Brand communication today is truly evolving from being a linear, monologue-ish ‘dished in your face’ phenomenon to a subtle, two-way communication tacitly acknowledging the respect for a consumer’s time and space. Screaming TVCs, bold print adverts touting the ‘est’ syndrome (biggest, widest, flattest, thinnest, et al) are gradually giving way to communication formats that are easy, engaging, immersive and built around compelling conversation hooks. Brand communication today is travelling from traditional advertising to new age languid and charming storytelling.
Intrusive to immersive
Like humans, brands have a story to tell. If the story can be inspirational, entertaining and engaging, one has an audience for keeps. This is where modern day branded content steps in. Unlike traditional advertising, branded content is subtle, conversational, rooted in some strong life beliefs — it works superbly if it is rooted to a cause, and capable of taking one on a transformative journey. Branded content is format agnostic. From being a short story, music video, web series, print execution to a serial documentary — the scope is far and wide. All that it needed is a powerful idea and the execution expertise of storytelling that touches a raw nerve somewhere.
Consumer facing categories are showing a high affinity for leveraging branded content. Occasions such as Mother’s Day, Friendship’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Chocolate Day, etc are being tapped aggressively to weave in a brand conversation. Who can forget the topicality of Amul’s communication or Zomato’s recent tongue-in-cheek communication to dominate hunger times and food delivery? I also recall Vogue raising the bar on women empowerment through the #VogueEmpower initiative.
Though one doesn’t have a formal size of the branded content industry, it is estimated to account for nearly 8-10% of media budgets. Since the operating base is small, the growth in this category is estimated to be upwards of 150%.
Working on branded content has given me the following residual discoveries:
*There is no discounting the power of a potent idea
* The idea needs to have strong evidence of execution on ground
*Be truthful and authentic to all actions
* Get a collaborative ecosystem going for the campaign
*Build a content narrative which is fluid, rooted to the subject and also touches upon adjacent areas
*Showcase actual stories built on empathy and credibility
*It’s not always advisable to be serious — a touch of fun and gamification adds significantly to the format
*The longer the campaign, the bigger the challenge; so ample pause points are needed for reflection, analysis and course correction
*Lastly, it adds substantially to recall, consideration and image scores
The next time when one needs to execute a brand campaign, do take a measured assessment of branded content creation. After all, 30 seconders and quarter pages in today’s digital world require the assistance of authentic content that’s rooted in the DNA of the brand but is also subtle, engaging and entertaining.
The author is consultant — marketing, DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance