Branded content, a.k.a. content marketing. It’s the heir apparent to social media as the easy button for all of marketing’s woes, and these days you can’t attend a marketing conference that doesn’t have at least five sessions on 10 Ways to Win with Branded Content.

So why does most branded content suck?

Truth be told it’s not usually about the quality of the content, at least not in terms of the quality of the production value. There are countless examples of high production value content that flopped and low budget content that far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Regardless of the production value, a key characteristic of good branded content is a connection to something that’s bigger than the brand itself: an idea, a set of values, a lifestyle. And it’s the lack of this connection that causes most branded to content to fail.

So what does good branded content look like? Look no further than YETI Coolers.

The YETI Presents web series consistently highlights people who live their lives on the wild side. From anglers to river guides and surfers to ranchers, every one of the subjects is Built for the Wild, which just so happens to be YETI’s motto. Branded content like this appeals to an audience that is itself wild, or at least wild at heart. And that audience also happens to be made up of people who engage in activities that routinely require the use of a good, dependable cooler.

A sure way to get people to open their wallets is to first get them to open their hearts.

So hats off to YETI. See you down the trail.