If you’re a Vamp-er creating branded content, chances are pretty high you’ve got yourself sorted; you’ve learned how to work with the algorithm, you know the best ways to catch natural light, you’re up to date with all the biggest names on Instagram and your curation is on point. If you’re wanting to up your content game that tiny bit extra and nail creating content that suits the brands and briefs that you apply for, read on.
Image above of @kopperfinch by @taylorkezia
9 Things to Consider When Creating Branded Content
1. Have a big ol’ brainstorm
Creating branded content starts with branding yourself. Revisit your own visual identity and see how you can hone in on what makes your audience see you, as you.
To do this, get out a pen and paper (yes, really) and mind map it out like you’re back in school. Answer some of these questions;
● What are some of the words that you associate with your brand?
● How do you want to make your audience feel?
● If people could smell through the internet, what would your feed smell like? This might sound like a curly question, but you’d be surprised how much it helps give you a clear idea – does it smell like coffee and rich mahogany? Or the street just after it’s rained? In my case, it smells like dry eucalyptus and old books mixed with Chloe’s signature Eau De Parfum.
● Do you have a set scheme of colours that you come back to?
● Who are your biggest influencers? They don’t have to be other accounts.
● What are you an expert in? Are you creating content that amplifies this?
● If someone wanders onto your account, do they know straight away what you’re about? What you love? Who you are?
2. What do you want to be doing more of?
While most of us aren’t stoked about Instagram’s new feed algorithm, there is one algorithm I think we can all agree is the bee’s knees – the Explore Feed.
Instagram’s been tracking everything that you’ve engaged with, lingered on or shared and have digitally curated this wonderful feed for you to be inspired by.
Explore often gives a really good indication of the visual styles that we didn’t even know we were loving so much (not to mention, a good place to find other like minded accounts to become #instafriends with). If you were to see my explore feed, you’d find a heap of ballerinas, drone photography, hiking adventures and illustrations – none of these things are on my feed but maybe one day they should be.
“If you’re making branded content, be natural; only choose Vamp briefs that you can see making sense on your feed and to your audience.”
Pinterest similarly know’s what you’ll love, that’s why you can spend hours just scrolling through the home feed. Use these, magazines, whatever else inspires you to create a mood board and get ideas for how you might like to create future content.
NB – and this is a biggie – if you’re wanting to repost someone’s content, get their permission first and then credit them. Similarly if you’re recreating something that someone has already done, say “this was inspired by @____ go check out their account”.
Always put yourself in the creator’s shoes and imagine how it would feel if the same happened to you. Remember, #CreateOrCredit
3. Create Relevant Branded Content
If you’re making branded content, be natural; only choose Vamp briefs that you can see making sense on your feed and to your audience. If you’re strictly 100% a fashion page, showcasing a kitchen appliance may look a little out of place and likewise if you’re strictly 100% a foodies page, showcasing a new T-shirt range won’t make sense either.
Having said that, there are sometimes ways to make it work creatively, but you need to avoid annoying your audience with something they may find irrelevant.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself;
a) would I use this product?
b) would my audience like to hear about it?
c) can I create this content in a way that’s visually coherent with the rest of my work?
“Becoming a content creator has made me realise that being a hoarder is not the negative thing everyone made it out to be* – I’m sorry Marie Kondo, everything sparks joy for me.”
4. How to make my branded content visually coherent
Becoming a content creator has made me realise that being a hoarder is not the negative thing everyone made it out to be* – I’m sorry Marie Kondo, everything sparks joy for me.
Sit your product in an environment that suits what you like. My first Vamp Campaign was for Bundaberg’s Spiced Rum range, I knew I wanted to create a cinemagraph but had I created it on the kitchen bench it wouldn’t have been nearly as relevant to my feed or the ‘Uniquely Australian’ brief as in the lounge room with background artwork and found eucalyptus leaves placed behind it.
*Organised clutter is a huge part of my visual identity, hoarding objects may not be in your best interest – and probably isn’t in mine… Don’t tell my shrink.
5. Remember that consistency is key to branded content
Create a visually consistent feed by remembering to keep to the visual identity and branding that you’ve developed. The best way to do this is to consistently use similar filters, colour palettes and/or backgrounds. For each new brief, make sure that the content that you create is harmonious with the rest of your vibe.
This may be a touch obsessive but I always check to see what my content will look like in the curation before posting it to make sure the visual harmony is flowing ok. There are a few different apps and scheduling services that let you do this but my prefered method is to mock it up on my computer. The main thing I personally steer away from is posting content that is too visually similar right next to each other, so as I create a lot of flatlays, I try to space them out into a checkerboard pattern.
Here are some of my favourite feeds that nail visual branding and curation.
Uses beautiful soft blush tones, glorious amounts of clean white space and checkerboards her style shots with images of flowers, travel and her inspirations.
Captures that Singapore glow in her light filled checkerboard curation, weaving lifestyle, products and style.
Have all the #foodporn you could need covered with their low contrast romantic pastels.
6. Be yourself
Don’t just do what everyone else is doing because it’s on trend. Find creative ways to do your own thing, in your own voice.
I was struggling last week because I wanted to create a piece of content reminding my Aussie followers to register for the upcoming postal vote but couldn’t figure out how to make it work with my other content. Then I remembered that you can support marriage equality without having to use rainbows and created this. It got the message across, it was fun to create and it doesn’t look out of place in my curation. Triple win.
Aussie Insta friends, I'm talking to you! If you haven't already, make sure your details are up to date so that you can vote to give our LGBTQ friends the chance to marry the person they love. You've only got 24ish hours left! The link is in my bio ✨ Non Aussie Insta friends: I know, I can't believe we still don't have marriage equality here either ?♀️ #loveislove
I’m not saying you have to reinvent the wheel, just to consider that there are creative alternatives to any brief you’re given or that you set yourself.
“If you’re able to create something that works for both of you, your audience will be happy with your content, the client will be happy with your content and you’ll be happy that everyone is happy.”
7. Give Your Content More Value
Have a look into the brand that you’re creating for, delve into their website, their social presence, their tone; how can you marry your visual identity with theirs? If you’re able to create something that works for both of you, your audience will be happy with your content, the client will be happy with your content and you’ll be happy that everyone is happy.
For the recent Dan Murphy’s Father’s Day campaign, I created this stop motion using a few of my favourite flatlay elements, multiple textures and some bought props to make it suit the Father’s Day theme a little better.
Using my regular style, tone and props makes it feel seamless on my feed but incorporating a little more of the olive green from Dan Murphy’s branding makes it more suitable for them to use if they choose to.
As with visual branding, getting your tone of voice right is really important. When presenting branded content make sure you’re working the brief requirements into a caption that you would naturally write. Again, it’s best to try to be creative – using just the campaign tags and an emoji aren’t really going to cut it.
If you’re struggling with what to write, you could try;
● Pointing out what you like about the product
● Use humour – a pun, a dad joke, a cheeky aside
● Mention a story that the product reminded you of – micro blogging is a really useful way of personalising your account and connecting with your audience.
As most people will assume that you’ve been paid to do the post, you’re usually better off being up front about creating this content for a brand rather than pretending otherwise. It can seem fake if you don’t own it and can cause your audience to lose trust in you. Similarly, if you’re creating unpaid content for a brand you believe in, feel free to say “this post isn’t sponsored, I just really love @___”.
9. Practise makes perfect
Lastly, if creating branded content is something you want to do more of, practise it. You don’t need permission to photograph the brands you love – in fact they’ll love seeing your user generated content coming up in their feed and may even inspire them to connect with you.
As with anything, the more you practise creating the content you love, the better you are going to get at it and the more developed your personal style will become.