Yes, they might make you cringe, but don’t ignore well-branded Facebook ads!

Facebook generated $27 Billion in revenue last year … because newsfeed ads are effective. If you think everyone scrolls right over and skips Facebook ads, think again. You are missing a growing opportunity to share your brand. No longer limited to something that looks like a classified ad on the side of the computer screen, well-branded Facebook ads can drop you right in front of your target audience in its universe of 1+ billion users. The platform, as ingrained in our habits as turning right on red at a traffic light, produces results (take a look at these debunked myths). This means it’s important to consider how a well-branded Facebook ad fits within your toolbox.

To help, Facebook created “Facebook Awards” to recognize creativity, while also highlighting its own advertising capacity. Awards are given in 5 categories for innovative content that also meets its business objectives. Our question for you: are any of the 2015 or 2016 winners well-branded Facebook ads?

Let’s take a look at 5 of our favorites and see what branding lessons we find:

1. The Boys (2016)

Want to sell comfortable underwear for men? Bonds showed its target audience exactly what they need and why in this clever ad campaign that let it all hang out. Men may not ordinarily think about comfortable underwear, but the Australian brand gave personality to specific body parts (particularly “the boys”) to show the problem it solved. This underwear does solve other issues that men think about. The campaign was such a hit that the company created several more videos, including a very tall digital billboard in Melbourne. Facebook awarded this ad a Gold Award for Best Use of Facebook Platforms.

2. The Ice Bucket Challenge (2015)

It’s a branding dream: a viral campaign that cost nothing, resulted in $200+ million in revenue/donations which funded research that linked a terminal illness with a specific gene. Facebook awarded The Ice Bucket Challenge a Blue Award in the Facebook for Good category. By now, everyone is familiar with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Did you know it wasn’t even tied to ALS until this guy took the challenge? In four weeks, the consumer-driven campaign went global, aided by the help of a few notable celebrities. Once The ALS Association realized what was happening, it took advantage of the viral phenomenon … by letting go of control. Instead of forcing the movement or the results of the campaign, it focused the consumer (donor) experience by making it easier to share and donate, particularly through social media channels like Facebook. Once the fervor died down, ALS branded its own follow-up Every Drop Counts to share its progress fighting this disease. Meet your target audience where they live: on Facebook.

3. #LikeAGirl (2015)

The brand Always took on gender stereotypes as a way to connect with a target audience… with resounding success.  It won 3 Facebook Awards: Blue in the category of Craft, Gold in Facebook for Good, and Bronze in Media Strategy.  What do we learn here? The value of connection: a brand goes beyond a basic solution and relates to the emotional needs of a target audience. That emotional connection pays dividends. Yes, the ad had its critics, but the results are important: not only did the video ad go viral, it created memorability for the brand. Empowerment and Always.

4. Beats (2016)

Beats by Dre promoted Straight Outta Compton using a simple concept: we’re all “straight outta somewhere.” Using Dr Dre’s stellar success story as a billionaire rapper business man from one of the most notorious neighborhoods in the U.S., Beats connected with consumers across the global with the idea that we all have roots, and we all have potential. Again, Beats reached target audiences through that deeper level of community and hope. The shareable features on Facebook became vital to the success of the brand’s campaign, which crashed the user-customizable app 3 times. Indeed, everyone is straight outta somewhere. When developing your branding strategy, don’t overlook the impact that consumers can have when sharing on Facebook.

5. Dreams of Dali (2016)

This ad wasn’t afraid to explore a new feature like Facebook’s 360 video. Although an art museum ad may not go viral, is can raise awareness and attendance for new exhibits, which is exactly what happened for the Dalí Museum in Florida. The exhibit offered a virtual reality experience of a Dali painting that could be shared through Facebook: take a look. Take note: well-branded Facebook ads don’t need to look or feel like static requests for donations / sales: use Facebook to expand your ever important customer experience. The success? More 2 million total online views plus Facebook’s Silver Award in Innovation.

Even though Facebook offers 3 formats (the side column, the desktop newsfeed post, and mobile newsfeed) for ads, there are multiple approaches in these 3 formats that your brand can use to reach your target audience: videos, photos, present multiple products, local ads, promotion of offers and events, boosted posts, and the (creepy) retargeting ad (the ad that appears after you’ve checked out certain websites).

The one right for you will simply hinge on a well-crafted branding strategy. Do any of these examples spark ideas for you?

If your brand has taken you as far it can go, there’s only one way to take it further. It’s not with a marketing agency. Not with a business coach. Not even a graphic designer.

It makes common sense to hire a branding agency … for branding. And, you can do that in just 2-days with our “Branding Intensive“.