Is Unbranded Advertising Content Right For Your Brand?

by Todd Lilly, Senior Digital Producer

L’Oreal, Chevy and beloved Mexican beverage brand, Jarritos have all done it – and with huge success.

What did they actually do? When it comes to unbranded advertising content, it’s more about what they didn’t do. They put their brand in the backseat and ventured into creating unbranded campaigns and content.

In recent months, brands have started to experiment with developing campaigns and content that is void of heavy branding and strong hard-sell offers in an attempt to re-position themselves in their marketplace.


Use It To Remove Bias And Promote Your Self-Confidence

L’Oreal felt so confident of their brand and products that they developed a non-branded beauty product comparison and review site to solicit real world customers and reviews. The idea being – unsolicited reviews and testimonials work hard to convince, persuade and influence prospective buyers into making well-informed decisions.


Is it a matter of trust? Every product and brand in a competing space will tell you why their product is the best and deserves your hard earned money. However, in this Internet age where people overwhelmingly turn to reviews, whether on specific sites or social media, it’s a safe bet that your brand’s voice is not the only one people tune into.

Chevy recently took their logo and marks off their new 2016 Chevy Malibu to see what people thought of the car without having any preconceived notions about the brand. It worked! People are comparing the car to a BMW or Lexus and talking about it being worth 50k, 60k … even one seemingly out-of-touch customer saying she wouldn’t be surprised if it was an $80k car. Chevy recognized their brand came with some biases and prejudices. They lifted their branding to see what unbiased consumers would say about it.


Are You Brave Enough To Let Go?

There are downsides, of course. It’s hard to convince brand managers to not lead with their baby, so to speak. When making a sizable investment, you can certainly understand their hesitation and desire to take pause. But, as stewards of brands, we have to take a different approach these days. It’s no longer sufficient or effective to just think you can force features, benefits and discounts down a consumer’s throat. You have to show some heart, be authentic, and in-touch. You have to show you’re listening in order to be relevant to the mindset of your consumers.

And if you’re not in such a great place, that’s okay. The first step to solving the problem is acknowledging that there is one to start with. If your brand makes the top 10 list of most hated brands – ask yourself if your customers really care about this new sponsorship or that funny video.



“If you build it, people will come,” James Early Jones’ as Terrence Mann said in ‘Field of Dreams’, and it’s as true as it was for Kevin Costner as it is for brands. Making content that your brand stands behind makes it easy for people to stand behind, as well. Just look at the recent buzz around Jarritos’ Better Together campaign. That’s how you earn respect, change perceptions and cause a shift in the value of your brand.


Strategizing For Unbranded Advertising Content

So, does it still make sense for your brand to consider a campaign that’s not dripping with branding? There’s only one way to know: listen.

-What are your customers saying and thinking?

-What’s the brand sentiment that consumers feel when they hear or see your brand?

-What’s their visceral reaction?

Consider what frame of mind your consumer is already in. Think about how you can advance on that sentiment. Maybe it’s fine time to run a survey to say you’re looking for suggestions on how to improve things and prioritize them.

If people are put off by your brand, then continuing to force your brand in all your communications is not the right approach. For unbranded content, it is important to position your brand as a thought leader and reach people that are resistant to your brand. Recognize that there is a time and place for a hard sell; based on where your brand sentiment is, are people responsive based on how you present your brand? Be sure that you remove preconceived notions on brands and relative expectations. Listening and being armed with all that info will help your brand figure out how much or how little to lead with branding.

Some more points to keep in mind when considering unbranded advertising content:

-Ensure it adds value to a consumer’s life

-Take a risk – do something conversation-worthy

-Don’t be afraid of getting emotional

-Spark curiosity

-Look for the open space – if your content niche is saturated, this might be a differentiation strategy

-Create a strategy that builds momentum, not just one hit – continue to provoke thought, deliver value and inform



Is Chevy leaving money on the table?

Could they get $3-5k more for an unmarked Malibu?

Or even more?


Curious how this could work for your brand? Spark a conversation with our CMO, Carla Eboli.


At the heart, unbranded advertising is all about the consumer and if you want consumers to be engaged with your brand, you have to be aligned with how they feel so you can build a relationship from there. Looking for some non-traditional thinking about your brand and how to advance it with your consumers? That’s what we do and we’d love to talk with you about it. Get in touch by visiting and subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly dose of relevant advertising trends impacting the multicultural market.

Dieste Inc