“A 2016 study by Nielsen revealed that high-quality branded content is far more effective in terms of brand recall and lift than advertising.”

How many branded films have you watched in the past few months? By branded films I mean high-production value content, longer form (let’s say over 5 minutes), that has either that documentary or feature-film feel to it.

Not that many, heh?

Well, there are many that are being released every month but not many end up in your inbox or in one of your feeds.

This is because either the distribution was not thought out properly, or the content and script itself didn’t resonate with the audience. And if it didn’t resonate, it can often be because many of them just feel like longer ads.

PRWeek published a great article on the criteria of success of brand films and what can really make (or kill) a production.

Here is what Manuel Sattig, head of brand strategy and communications at BMW of North America, had to say about their approach to brand films:

“Don’t put your usual brand umbrella over a project like this. When you start briefing directors, script writers, and even actors very specifically about your brand values and how you want everything to be perceived, you’re really moving away from branded content. You’ll just end up with a longer TV spot that you designed by yourself.”

And he added:

“As a brand, you have to get away from the usual rules in terms of what your product has to look like, how it can be treated, and how it can be displaced, if you really want to create authentic branded content.”

Paul Trillo, an award-winning director that has recently worked with Olympus, mentioned the importance of brands being able to “get weird”, not play safe. This is key in creating a viewing experience your audience will remember:

“To some degree, brand films that go viral aren’t safe; there has to be something kind of new, unexpected, and even bizarre about it.”

And then there is the question of the brand’s place in the end result. How front-and-center should it be, how should its products be featured? In the end, the production’s goal is to be able to create a brand recall between the film (the experience) and the brand. So how should we do it?

Well, this can vary a lot. And I think P.J. Pereira, chief creative officer and cofounder of Periera & O’Dell, says it well:

“For a brand film to be successful, the audience needs to feel that this is a legitimate and honest attempt to entertain or inform. Because if you overplay your hand as a brand, you kill the content and people start to say, ‘This is just an ad.’”

And this is where, at Toast, we believe that your branded content production should not be put directly in the hands of your advertising agency. So many variables differ from the traditional production process of advertising that different creatives and producers are required to create the experience your brand deserves.

So until you give us a call (why not today?), I will let you read this great article over at PRWeek.