Content has always been king, but it seems to be making headlines a lot more often these past few months. Consumers don’t want sales pitches – they want content. The challenge is figuring out how to give it to them in a way that benefits your brand as well as their demands.
The win-win solution is custom branded content – content that provides value to the consumer while also giving exposure to your brand. Here’s how to create custom branded content for your business or organization in 5 easy steps:
1. Start with your elevator pitch
Before you get into the nitty gritty, take a step back and start with the big picture. If someone asked you what the point of your brand was, what would you say? What product or service does your brand offer, and who would benefit from it?
Let’s take a fictional example we can probably all relate to – a lemonade stand. What’s the mission of the lemonade stand? To top off the weekly allowance with Mom and Dad’s old pitcher and some sugary powder you picked up from the grocery store. Right? Wrong.
That may be the motivation behind the business – but the question you need to answer is what value do you add to society?
So let’s try this lemonade stand thing again:
The purpose of the lemonade stand is to provide a refreshing reprieve from the summer heat to members of the community at an affordable price. The lemonade stand isn’t just a place to purchase a cold drink, it’s a gathering spot promoting community togetherness in the celebration of families and the slower days of summer.
2. Identify the needs of your customer base
Now, work off your elevator pitch to identify the unique demands of your customer base. Here’s what they would be for lemonade stand consumers:
- A way to cool down in the summer heat
- Desire for family and community camaraderie
- Nostalgia for childhood summers
3. Make it actionable
This is where a lot of branded content fails. Brands talk about themselves and even address the needs based on their mission, but they miss the mark when it comes to providing content that people can actually act on. So, instead of writing an essay about why you miss your childhood, actionable content would provide ways adults can relive moments from their childhood summers. Just like in the elevator pitch, you have to make sure to make it about them, not about you.
The best way to ensure your content is actionable is to start with trigger words, and determine where they could fit in with the needs listed above. These include:
- How to
- 5 ways to
- Accomplish X in a few easy steps (sound familiar?)
Not a fan of any of these? Here’s a list of more than 100 of them.
Here are some examples of how to take the trigger words, combine them with your customer’s demands and turn them into custom branded content:
- How to cool off this summer without breaking the bank
- Family bonding time in the summer with these 10 activities people of any age can enjoy
- 5 ways to relive the magic of your childhood summer
4. Choose your visual medium
Now that you have your actionable branded content skeleton, determine how you will present it. Here are a few options with some free tools you can use to create them:
- Infographic (Piktochart)
- Checklist (Canva)
- Quiz (Qzzr)
- Photo collage (Picmonkey)
- Slideshow (Slideshare)
- Chart (Infogr.am)
- Video or animation (PowToon)
5. Brand it (without making it all about you)
There are actually two components to this step – inserting yourself gently into the actual content as well as visually branding your product.
Let’s say we decided to make a checklist titled, “5 ways to relive the magic of your childhood summer.” Making the entire checklist about the lemonade stand wouldn’t be useful to anyone. Instead, make just the 5th option about the lemonade stand. That way you’re providing value and in-content branding (sort of like a subset of native advertising).
Finally, make sure to include your logo, brand colors and website URL in the wrapper of the image – somewhere where it’s not intrusive but still noticeable. Visual content is meant to be shared across the social sphere, so make sure your brand is being shared with it.
Take a look at what a lemonade stand’s “5 ways to relive the magic of your childhood summer” checklist might look like, and share your own tips for creating custom branded content in the comments below!