July 9, 2018

How Brands Successfully Use YouTube

YouTube is the dominating video platform, housing an almost endless supply and variety of content to watch and allowing users to engage with content creators directly. On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any broadcast or cable TV network. It’s no wonder why brands are shifting to an online platform to reach more potential viewers.

To understand what content strategies work on the platform, we took a look at some of the leading brands on YouTube—and what they’re doing differently.


Gillette is an industry favorite when it comes to males ages 18-34. Though its YouTube channel is relatively small, with only around 100k subscribers, the brand has received a lot of praise for its content. For example, Gillette’s top performing video, “Manscaping – How to Shave: Shaving Down There” has almost 8 million views and generally positive feedback, but it’s simple with its message. Another popular video series on the brand’s channel involves father and son bonding, complete with emotional storytelling.

Red Bull

Red Bull is one of the most dominating brands on YouTube today. With over 7 million subscribers and over 7 thousand videos, this brand has established itself as a significant player in the space. Red Bull offers a wide variety of content centered around extreme sports and stunts that its content creators have produced. The most popular video, which took over two years to produce, is called “Danny MacAskill’s Imaginate,” and it helped push Red Bull’s YouTube popularity, hitting over 80 million views and having 96% positive feedback.


The popular building-block brand has blown up on YouTube since its channel’s creation in 2005. More than 50 of its videos have over 10 million views, and as of June 2018, its channel has had over 7.5 billion video views. The brand’s content is a creative mix of child-friendly videos, international videos, and movie product tie-ins, which are potentially Lego’s most popular content. For example, the brand’s “Moana,” “Avengers,” and “Jurassic World” videos have some of the top performing statistics for views and shares on its page.

What do successful brands do differently?

A lot of what brands put on social media doesn’t always appear authentic or influential. Brands often push out short-form promotional content that feels like just a commercial. And yet some of the best performing videos from brands on the platform are longer and sometimes have little, or nothing, to do with their product.

Gillette follows these rules with their story-driven “father and son” moments by showing emotionally driven “coming-of-age” tales that seem genuine to the brand. Gillette also ties in instructional videos of their product in action. These videos are important to Gillette’s brand image as the “best a man can get,” by showing how men can use their razors “to shave the perfect goatee” or “how to shave your back.”

Takeaway: Associate a brand or product with an emotional connection.

For Red Bull, the “Danny MacAskill” videos perform very well because they are high-budget videos with a lot of heart behind them. Danny MacAskill is an influential and popular athlete in the BMX community, which helped this video become popular by featuring an influencer. The best example would have to be the “Danny MacAskill Imaginate” video, which tells a story in a fun, imaginative way. The other popular videos on Red Bull’s YouTube have the “shock and awe” factor, with videos that have insane, record-breaking feats and stunts.

Takeaway: Tell a creative story to capture your audience’s attention.

Lego has had similar success in this way with storytelling and visuals. A lot of the brand’s content has tie-ins with popular franchises such as Disney or Marvel, and it presents a story in “Lego-style.” The Lego Movie franchise has become one of the highest grossing movies in the realm of children’s entertainment, and the YouTube channel mimics this success on a much smaller scale, featuring “new adventures with your favorite characters.”

Takeaway: Tie in other products or promotions to reach a wider audience.

When creating content for a brand on YouTube, it’s important to think about what people want to watch. They want stories that they can comment on and reflect on their own lives. They want instructional and DIY videos that provide value. They want videos that will shock them, that will make them want to save it and view it later, that will compel them to share.

On YouTube, like other social platforms, in order to drive engagement for your brand, you need to first understand what your customers want from you—and then deliver.

Want to optimize your social media strategy? Get in touch.

Tags: Consumer Insights, Content Marketing, Creative, Strategy, Trends, YouTube

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