7 Examples of Winning Branded Content Strategies

Picture of Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

branded content

Branded content is like that friend who tells you a story so engaging that you hardly notice they’re actually recommending something. It’s the clever twist in the world of marketing where companies talk with us, not at us.

Gone are the days when ads were just loud and brash interruptions; today, it’s all about pulling up a chair and sharing an experience that sticks.

Imagine this: instead of an ad simply showing off a product’s features, we get a mini-documentary on how it’s crafted or maybe even find ourselves lost in an interactive game that subtly ties back to the brand. That’s branded content for you – it doesn’t push products into our hands but rather invites us to see what life could be like with them.

As we dive into this topic together, think less about billboards and more about blog posts that teach you something new or videos that make your sides split from laughter — all courtesy of brands playing the long game to win your heart before ever asking for your wallet.

Ready to see how storytelling can build bridges between businesses and people? Let’s take a closer look at how savvy brands are crafting messages we actually want to hear — and why we might just listen.

Table Of Contents:

Branded Content and Its Impact on Marketing

Branded content turns the spotlight from hard-sell tactics to a more subtle form of storytelling.

It’s not just about promoting products; it’s about weaving brand values into narratives that strike a chord with audiences.

The difference is stark when compared to traditional advertising, which often interrupts rather than engages.

The Evolution from Conventional Ads to Brand Storytelling

Gone are the days when banner ads reigned supreme in marketing strategies.

We now live in an era where brands like Red Bull are pulling off supersonic freefalls to capture our imaginations far beyond what any product placement could achieve.

This shift underscores a broader trend: successful branded content doesn’t shout its presence — it earns attention by adding value through engaging stories told across social media and other platforms.

Case Studies: 7 Examples of Branded Content

Here are seven examples of branded content done right.

Dove

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign redefined beauty standards and struck an emotional chord. They showcased real women, in all their diversity, challenging the narrow definitions of beauty peddled by traditional advertising. This move wasn’t just brave; it was a strategic genius that fostered deep connections with its target market and went beyond mere product placement to tell a story we could all see ourselves in.

Red Bull

Felix Baumgartner’s leap from the stratosphere wasn’t just a supersonic freefall; it was Red Bull branding rocketing into history books. By sponsoring this death-defying stunt, they didn’t have to promote products directly — Felix did it for them, wearing the logo as he broke sound barriers both literal and metaphorical. It showed us that branded content can be more gripping than any banner ad when you let brand values take center stage.

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie turned plastic bricks into blockbuster gold while doubling as one of the most successful branded content campaigns ever conceived. The film wove together humor and heart with product placement so seamlessly it felt like part of the fun — not an interruption.

Apple TV+

When Apple launched its TV service in 2019, it did not go the usual high-profile advertising route. Instead, it created The Morning Show — a show about a talk show that tackled the daily struggles in a modern workplace while seamlessly integrating the latest Apple products into each episode.

Birkenstock

Birkenstocks may not be the most aesthetically pleasing footwear, but their comfort and durability have earned them a loyal customer base worldwide. But have you ever wondered why they look the way they do? The brand partnered with The New York Times to create a three-part documentary called ‘Ugly for a Reason‘ that explores this very question. Their unique storytelling approach included expert insights from renowned scientists and foot health specialists, interactive graphics, and real-life stories from dedicated customers aimed at educating people about foot health and promoting sustainability.

Subaru

The Subaru #meetanowner campaign is a prime example of leveraging branded content to enhance brand image. In an innovative move, the company collaborated with influential customers to help promote its brand. The theme was clear: Subaru’s vehicles are designed for those with adventurous spirits. By featuring actual customers — adventure enthusiasts and thrill-seekers — the impact of this marketing strategy was significantly amplified.

Cisco

Cisco faced the daunting task of humanizing its brand in an industry often perceived as impersonal and detached from everyday life. To overcome this challenge, Cisco created the #WeAreCisco campaign to showcase the personal experiences of its employees worldwide. One such story came from a pregnant employee who highlighted that Cisco provides separate parking spots for expectant mothers by posting a picture alongside another pregnant colleague – illustrating that many people benefit from this thoughtful gesture. This allowed potential customers and stakeholders to see behind the scenes at Cisco through authentic narratives.

If there’s one lesson entrepreneurs can take away from these seven examples, it’s that branded content has immense potential if done right. It’s not just about selling products or services but telling a story that resonates with your audience and subtly integrates your brand into the narrative.

Branded content creation has been proven effective as emotions play a significant role in connecting us deeper with what we watch or read online.

Remember this mantra: tell, don’t sell.

Create a story so captivating that your audience won’t even realize they’re being marketed to until they’re fully immersed in your world.

Benefits of Branded Content Marketing

There are four reasons why you should consider publishing branded content:

1. Cut Through Ad Fatigue

Branded content is designed to deliver interesting information that resonates with the audience. It offers value beyond traditional advertisements by focusing on relevant stories and narratives rather than direct sales pitches. This approach makes branded content more engaging and less likely to cause ad fatigue among consumers.

2. Strengthen Brand Credibility

A well-executed branded content strategy helps build credibility for your brand over time. By providing unique, valuable content without directly pushing for a sale, you establish an image of authority and trustworthiness in your industry.

3. Deepen Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty plays a crucial role in long-term business success. While attracting new customers is always important, retaining existing ones often leads to higher profitability in the long run.

Branded content reinforces customer loyalty by creating meaningful connections between consumers and brands through shared values or experiences.

4. Increase Sales

The power of branded content extends beyond just engagement — it also has significant potential for driving sales. While branded content may not directly attempt to make a sale, it creates an environment conducive to sales by building a loyal customer base and fostering positive word-of-mouth. A strong campaign can lead to increased sales through the power of highly shareable content.

By leveraging these benefits of branded content marketing, you can grow your brand’s online presence effectively and sustainably.

Influencer Marketing and User-Generated Content

When it comes to branded content, nothing beats the authentic stories influencers can tell about your brand and it is worth mentioning that Influencer marketing is projected to reach $21.1 billion. These creatives bring a human touch that banner ads simply can’t match. They’re not just promoting products; they’re breathing life into them.

Influencer-generated content serves as a bridge between brands and their target market. When you collaborate with influencers to create branded content, you tap into their loyal following — an audience that trusts their recommendations like advice from a friend.

The magic of influencer collaborations often lies in the shared values between the brand and its chosen messenger. Take Red Bull’s supersonic freefall stunt with Felix Baumgartner for example — this was storytelling on steroids. It captured people’s attention because it perfectly aligned with what Red Bull stands for: extreme adventure and pushing limits.

Finding the right influencer is key — they should echo your brand’s values while also being able to speak directly to your ideal customer. But remember, this isn’t traditional advertising; subtlety here is everything. Your product placement needs to feel natural within the story told by the influencer.

User-generated content (UGC) adds another layer of authenticity to your campaign — you’re showcasing real people who love your products without any filter or script guiding them along. By incorporating UGC into your marketing strategy, you invite customers themselves to become part of creating successful branded stories around your offerings — a powerful endorsement indeed.

Multimedia Integration in Branded Campaigns

When it comes to creating branded content that sticks, video has emerged as a front-runner.

We’ve seen brands like Red Bull take storytelling to new heights with feats such as the supersonic freefall — more than just an event, it was a narrative unfolding before our eyes.

This approach isn’t confined to adrenaline-pumping stunts; any brand can create engaging multimedia narratives.

Think of your last scroll through social media. What caught your eye?

Odds are, it was a video. They’re everywhere because they work.

Videos convey emotions and messages quickly, making them perfect for sharing brand stories and values.

Different Forms of Branded Content

A single medium is no longer enough. A blend of videos, blogs, infographics, and podcasts helps deliver your message across different platforms.

The Lego Movie wasn’t just entertainment; it embodied the creativity central to the brand’s ethos while also being one big piece of branded content appealing across ages and interests.

Future Trends Shaping Branded Content Creation

The rise of AI and machine learning has brands buzzing about hyper-personalization. Imagine content that molds itself to your preferences like a well-fitted glove — this technology promises just that.

The future could see stories so aligned with individual tastes that they feel handcrafted for each viewer.

We’re also seeing personalization stretch its legs in branded content. Brands will likely give you the reins to tweak elements within a campaign — think choose-your-own-adventure but for marketing narratives.

With smart AI technologies, brands can sift through mountains of data to understand exactly what makes their audience tick — and serve up the most engaging experiences possible as a result.

This tailored approach means businesses can get more mileage from every piece of media content they create or influencer content they sponsor, leading not only to better engagement but even direct sales without feeling pushy or out of place.

What’s Your Brand Story?

Branded content is more than just a marketing fad. It’s a powerful way to connect with audiences on a level that goes beyond the traditional ‘buy now’ call to action. By weaving your messages into stories and experiences that resonate with your audience, you’re not only capturing their attention but keeping them hooked.

Branded content doesn’t interrupt; instead, it fits snugly into our lives — sometimes so seamlessly that we don’t even notice the transition from viewer to customer.

This is how businesses are building relationships — one story at a time.

It’s time to build your blog empire.

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with gratitude,

Julia

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