, why Birkenstocks look a certain way, and why that could be a good thing not only for the wearers but also the planet.
In Ugly for a Reason, the brand and the NYT have come up with what they dubbed a “journalistic investigation into the foot” and foot health. The campaign was bolstered by interactive graphics, input from subject-matter experts and renowned scientists, and real-life stories of people who have worn Birkenstocks and loved them.
The first episode premiered on July 1, 2022, while the second and third episode aired on August 18, 2022 and September 21, 2022, respectively.
8. Zelle and Vox Media
Type of content – Explainer series (website + videos + quizzes)
What They Did Right – The campaign puts a spin on information dissemination and connects the brand to a cause that’s relevant to its field and users
As our world becomes more digitally connected, scams and cases of financial fraud have been multiplying left and right. They’ve also become more sophisticated. We think that we’ve gotten so good at spotting scams, but sometimes, we still fall prey to such elaborate schemes.
US Federal Trade Commission data shows that it received fraud reports from almost 3 million people and that consumers are losing close to $6 billion to fraud in 2021 alone. That’s 70% more compared to 2020’s figures.
How can today’s consumers avoid becoming victims? What are brands doing to help protect their clients? Working together with Vox Media, Zelle, a digital payments network, has put out an explainer series entitled The Science Behind Scams. It delves into the common tactics employed by scammers and the reasons why some scams are very effective.
It makes use of eye-catching graphics, short and easy-to-digest bits of information, short-form videos that explain the psychology behind common scams like merchandise scams and romance scams, practical tips, podcasts, and even a quiz that tells you if you’re able to spot a scam.
The campaign was so impactful and timely that it helped land Zelle as one of the finalists for the 2022 Content Marketing Awards (Best B2C Branded Content Campaign).
These are some of the best examples of branded content that can inspire you to create branded content for your business. These brands have managed to find the perfect mix of marketing tactics to make their branded content engaging and relatable.
You can use this post not by copying the content strategies above but by understanding why these branded content examples work and what makes these so potent. So, review these case studies and see which elements of their branded content strategies you can use for your business.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is branded content?
Branded content refers to published media that aims to elicit an emotional response from your target audience. Whether it’s a short video or a well-executed stunt, branded content gives brands the opportunity to tell their stories and highlight their values, culture, vision, and mission. Given its versatility, you can use branded content to build and nurture brand awareness, increase engagement, expand your reach, or introduce your brand to a new audience segment.
How Is It Different From Traditional Marketing?
With branded content, brands are doing away with traditional advertising methods (bye, banner ads). Also, it doesn’t overtly focus on showcasing or talking about a brand’s products or services. Instead, it highlights the story behind the brand, its culture, and values. Plus, unlike traditional ads or marketing methods, branded content isn’t really viewed as something invasive. It’s content that consumers willingly engage with.
How can branded content help businesses?
Branded content is a strategy that can benefit both brands and consumers. Brands get to tell a compelling story that can drive word-of-mouth referrals and strengthen customer loyalty. Consumers can get personalized content or experiences while getting to learn more about their favorite brands.
What other examples are there of branded content done really well?
Some notable examples of branded content done well include:
- Coca-Cola - #ShareaCoke campaign
- GQ (with Goldman Sachs) – My First Million YouTube video series
- Red Bull – Skydiving from Space
- LEGO – The LEGO Movie
- Dove – “Real Beauty” campaign