8 Top Tips on how to make Awesome Branded Content

In our last blog we wisely concluded that content is something that gives your audience what they want; it’s relevant, compelling, timely and valued knowledge or entertainment. Stuff they choose to watch because it inspires them or gives them satisfaction – contentment even.

And that’s why filmmakers are perfectly suited to making great branded content, because that’s what films are made to do; to tell stories, to educate, inspire and entertain. But what does it means in terms of production? Fear not – here’s some tips brought to you still bloody and breathing form the frontline of production.

And if you want to go further get in touch about our ABC workshop (Awesome Branded Content, of course) where we get together and brainstorm ideas around your customers’ content needs, to help make your campaign messages and your budgets go further.

1. THINK CONTENT FROM THE START

Think content from the campaign’s inception. A re-edit of the TV ad or a behind the scenes doesn’t really cut it. Reverse engineering mostly makes for spluttering junk.

What is the idea at the heart of the campaign? What are the different ways the story could play out? With forward planning, how can we orchestrate production to capture content for different uses at the same time? Do your production team have a clear idea of when and which channels will be used and how interconnected the content needs to be?

Take the awesome THIS GIRL CAN campaign. They featured the same ladies in their TV ad, expanded on it their 90 sec online film, and deepened it with a range of individual stories and behind the scenes video’s. And they captured all these, aswell as the stills for the campaign, in the same production. And this in turn inspired their audience to upload and share their own content!

THIS GIRL CAN – SPORT ENGLAND from David Procter on Vimeo.

2. PUT THE AUDIENCE FIRST

What do they find entertaining? What do they care about? What inspires them? What do they want to know? How can you help? If you’re going to connect with your audience it’s because you share the same values and are into the same stuff. And naturally the brand will be at the heart of the story.

And it also means the right type of content for the different channels. So are the length and style suitable for the channel and platform you’re using?

Volvo and their customers have always taken safety seriously and with the invention of Life Paint – a reflective spray that increases the visibility of cyclists at night – they ingeniously drew attention to Volvo’s new XC90, with it’s added safety features:

3. GO FURTHER. BE BOLDER. BE DEEPER

Make the most of being unfettered by broadcast restrictions – in terms of production values, duration and subject matter. What about all those great ideas that didn’t make it through, that are maybe too risky for TV? Can we amplify TV creative with executions that push it that bit further? Could a less polished, more verite execution be more suitable? Just don’t say viral!

4. NARRATIVE FILMMAKING

The ultimate role of content is to tell brand stories, engage audiences and ultimately win their hearts and wallets. And the way that it does that is to extend and deepen the brand stories you tell.

What human stories are behind the campaign? What’s the hook? Can we create a campaign story and build an audience out of the way we serialise and put out the content? What filmmaking and storytelling skills can we use to engage our audience from the start and keep them watching?

The Unquiet Film Series for The Times was a collection of nine films that communicated the values and beliefs of it’s journalists and readers by telling the stories behind the stories:

Or this series of funny, quirky “Womens Tales” from fashion house MIU MIU:

5. CAMPAIGNING CONTENT

Campaigning content is gaining ground. By brands getting involved in culturally relevant stories they are demonstrating what matters to them while engaging in conversations that are already happening, often on a large scale. Take Ben & Jerry’s, a longstanding champion of gay rights.

How can we use storytelling to do more than just sell product? What issues are relevant to your brand? What do you care about? How can your brand make a difference?

6. MAKING THE MOST

How can you make the most of your shoot days & existing assets across different channels? How can you maximise the content and budget across TV and branded content, but also between stills and moving image? How much money can we save by running production pipelines in tandem? Can you extend and deepen the stories in the TV ad like in THIS GIRL CAN or this Short doc from Guinness?:

Can you capture stills for instagram or clips for vine to spread the messages through social? Below is an example of how we worked with a flexible, nimble film crew, to make a film around the stills shoot, featuring the same models and locations and therefore extending the campaign concept online:

7. UNPLANNED CONTENT

Social media content is your chance to be reactive, current and relevant. Are your production partners set up to be agile and responsive – ready to spring into action at the drop of the hat to reflect news or trends? The above film for Ben & Jerry’s is a great example, entering the conversation on gay rights at a critical time when the campaigning for gay marriage was sweeping the US. Or take this Voguing film from Smirnoff, a celebration of gay expression that tied right into their “We’re OPEN” campaign championing inclusion. It was also timely seen as the LGBT community have been protesting about gay rights or lack of in mother Russia.

Look at what is popular or trending. How can bloggers and influencers help you get the content out there? Unplanned content is often the best but are you set up to be nimble?

8. AMPLIFY

Just producing brand enhancing film content and whacking it on Youtube isn’t enough – tailored and bespoke amplification, measurement and evaluation is required working with trusted partners to achieve maximum ROI.

How will we guide the right audiences to enjoy the content in a native, editorial environment? How will we track core metrics and guarantee results? How can bloggers and influencers help you get the content out there?

If you want to find out more about how content can connect with and move your audience just holler, we’d love to talk…