While it is possible for ‘brand communications’ to become a catch-all term for any and all content that a brand produces, we find it helpful to delineate between ‘communications’ and ‘content’; it helps refine the messaging and objectives of different sorts of work.
Content creation often aligns closely with branded entertainment—audience-first, story-led material that is driven by brand values rather than brand messaging. Created for multiple platforms and at different durations, content creation is unified by a commitment to engagement, relatability, and a focus on inspiring brand loyalty and understanding.
Brand communications align more closely with business development and foundational brand-building; often the substance of the communications is your brand messaging itself. You are communicating granular information rather than atmosphere, spirit, and feeling. Generally created for internal platforms, corporate or stakeholder channels, the purpose of brand communications is to foster understanding within a brand’s core group of advocates, e.g., employees, key stakeholders, and b2b customers.
To take a granular example of this distinction, our feature documentary ‘One Extraordinary Year’ for Red Bull would be considered content. This film leveraged Red Bull’s Olympic athlete roster to tell an epic, heartfelt story of how the pandemic changed the lives of elite sportspeople across the world. Red Bull’s brand values were at the core of the film, but these values were contained within real stories, told with storytelling craft.
Our keynote films for SAP would be considered communications. These pieces contained annual kick-off messaging, updates on company processes and workflow, and inspiring stories of impact and dedication from across the business. Rather than illustrating brand values through story, these films shared the nuts-and-bolts messaging whose adoption would drive those brand values, build company culture, and define output.
A content approach takes a brand’s core values and personality, and tells an adjacent, emotive story that aligns with these values and tone. A communications approach shares a brand’s direct messaging, i.e., the rationale and information behind what forms a brand’s values and personality.
However, typically (or at least very often!) the delineation between content and communications exists at every stage and level of the production of that material. In other words, communications and brand messaging receive a very different creative approach from content. At Parable, we treat communications in the same way that we treat content: we bring audience-first, story-led engagement and style to create communications that feel like the highest-quality television.
Let’s return to the SAP keynote films mentioned above. We brought the same level of craft and creativity to this project, as we brought to the Red Bull feature documentary. We created a keynote speech that was packaged as a cinematic film about pioneering technology in sports. Elevating the format of a livestream keynote, the film featured a global sports organisation, filmed in an epic location with sporting talent, and included deep-dive case studies into how SAP technology is changing the way sports fans connect with the players they love.
Alongside this keynote film, we also created a ‘team tactics’ experience, sharing updated processes and workflow with the rest of the organisation. Something that typically would have existed as a shared PowerPoint document or meeting, became a sports-inspired team tactics talk. Delivered in a high-impact industrial space, we used graphics to visualise the updated process, told through the lens of a sports team in action.
Punctuating the tactical run-through, we created beautiful portrait films with key members of the brand’s account team. We spent time with them at home, away from the office, with their families, getting under the skin of who they are and the passion that they bring to their work. They had been the first employees within the organisation to test and experience the new way of working, and they shared that onscreen, while also sharing warm and relatable moments from their lives and providing inspiration to the rest of their team.
These pieces were received with widespread positivity, and we continue to focus on and champion our unique approach to communications for some of the world’s biggest tech brands: we have transformed product launches into slick branded TV channels that the whole global workforce can tune into; we have turned town hall meetings into Saturday-night-live studio shows, and we have produced stylish on demand video content to accompany conferences and events.
While the concept of crafting brand-funded content with the style and craft of television is not necessarily unfamiliar, it is often done with a focus on either one of those skillsets. At Parable, we are not a television production company bringing our expertise to brand-funded communications, nor are we brand communicators adopting the traits and grammar of television: we are a fully hybrid team of PR and communications agency specialists, and award-winning documentary filmmakers.
Within our core team, this hybrid experience is not simply shared amongst and between staff, it is something embedded within the expertise of each individual. From award-winning documentaries to big brand commercials, high-quality factual programming for major channels, and through-the-line digital multi-platform branded campaigns, we have each spent decades honing the intersection of corporate communications and audience-first storytelling.
We seamlessly combine both skillsets to ensure that our clients do not need to prioritise either the engagement of the material, or its affinity to their brand messaging and priorities; instead, we offer our clients the chance to simultaneously package messaging in an accurate and efficient manner, while also pioneering new creative approaches.
The result of this shared priority is an elevation in the engagement and reach of a communication strategy that enables it to inspire a workforce, foster culture and understanding, and ultimately define the quality of a brand’s output.
In the realm of branding, it is crucial to understand the nuanced roles of content and communications. Content is chiefly an audience-first, story-led initiative that orbits around brand values. It’s the enthralling narrative you share across multiple platforms to engage and inspire brand loyalty.
Communications, on the other hand, is the lifeline that connects a brand to its core group of advocates, like employees and stakeholders. Here, the substance often comprises granular brand messaging and is geared towards fostering understanding rather than creating atmosphere.
Certainly. Take, for instance, our feature documentary ‘One Extraordinary Year’ for Red Bull. This film is a classic example of content—it tells a compelling story centred around Red Bull’s values.
In contrast, our keynote films for SAP serve as a model of communications. These films are packed with direct messaging about company processes, impact stories, and workflow, all aimed at internal stakeholders.
Indeed, they do. While content creation is driven by emotional storytelling that mirrors a brand’s core values, communications is about the tactical dissemination of a brand’s direct messaging. However, at Parable, we blur this conventional boundary. Our unique philosophy is to treat communications with the same level of craft and engagement that is typically reserved for content.
At Parable, we’ve transformed traditional corporate communications into immersive experiences. For instance, what would usually exist as a PowerPoint presentation, we revamp into a ‘team tactics’ session complete with graphics and high-impact visuals.
This approach has led us to create everything from slick branded TV channels for product launches to Saturday-night-live style town hall meetings.
Our hybrid team is a powerhouse of PR & communications agency specialists coupled with award-winning documentary filmmakers. Each individual is a nexus of corporate communications and audience-first storytelling.
This unique skill set allows us to offer our clients an unprecedented blend of engagement and direct messaging, elevating both the reach and impact of their brand communication strategies.