There’s something about storytelling that somehow makes it more important than anything else in marketing. It’s a simple concept, but a difficult art to practice.

Storytelling requires a thoughtful balance of authenticity, humility, subtly, and, of course, a story to tell. And there’s possibly no greater story than the timeless bond between people and their pets.

As an industry founded in loyalty and companionship, there’s a lot that can be learned about impactful, sharable video content from the pet brands we all know and love.

1. Think bigger than the product

As the branded content category continues to explode, Purina is emerging as an innovator in video marketing. The reason is simple: the brand is one of the first to shift its ad focus from rational benefits to a more emotional side of pet ownership.

The bottom line is that people respond to the kind of messaging that speaks to the greater impact a product has on a buyer’s life, not the product itself.

With this in mind, Purina partnered with BuzzFeed and created the wildly successful branded campaign, “A Cat’s Guide to Taking Care of Your Human.”

2. Marry brand purpose with audience interest

When crafting a truly effective brand story, it’s not about the passion points of the brand—always relate it back to what the consumer is passionate about.

Pedigree zeros in on the interests of its audience with a documentary short—“Love A Shelter Pet: A Miranda Lambert Story”—that combines celebrity influence and goodwill.

3. Give the consumer a voice

The best brand storytelling often occurs when the brand isn’t actually the one telling the story. Although this seems counterintuitive, the most authentic, relatable stories come from real-life consumers.

Milk-Bone let go of that protagonist role with its first Vine initiative, the “Toothbrush Challenge,” which encouraged pet owners to upload a video of their dog with a chance to win $2,500 and a year’s supply of dog treats.

User-generated content like this is an invitation for engagement and a major driver of brand awareness, all at a low-cost.

4. Go beyond laughs

When it comes to branded content, there’s a tendency to fall back on humor. This approach isn’t outlandish—funny cat videos do get millions of views. But, the videos that go beyond those laughs to evoke an emotional response are the ones that gain valuable attention for brands.

One of the best examples of this emotionally driven branding is Petco’s campaign, “The Power of Together.” The video series addresses the emotional bonds between people and their pets—as companions, copilots, and collaborators in life.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin

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