From Good to Gold: Top Tips for Winning Creative
It’s no secret: If brands want their content to dominate screens and social feeds, they must take cues from TikTok, where ad reach climbed nearly 15% by the close of 2022.
But, there’s a catch. While this new crop of TikTok-savvy brands may be capturing more eyeballs, they’re not necessarily winning new customers given the ever-growing competition.
“With more and more brands playing around with the same TikTok trends,” explains Alexa Prosniewski, Head of Creative Production at MuteSix, “branded content needs to work even harder to break through the noise to capture user attention, and then retain it.”
At MuteSix, that means producing extensively tested full-funnel creative, topped off by higher-production branded content that effortlessly blends entertainment and marketing, building lasting connections with audiences to boot.
Last year, MuteSix’s branded content continued to show the rest of the industry how it’s done, with brands across all shopping verticals successfully boosting clicks and industry honors in one fell swoop.
Such brands include menswear brand Twillory – whose “Twillory Tim” spot snagged a Silver at the 44th Annual Telly Awards plus an Award of Excellence at the 2023 Communicator Awards – as well as made-for-comfort footwear brand Gales, with its two Silver wins at the Telly Awards.
On the heels of our recent industry wins, we sat down with MuteSix’s Creative Production team to learn how to take top-of-funnel branded content from good to gold.
Since TikTok erupted onto the scene , it’s clear that in order to win, branded content needs to entertain first, sell second. That matters more than ever with post-pandemic shoppers gravitating more to humor and joy in an attempt to escape economic anxieties. Whether it’s a light-hearted narrative, fast pacing, or funny audio sounds, the spots that make cracking up audiences are the ones – not surprisingly – outperforming the competition.
Like Twilory’s “Timory Tim,” where “humor was the key ingredient,” according to Prosniewski. “Twillory is a brand that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, so we went hard on the comic relief by playing up relatable wardrobe pain points, and leveraging quirky sounds, fast pacing, and laugh-out-loud jokes.”
The challenge then became how to strike a balance between witty and informative, since “entertained shoppers still want to learn those key value props, so they can’t get too lost in the humor.”
TikTok’s claim to fame was keeping content short but sweet. Originally, TikTok allowed videos of up to 15 seconds, before extending it to one minute. In July 2021, it upped the limit to three minutes, before more than doubling that length in 2022.
Despite the wild uproar from short-attention-spanned skeptics, TikTok continued finding strategic ways to compete with longer-form competitors like YouTube and CTV.
Now, it seems the consensus is in: longer can be better.
For both Twillory and Gales, MuteSix used this added time to feature more robust storytelling and keep shoppers entertained longer. “Longer-form content is thriving right now. Rather than trying to compete with the overwhelming majority of short videos, longer formats – typically around 90 seconds – allow us to flesh out the narrative, make the spot more memorable, and optimize it for CTV and YouTube,” explains Prosniewski.
Sounds are the backbone of any viral TikTok. That’s why in 2023, the platform made it even easier for brands to leverage custom sounds via their newly launched Sounds for Business. This new collection of custom sounds allows for easy content creation using a mix of music, voice over, and other directional sound cues to help brands up the entertainment ante in a predominately sound-on environment.
This year, MuteSix took it a step farther with custom studio produced music. According to Prosniewski, “We really leaned into custom music production because it is more attention-grabbing than stock options. With sound being so critical to TikTok, it has become important to experiment with it and make it almost the focal point of content.”
And though a more costly undertaking, it paid off for brands like Gales, whose number-one goal was celebrating nurses and winning their loyalty. This was achieved via a custom rap track and professional choreography, which successfully got nurses dancing and shopping with one cant-get-it-out-of-your-head track.
TikTokers love to see content from real people, not salesmen. Reaching audiences and earning their trust boils down to who’s telling your brand story – and that someone has to be as on-brand and relatable as possible.
While the use of content creators in branded content continues to thrive, a growing trend is brand spokespeople, which include carefully cast actors.
For Twillory, it was a no-brainer they needed a brand spokesperson who embodied the ideal Twillory customer – a laid back but polished guy wanting to look stylish while avoiding the dry cleaners.
“We chose to hire an actor to be the spokesperson because it allowed us to really craft a character that resonates with the Twillory customer,” shares Prosniewski. This approach was totally different from using a brand-aligned content creator – they were the hero of the brand, making them aspirational yet authentic. And audiences loved Twillory Tim.”
For brands looking to take their high-budget branded content to the next level across Paid Media channels and screens both big and small, reach out to our in-house, award-winning Enterprise Production team today.