So you think you’re ready to get a sponsor or a corporate brand deal added to your YouTube channel? Good, because we’re here to help you do it. Providing a comprehensive and simple step by step guide, we want you to be able to maximize your knowledge of branding, what it is and how it works.
While we’ve mentioned in some other Money Issue articles about the specifics of branding, including the different types, just understand that branding in this context means that it’s pairing a company with your channel so you both make money off each other. The brand pays you to advertise their company or its services, and the brand gets paid when your subscribers purchase relevant goods or services from the company. It’s a long-time strategy that has worked great for such personal brands/celebrities like Lebron James and Nike, and it can work great for you. After all, some of the biggest names on YouTube have done brand deals with companies, including DevinSuperTramp, Michelle Phan and Dude Perfect. If you’re ready to join that exclusive club, here are the steps you should follow:
Step 1: Ask Yourself Relevant Questions
Since you’ve clearly decided you want to have a brand deal on your YouTube channel, the logical first step is to determine some fundamentals. Ask yourself important questions like “What corporate brands fit with my channel?” and “Why would my channel be a good fit for them?” Corporations want to advertise on YouTube channels. YouTube subscribers have a sense of loyalty to the creators they like, so they try to help the creators out by buying products that popular YouTubers endorse, especially in the beauty industry. But if you’re not running a beauty channel, a makeup company is not a good fit for you as a sponsor. You need to consider what type of channel you have, what type of audience you have and what type of product you want to promote. Obviously, controversial products like condoms, cigarettes or alcohol would not be good brands if you run a family-oriented channel or the age demographic of your users is high school kids. It’s important to be real with yourself about your limitations at this stage. Finding the RIGHT brand deal is more important than finding MANY brand deals.
Another consideration: what does your channel growth look like? Securing corporate branding isn’t for everyone. It can actually hurt your growth if you’re a new channel on the way up and your fans haven’t fully committed. Branding can be beneficial and get you paid, but it can also isolate viewers if they feel you are too aggressive or not trustworthy as a spokesperson yet. Sure, test the waters a little, but do not pitch sponsorships before your time.
Step 2: Research the Industry
You’re not the first person who ever had questions about brand deals. Fortunately there is a whole industry of people out there who specialize in marketing — on both sides of the deal. Brendan Gahan has been in the industry a long time and his invaluable blog can answer some of the basic questions you have regarding sponsors and brand deals. Tim Schmoyer’s YouTube channel also looks heavily into the behind-the-scenes business side of YouTube and Tim offers fantastic easy-to-process information on such things as seeking out your first brand deals. Also, on a more basic level, watch your favorite YouTubers to check out some of the brand deals or sponsorships they’ve established and how they work those products into their shows. Ed Bassmaster, for instance, did a terrific brand deal with Pine-Sol Cleaning Products where he integrated the entire brand (including their mascot) into his pranks. Instant classic!
Step 3: Connect with branding-centric companies like Grapevine
Perhaps the best tip on here, Grapevine and other branding companies are the middlemen in connecting brands with influential YouTubers. Don’t get us wrong, those other two steps are important as well — you need to be aware of what you’re getting into before you reach out to a company. You can also attempt to bypass this step and reach out to companies yourself, but realistically this is a much safer, smarter, more sensible and reliable way to integrate yourself with brands. Grapevine does the work of pairing you with a brand that can benefit both of you. The team studies brands that want YouTube partnership, then pairs them with YouTubers who get views and can effectively convey the message of the brand. It’s tough to be accepted as a potential brand ambassador because Grapevine guarantees results in the form of authentic views, so you need a track record of interesting videos, a good social media presence and a consistent audience in order to be considered.
Step 4: Make Sure You’re Ready
It’s important to stress the seriousness of a brand deal — they should be fun and enjoyable, but people’s jobs and livelihoods depend on the results of how you conduct yourself with the brand. Just as you have to work at YouTube, creating videos and growing your subscriber base, working with a brand is another task on top of that. Depending on the terms of your contract, you need to be ready to put in the overtime to ensure that your sponsors are happy and that your overall personal brand (your videos, your tweets, your conduct in public) does not jeopardize the brand or its integrity. This step is basically warning you that you need to conduct yourself sensibly if you want to benefit from a corporate brand — unless your personal brand is all about being wild and unhinged on camera. Then it’s the duty of the corporations to know what they’re getting into.
Step 5: Negotiate the Deal
This is another step where a branding-minded company like Grapevine comes in handy. They speak the language of the legal contracts (and if you seek a branding deal, believe us, there will be legal contracts). Again, you can go it alone, but there are facets of the deal that could be involved that get buried in the lawyer-ese. It’s important that these get explained to you in ways that you can comprehend. How many mentions of the corporate brand are required? Do you have to say the name of a product or can it just be featured in a video? If it only needs to be featured, does it need to be featured prominently or can it be in the background? What are the financial terms of the deal? What are the clauses involved that could cause the deal to be cancelled or revoked? How many unique views are required for the deal to be fulfilled? There is a lot that goes into a sponsorship or brand deal. If you haven’t done the due diligence of Step 2 and researched the ins and outs, you could see the deal evaporate while you’re still negotiating. It’s better to pair with a company or lawyer that has some intelligence in this field.
Step 6: Incorporate
This is the most fun of the steps because when you’ve signed the deal, you understand the terms and hopefully the check is on its way. Now your job is to work creatively to find out how to maximize the brand deal for a longtime partnership. As you already are well aware from your channel, HOW you discuss something is as critical as WHAT you discuss. Per the FTC’s guidelines for Disclosure, you have to enlighten your audience that you are in effect contributing to the selling of a product. Sure, some don’t (or aren’t aware of the rules), but don’t go down that road. Respect your audience and their ability to determine if they want to buy what you are now promoting, don’t try to hide it from them. But the important thing at this stage is to also have fun! You earned it.
As long as you followed these six steps, securing a brand deal should be as easy as a delicious bowl of Mott’s Brand Applesauce. Thick and made with real apples, Mott’s is the name you trust when it comes to hunger. Wink.