Tuesday, January 03, 2023
Content is everywhere, and content is king, they say. But what exactly makes a piece of content good or bad? How do you create content to suit a brand's needs? You see, the word content is pretty generic and applies to various mediums, whether it is print, video, or podcast form. 

Content is king by itself is a bit misleading because by adding a simple adjective could modify the meaning greatly;(good) content is king,or  (bad) content is king. It suddenly changes the meaning which is the issue with buzzwords.

Content can be found everywhere you turn, and in this digital age, even bad content finds an audience. But what is very important is tailored content, where the content really connects with the audience it is meant for and will be meaningful and valuable to them, not just a generic fluff piece.

Now apply this principle to branded content, and it becomes even more true. If the content is not suited perfectly to the audience, people will disconnect from the content, the brand, and the publisher. 

On YouTube, for example, too many times we see a generic VPN or mattress-in-a-box company pay for “branded content” but it is always nothing more than a glorified advert. Understandably, the wheel of the industry has to turn, we all have salaries, overhead and incidental to be paid, and some of these brands have limited budgets, so they have to find ways to keep up.

The recipe is fairly simple; combining the value proposition of the brand with what the publication offers. When the offering of the publication and the interest of the audience is combined, true integrated branded content is achieved. You need a strong and extensive understanding of the publication and the brand to get home runs. This is where it pays off to have creative people in your team, as engaging in brainstorming to generate these ideas will help you eventually get the winning idea.

There are a few basic questions that one must ask when coming up with content ideas for a brand. 

1. What does the brand offer?
Why are we here? What is our purpose? Does it resonate with our audience(s)? These are basic questions you need to ask to come up with great content ideas.

There is an old saying in advertising that says “You can’t sell a bad product”. This is the same here because sometimes the client or brand may not be the right fit and other solutions may be best. But on the flip side, if the offer is strong and there’s alignment, then it can lead to strong creative content ideas that can boost the brand image.

2. What is their goal? 
There’s always a motive that makes a company spend dollars on marketing. Do they want to increase app downloads? Do they need to raise their awareness of the product? Drive sales? Etc. Knowing this will help you narrow down your options and figure out what can or can’t be done, how it may be done, and so on. 
3. What is their brand tone?
Are they a fun brand or a more serious brand like pharmaceuticals? The kind of tone the brand adopts has a major effect on the type of branded content that would be created. This would help you pair various content ideas with the right team or the right product (show, site, paper…). This way you make sure that each one fits and would work perfectly for the brand. 

4. The most important of all… what is unique to the publisher? 
This is what is often forgotten, and most of the time it is because of a lack of time, creativity, or knowledge. It takes a bit of effort to sit down and ask the right questions to come up with the right idea. What makes this creative idea OURS, and what makes it so special, that nobody else can offer that? 

This is why it’s the most important because this is the creative team or publishers’ edge over everyone else. What connects the brand to your content? It could be as simple as a specific talent unique to that niche, or the ability to ignite an audience behavior that is unique to one provider.

When you answer all of these questions, you come up with a winning idea that would make your content stand out and make for an amazing branded content piece. Ultimately, throughout the years and in my experience from trying out various branded content methods, I realized as long as the content is good, the audience will not care if it is branded or not. Once they get value out of it, that's all what matters to them.

About the Author: Jean-Francois Berube
Quebec native Jean-Francois is an energetic and creative integrated media professional and experienced producer. Over the years, JF has cultivated creative branded entertainment innovations, with the CBC and Postmedia, and now with Valnet. His creative experience includes production and film content across both the U.S. and Canada with clients such as Ford, Lincoln, Budweiser, Mini, RBC Avion, Bioré, Honda, and many more brands.
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This is a guest column for the COPA judges so they can share some of their wisdom with the industry. The COPA Judges are the who's who of the publishing industry in Canada.  COPA Judging Panel Link 
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