Oreo’s recent quick-thinking “Dunk In the Dark” response to the power outage at this year’s Super Bowl put the spotlight on real-time branded content and reinvigorated the discussion about how brands need to become not just publishers but newsrooms. What’s driving this need? Today’s perpetually-connected consumers — 42% of US online adults and 37% in Europe — can engage brands at any place, any time, and at any velocity. Because of this, the sheer volume of creative content that brands must now churn out is forcing marketers and agencies to reexamine how they think about — and how they resource for — content. This challenge is not to be underestimated. But before you think about scale and real-time response, think about the story you want to tell to create brand advantage. To do this well, you need to first be true to yourself, second know your audience, and then engage your customers with a good story:

  • Know who you are. There’s a lot of content out there you can develop or share. So where do you start? Start with your brand. Guide your content development by your brand’s North Star, and make sure there is a logical connection between the content and your brand. 
  • Know your consumers. Figure out what your consumers need. What do they care about? What are they passionate about? Scott Monty, global head of digital for Ford, recently commented that Oreo succeeded at the Super Bowl: “Because they related to us, not because they forced us to relate to them.” 
  • Tell a good story. To effectively build your brand with branded content, you must lead with story first and brand or product second. Take, for example, Chipotle’s award-winning stop-motion animation “back to the start” campaign, which shows the benefits of sustainable farming through the journey of a single farmer to the tune of a Willy Nelson cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.”

I’ll be talking more about this topic in an upcoming report on how to build your brand with branded content and at Forrester's Marketing Leadership Forum in Los Angeles on April 18th and 19th. I hope to see you there. Or join my colleagues in London at the Marketing Leadership Forum EMEA on May 21st and 22nd to learn more about creating brand advantage with perpetually-connected customers.