When we watch YouTube, it has become increasingly common for an advert to play before the video you have chosen to watch. But how often is it immediately clear which brand is being advertised? And why is this so important?

Branding. Advertising. The two go hand in hand. But when it comes to adverts on YouTube, there are many instances where there is no branding during the first half of the video, whether that be the company logo, slogan or other key elements that people connect to the brand.

You simply cannot drive brand awareness and consideration if people don’t know who the sender of the message is.

This is interesting, not least because the vast majority of people have already clicked away from the ad, leaving the advertiser with little value. At best you have been driving the industry as a whole, at worst you have accomplished nothing.

This increasing trend for ad campaigns which lack an immediately clear brand is not limited solely to YouTube. It appears to be a legacy from drama-focused adverts, where ads built up an intensified drama which would hold the viewers attention until the end, upon which the brand would finally be revealed.

Yet there are two challenges with this. The first one is that people’s attention spans are not getting longer. The second is that the principle of ‘hook and hold’ drama is based on the fact that drama and advertising are two separate things, so you need one to do the other. Yet people are much more straightforward than that. Our insight is the following:

If you have great content, people will watch it whether it is branded or not. If you don’t have great content, people won’t watch it whether it is branded or not. You simply cannot lose from branding your content properly.

Branding your content properly

When it comes to branding your content properly, it’s very important to do two things:

  1. Perhaps obvious, but ideally make ads that people want to watch, read or listen to
  2. Brand these ads with elements that people link to your brand such as logo, colour, shapes etc.

The key reason why it is so important to brand yourself and your ads with a clear delivery is that the purpose of ads is to drive mental availability/share of mind for your brand, so that the likelihood of someone buying or searching for your brand instead of a competitors increases the next time they engage with your industry. You simply cannot drive mental availability such as brand awareness and consideration if people don’t know who the sender of the message is.

How SCA Hygiene Products became a thought-leader

One brand that is a thought-leader in this area is SCA Hygiene Products, who own Libresse. SCA did a test on YouTube to establish what impact branding can really have. They aired two videos in parallel, the only difference being that one video featured the brand logo from the start (in a non-intrusive way), while the other video had no branding at the start.

The result was thus: the ad which featured the logo at the very beginning improved brand recall among ad skippers by 300% - all with no increase in campaign costs and no drop in engagement.

”Through this study we have evidence that branding from the start is an extremely effective and quite simple way to drive brand awareness in a highly competitive communications landscape,” reveals Heléne Stenlund Gauthier, Nordic Media Manager of SCA Hygiene Products.

Avoid paying for your competitor’s advertising

Sometimes advertisers, and perhaps even more so creative agencies, are afraid to brand their ads from the start since they believe engagement rates will fall.

As we saw in this study, that is not true, and in this case the simple difference was a logo from the start of the video. Imagine what can be accomplished if the brand is included in the drama from the start. If engagement drops because of a logotype, then it’s not the logo that is the problem, but rather it is your ad that is not engaging enough.

If you don’t brand your ads properly from the first second to the last, you pay for your competitor’s advertising toward anyone skipping the ad, and most companies don’t want to pay for that. And yet, they still do.

Look at your adverts as if you were a disengaged viewer and ensure that they are properly branded. Many ads on YouTube today are not branded properly, but that could easily be changed, as SCA has demonstrated.

If you wish to read more about the Libresse case study, you can read the full article here here or download the PDF below.