As branded storytelling has become hotter and hotter, how best to integrate the brand into the branded entertainment or branded content comes up as an issue more and more. Questions such as, “how many times do we need to mention the brand“ are pretty darn common. We get it. Brand managers want to be sure that people get the message. It’s their job after all. There’s a reason they’re called “brand managers”.
When you look at the nitty-gritty research as to why people share branded content on social media, it’s about them. The content moved them to feel a specific emotion and they want to share that feeling with others. (I love monkeys with wacky hair and so will you!) An interesting recent study showed that people share content most on social media when it elicits the emotions of awe, laughter and amusement plus anything that lets the person define themselves to someone else, or when they’re being narcissistic. Whatever the emotion is, it’s emotion that comes from an authentic place.
To get to that feeling, two things must be balanced – authenticity and brand. People are always sniffing out whether something is authentic, but also they know that very little in life is free. When they choose to watch that broadcast brand piece, or click on that video, they know there’s going to be a trade off for a brand message. They just don’t want that brand message to get in the way of their entertainment.
What can provide comfort is the fact that branded content works when done well. My husband will pass up other gas stations to get to a Shell because of Shell’s long affiliation with one of his passions, Ferrari’s Formula One race team. Even though he creates branded entertainment every day, he has made an emotional association that’s meaningful between Shell and his favorite team and sport. Who knows, it may be because of this great piece. I still talk about the piece from West Jet last Christmas when they gave holiday presents to their passengers, which has racked up 35 million views so far. I know that they did it to promote the brand, but I love the sentiment.
When we meet with a client, we determine a brand’s key attributes and organically create the story around those feelings and that tone. Or as one client said, “Don’t make it feel icky.” They’re right. Who wants to share icky?
Liz Denning is Owner of Gamma Blast, a media production company that creates branded content that entertains, is shareable and effective.