I work on a lot of videos. And as is such I also tend to watch a lot of videos & branded content and (maybe unsurprisingly) there’s more blasé work than spectacular. But we’re to just dealing with good and bad. Oh no. There’s another category which is more damaging to brands looking to make a name for themselves in the digital space – Useless.
Useless video are assets that look beautiful, sound amazing, and do absolutely nothing for the brand. Further they typically cost an arm and a leg to actually make giving them a negative ROI. Awesome huh?
Want to make useless videos for your company?
Toot Your Own Horn
Ok – here’s the deal. It’s great that you’re the third generation to run the family business or that you’ve done big work with big clients… but what will you do for me? Too many video pieces that I see – brand films, sales videos, branded content, etc – fail to create any real value for prospects or even succeed in connecting with them.
But you need to show prospects that you’re different right? Absolutely… but not in the way that you think.
Quickest way to set your business apart is by talking about all the benefits your clients receive by working with you. Tell them how awesome they’ll be after working with you. Paint the picture of their future after having met you. Tell your story through their coming success.
Don’t tell a Story
From the earliest cavemen through to present day stories connect us. They engage us. Speak to us on a deeper level than information alone can. Yet surprisingly the vast majority of the videos that I see used in business completely miss the mark on the emotional level and get stuck in a cerebral exercise of info sharing. And if sharing information is all you’re hoping to accomplish then I’d actually recommend NOT using video. Print a brochure – it’ll be much cheaper and just as effective and that’s because…
Video is an emotive medium. Remove the emotion and you’re left with a beautifully shot and very expensive piece of useless marketing collateral. Tell a story with your video. Feel free to reach out if you need a hand with that.
Don’t Take a Risk
Cue the inspiring music. Open on a wide panning shot of an outside office building. Cut to a close up of the company’s logo on the door. The voice over begins and we cut to a business person sitting in conference room – they’re telling us the company history.
You know why it was so easy to picture the visual described above? Because you’ve seen it a hundred times before. Heck you may have participated in your own company’s corporate video. Worse, you may have been responsible for it!
One of the biggest mistakes that I see companies making with their business videos is that there’s zero imagination. What happens is a VP of something or other sees a sharp looking video on a competitors website and they think to themselves “we need one of those”. They save the link and show it around as a benchmark of what their new video asset might look like. But somewhere along the line the conversation turns from “our competitor has a great video and we should make a better, bolder, smarter video asset to properly showcase our brand” to “yeah, just basically do that”. And sadly that’s what happens. A blatant rip off of everyone else’s work. Get creative be bold.
Rubber on Road
So what should you do? First get a team of creative visual storytellers behind you. Ideally they’ll be a mix of seasoned veterans and young guns to create balance in the creative. Then give your team time to noodle on ideas and try different ideas – which means plan ahead to leave enough time to dig out the story that your brand deserves to tell.
Second. Be bold and creative in your storytelling. Take a risk and above all be true to yourself. As Rollo May aptly said it takes a tremendous amount of courage to create – especially where failure might mean losing your job. But in most cases (unless you really muck up) that’s not likely to happen. And consider the monster upside of producing inspired work. Fame? Fortune? Probably not, but a promotion, maybe. Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Still too etherial? Ok, try this.
Here’s an incredible example of branded storytelling. It’s a spot for Johnnie Walker Whisky. The story is compelling, powerful, and deeply emotive. It’s shocking and inspiring all at once. It makes you feel happy and sad all within a minute.
My favorite part about this business video is that it wasn’t actually commissioned by Johnnie Walker but rather was created by two filmmakers who saw a story in the brand. Would Johnnie Walker brands have produced so bold an ad on their own? Who knows. But I certainly hope that this piece inspires you to start thinking outside conference room with your business films.