Gear Seven › What is Branded Content Anyway?

Image from branded content piece G7 did for Zillow in Nashville, TN

What is Branded Content Anyway?

Branded Content. What is it? Does it work? For starters, there is a lot of confusion about what the phrase “branded content” is actually referring to. In fact, almost anyone you ask will give you a different definition. Take advertising executive PJ Pereira, who will tell you that branded content is “something that is worth the viewer’s time.” While this may be true, it still feels awfully vague. Other ad executives might tell you that branded content is just a subtle form of advertising, but that isn’t quite specific enough either. Branded Content is about real life in connection with a brand. It is about business fitting into the life of the consumer, because they genuinely want it there. At Gear Seven we are constantly creating compelling videos with passionate people who have a story to tell. Our work with these individuals has reshaped and informed our definition of advertisement. Here‘s how we’ve learned to define branded content:

Branded Content is a creative advertising approach that integrates what is true about real life into marketing efforts, usually through storytelling, with the hope that the consumer will invite the brand into their life.

In other words, branded content is all about story and subtleties. People love story. It is a medium that everyone is comfortable with and when it’s done well, it is captivating. A video of a working class entrepreneur talking about his life and his work feels authentic and unassuming. This authenticity is vital to the success of a branded content video. If the authenticity is achieved, then, to the viewer, it won’t feel like an ad when they see the name of the brand who sponsored the video placed and hinted at throughout the story. Authenticity of story might be the difference between a potential client watching the whole two-minute video or clicking the skip button after five seconds.

This subtlety is achieved masterfully in a recent advertisement from a West Elm branch in Nashville, TN. The video follows the story of a local carpenter who has started a custom furniture company at his family farm. He is hard-working, creative, and has even had a fair amount of acclaim locally. After the video has detailed this carpenter’s story, the video informs the viewer where they can buy this local craftsman’s work: West Elm Nashville. And just like that, West Elm has smoothly delivered their message of chic furniture with local consciousness through a featured partnership with a local craftsman and well shot video.

Of course, sometimes the customer is going to be searching for a solid brand that they can assimilate into their lives out of need. The housing search engine Zillow has noticed this trend in their business and has developed branded content with Gear Seven for their new Apple TV app with the intent of catering to these potential clients. Their video centers on a house flipper, a target market for Zillow, and their experience flipping a house that they happened to find through Zillow.com. It is made obvious from the beginning that this is an advertisement for Zillow, but the company is not name dropped in the video excessively and their logo is not plastered anywhere but the introduction and conclusion. The core of this branded content is the house flipper: her story, her project, and how she did it with Zillow.

At the end of the day, people are drawn to stories in a powerfully irresistible way. Through branded content, story can subtly be associated with a specific brand through a well-done, authentic presentation. Branded content is not about a company forcing it’s way into a customer’s life, but about presenting itself in such a way that the customer wants to invite them in.

Written by David Swick

Originally published at gearseven.tv on April 13, 2016.