Fuel Cycle

Taking the Brand Out of Branded Content

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It’s no secret that many consumers make purchasing decisions based on emotion. A recent Adweek article talks about, “Taking the brand out of branded content and putting the humanity back in[i].” Never have brands had such a golden opportunity, the article argues, to score major points with consumers by bringing stories to life—but they must take the traditional branding elements, as in their logos, out of the equation.

Consumers no longer gravitate toward traditional ads. They crave real stories, stories they can connect with. If they’re invested in the story you’re telling, they’ll watch or read to the end because they’ll want to know how it turns out—not because the brand is shoving its wares down their throats.

So, how do brands capitalize on this?

To gain greater insight into this issue, consider Kahneman’s Theory. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in the area of psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics.  He later wrote, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” a best-selling book based on his research regarding the dichotomy between two modes of thought[ii]. “System 1” is fast, instinctive and emotional, while “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman makes the case that people make decisions based on emotions first, then logic. He goes on to suggest that people place too much confidence in System 1, which is based on human judgment.

Whether you agree or not, this is the basis for much market research today. If consumers make snap emotional “System 1” decisions when making purchases, then brands had better appeal to this instinct.

We can also theorize that if consumers make decisions based on their initial reaction to a piece of content, it stands to reason that it’s become more important than ever to ensure that content is appealing to their emotions.

And how does a community help you deliver engaging branded content? For brands to deliver powerful, emotional content, they need to have a high degree of customer intimacy and understanding. Your community can really help you dig deep with your customers and gain greater insight into what drives them. If you’ve built a thriving community, then you’ll have a well of knowledge to draw on as you produce this content.

We know that consumers believe what other consumers say about a product. In fact, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation[iii]. If our community is filled with those who believe in our product or service, they’ll tell others—and word will spread. They’ll want to share their stories so that other consumers will benefit from the product, as well. And in this day of consumers making quick decisions based on emotions (back to Kahneman’s theory), this is the kind of marketing you want to have happening for your brand.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the focus on the logo and switch gears to focus on what’s really getting consumers to buy.

[i] http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/its-time-to-take-the-brand-out-of-branded-content/
[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow
[iii] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/12/28/how-important-are-customer-reviews-for-online-marketing/#4a177fb21928