9 successful brands on YouTube: this is their strategy


Peter Minkjan

More than 12 million Dutch people now use YouTube on a monthly basis, making Google’s video platform more popular than ever. And this only seems to continue to grow due to the rise of Connected TV. Despite the enormous popularity of the platform, surprisingly few Dutch brands are using YouTube in a successful way. To convince those brands that are unsure whether they should invest in this platform: nine examples of successful brands on YouTube and their content strategy.


The fact that a network is (very) popular does not mean that, as a brand, you ‘should’ use it. But there are a number of other reasons to invest in being present on YouTube. I’d like to explain four of these reasons:

1. YouTube influences purchasing decisions

The video platform plays an increasingly important role in the online purchasing process. Research shows that 55% of today’s consumers use online video and YouTube for shopping research. YouTube how-to’s teach them what they need for a larger DIY project or people watch Product Reviews to make the best choice. Consequently, more than 90% of YouTube users learn about new brands through YouTube. With the announced integration of e-commerce into videos and livestreams, it is also becoming increasingly easy to purchase displayed products easily.

2. Visibility in Google search results

Videos are appearing in Google search results more and more. Research by Milestone Internet shows that videos appear in more than a quarter of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and they achieve a CTR of more than 60% (!). In the past you could rank high with text, but this place is increasingly reserved for videos. Smart brands are capitalizing on this.

3. Longer-term impact

Whereas a typical social media post has a lifespan of a few hours to a day at most, with the right YouTube videos, you can score thousands of views until far into the future. Think of YouTube much more as a blog in video form, rather than a social network. You don’t have to post something every day, but quality content has the chance to score for years to come.

4. Early Mover Advantage

Brands that are serious about YouTube now are still often the first within their own industry. This gives them a chance to gain an edge over their competitors. If you are serious about getting started with YouTube, it is recommended that you look at how other brands are achieving success. This way you can see what works and what doesn’t in order to learn from it.


You can write complete books about content strategies, and that’s what a lot of people do. But let’s keep it simple. In general, there are three successful approaches to video content that work for brands:

  1. Entertain: entertain your audience
  2. Educate: help your (potential) customers
  3. Inspire: inspire your viewers

Success with entertaining content

There are multiple successful examples of all three strategies. Of the brands that successfully apply the entertain strategy, I highlight three: First we Feast, VAT19 and Bart de Pau’s language school.

#1: First we Feast: the success of extremely hot sauces

Do you like spicy food? Chances are you love the YouTube series Hot Ones as well. This is a YouTube series produced by First We Feast, an American sauce producer. The premise is that celebrities are interviewed by host Sean Evans over a platter of increasingly spicy chicken wings. Sounds good right? So are the numbers. This series generates hundreds of millions of views but more importantly millions in sales split between merchandise, IP licenses and sauces. On FastCompany you can read more about the secret of their success and how you can apply that knowledge.

#2: VAT19: How a gift store acquires new customers

With more than 8 million subscribers and 200 million views, VAT19 achieves impressive numbers on YouTube. This American webshop sells ‘curiously awesome gifts’. It is a gift store with the most diverse products, such as a gummy worm which is several meters long, the most diverse costumes and fancy dresses or absurd candy. Before starting VAT19, the founders had a video production company and used their experience to promote their webshop. They do this by making hilarious promotional videos and reviews of their product offerings. These videos are viewed millions of times and YouTube is the biggest source of new and returning customers. “Basically, many of our customers are first discovering us through YouTube:” according to owner Jamie Salvatorie. Not bad when you consider that the webshop generates millions in sales.

#3: Bart de Pau: How this language teacher reaches millions of people

Instructor Bart de Pau’s online language school uploads weekly video lessons on YouTube that allow you to learn the Dutch language. These lessons are viewed en masse. Instead of just practical content, this channel also publishes entertaining videos in which clients (mostly expats) explain how they experience the Dutch language and typical Dutch habits. Some of these humorous videos have been viewed more than a million times. In total, the channel has over 200,000 subscribers and more than 47 million views. The strength of this channel is that it not only helps their target audience, but also makes good use of humor and familiarity; an effective mix for success on YouTube.

Success with educational content

Besides entertaining content, brands can also score with educational content that helps their (potential) customers. GAMMA, Coolblue, Tuinmanieren and the Yoga empire of Adriene apply this strategy successfully.

#4 GAMMA helps the Dutch handyman

Laurens Miedema, client of ours and manager of marketing and communication at GAMMA NL explains the basis of their success on YouTube: “We started with the question of what handymen are looking for and how they want to get that information. First of all we analyzed what topics people are looking for, what should be in the video and how we should build it. This led us to a set of questions in the key groups of paint, garden construction and maintenance and the sustainable job. We started answering those specific questions in a way that would resonate best with YouTube.”

The result? This approach of helping handymen won multiple marketing awards. Not only because the videos generated more than 2 million views and 80,000 hours of viewing time, but even more importantly: GAMMA also saw an 88% increase in purchase intention among viewers.

#5 Coolblue shows that Product Reviews work

How to successfully use YouTube as an E-commerce brand is demonstrated by Coolblue. People use YouTube to determine if they are buying the right product. Coolblue understands this and helps potential customers with its extensive product reviews to make the best choice. In addition, they are a true early adopter. They started their YouTube channel back in 2011. Read more about the secret behind their success on YouTube here.

#6: Tuinmanieren: millions of views and a high-scoring webshop

Jurgen Smit proves that not only large brands can score with educational content. This experienced gardener and author started the YouTube channel Tuinmanieren a few years ago. Nowadays it has become the main channel of choice when it comes to gardening, plants, flowers and more. Jurgen answers all gardening questions in his videos. He tells you all about a winter garden, he helps with pruning and tells you exactly what to do in your garden in every month of the year. The result? The channel now has more than 72,000 subscribers, generates millions of views on an annual basis, and perhaps most importantly, each new video generates dozens of orders in his webshop.

More examples of smaller Dutch entrepreneurs who successfully use YouTube can be found here.

#7: Adriene built a global yoga empire thanks to YouTube

Adriene Misler started her channel called ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on YouTube in 2012. Today, this channel is a huge success and she reaches an audience of millions. The secret behind her success is a combination of her charisma, perseverance, knowledge of yoga but also YouTube SEO and a rock-solid content strategy. The basis of her strategy is to share full yoga exercises for free. That was something no one was doing before she started her channel. Of all the content Adriene creates, less than 10% is paid, the rest she gives away for free via YouTube. As she herself said in a 2018 keynote presentation, “Our mission was: let’s simply give all our high quality yoga content away for free and see what happens.”.

De keuze welke video’s ze moeten maken baseren grotendeels op YouTube keyword research. Hierdoor bereikt ze niet alleen haar abonnees, maar scoort ze ook hoog op vrijwel alle relevante zoekopdrachten in YouTube-search. De kijkers die ze hiermee scoort, verleidt ze middels verwijzingen in haar video’s om haar website te bezoeken en zich in te schrijven voor de nieuwsbrief (weekly loveletter). Pas in deze nieuwsbrief brengt ze haar Yoga subscription service, inclusief exclusieve videocontent, live events en merchandise onder de aandacht. Het resultaat? 10,4 miljoen abonnees, meer dan een miljard YouTube-views en een wereldwijd opererend Yoga-imperium.

Success with inspiring content

Here you’ll find an overview of even more brands that score with educational content. Finally, the inspirational approach. This is the approach least used by brands. Exceptions are German Greator and Dutch Transavia.

#8: Greator: inspiring presentations on self-development

Greator is a German platform for self-development. Top experts with various expertise provide offline and online training courses. On YouTube they use a content strategy that can be summarized as “TED Talks about self-development” but with more attention to YouTube optimization than TED. Their videos are only in German so that’s why you’ve probably never come across them as a suggested video. Millions of other people have. With their inspirational videos they generate a huge reach and thus YouTube has become one of their most important marketing channels.

#9: Transavia inspires travelers

Transavia is one of the most active airlines on YouTube. They regularly provide a look behind the scenes, useful tips but also offer travel inspiration about the destinations they fly to. For example, in the series ‘In 3 minutes’ you can discover the most beautiful summer destinations in 3 minutes.


Many brands find the investment in video ‘too expensive’ to go full steam ahead. Yes, video is more expensive than many other types of content. That’s precisely why you need to be sure you’re covering the right topics. Video has a longer lifespan than social posts and that makes your ‘payback period’ longer. In addition: video does not have to have a high production value to be successful, according to this global study by ThinkWithGoogle.

Are you planning to get serious about YouTube? Here are three practical tips that will help you achieve greater success:

  • Be patient: YouTube for brands is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are not prepared to invest at least a few months and get minimal results in the beginning, I would advise you not to start. However, for the go-getters who use YouTube in the right way, a much greater reward awaits than on other platforms.
  • Pay attention to YouTube SEO: After Google, YouTube is the largest search engine in the world. Yet few brands really pay attention to ranking high in this search engine. This presents opportunities for those that do. YouTube SEO goes beyond using the right keywords. You also need to create videos that generate viewing time. Videos that are poorly optimized but generate a lot of view time rank much better than videos with perfect metadata but generate little to no view time.
  • Focus on titles & thumbnails: In addition to generating viewing time, a high CTR is vital to ranking well in YouTube. Titles and thumbnails have the greatest influence on this. So pay most attention to these elements. Test and learn what works.


YouTube is still unknown territory for many brands. It is nothing more than a collection of old commercials. If you want to change that, let yourself be inspired by the examples above. Do you know any other successful brands on YouTube that are worth mentioning? Please let us know in the comments.


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