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Branded content: the 4 essential phases

The key to branded content production is the link that the content creates between what the brand wants to convey as a message and what the broadcaster’s audience wants to listen to.

Finding that link has been at the core of what Toast has done in branded content over the past decade, and it goes through a strong relationship between the brand’s marketing team and the content producers.

Branded content cannot be a basic transactional relationship. The depth at which the discussions must go to be able to find that nugget of truth that becomes the seed of a great brand story go much deeper than a basic product-based transaction.

The brand’s marketers need to have access to producers and the creative team. Filling a creative brief will simply not do it.

Branded content producers at Toast have built this experience, this finesse, to carve a strong content proposal that will fit both the objectives of the brand, but while also catching and keeping the attention of the desired audience.

When looking for branded content producers, brands are not looking to create yet another ad. They are looking to create engaging content that will generate a positive action in the future, and the creative team behind any branded content production is well aware of this.

This is what The Weather Channel’s Jason Hermes puts forward in a Brandstorytelling.tv article: “[…] any marketer that does not feel they are getting direct access to the person actually producing their paid segment – run; it will fall flat and fingers will be pointing in every direction.”

The four phases of branded content production need to be done in the right order, or else there is risk of not getting a successful result, and burning bridges on what could have a been a long-term relationship:

  1. Discovery: have the creative team meet with the brand’s marketers to learn all they can about their business objectives, both short-term and longer term, the brand story, the values, the tone and manner, etc.
  2. Insights: make sure the creative team and the brand know as much as possible about the audience they will be reaching out to, the audience they will be targeting. This ensures that the results will not only focus on reaching as many people as possible, but that the project will reach the right people.
  3. Creative: create and co-validate the concept. This is where two circles meet, one with the brand’s objectives and the other with the audience’s interests, to allow the creating of a storyline that is in the interest of both parties.
  4. Validation: make sure all stakeholders agree that this is the best course of creative action. This relationship built on trust would not be possible if everyone’s expertise (the brand about itself, the producers about the audience, the creatives about the way to link both) is perfectly aligned.

This is how a successful branded content production paves its way and becomes a key asset in the brand’s marketing team portfolio.

How is your brand viewing branded content partnerships? How well has the production team acted as a creative partner in your past endeavours? We would love to hear more, don’t hesitate to reach out!