Does this sound familiar? You know YouTube is important, but you’re certain real success is only reserved for big brands. So you settle for non-imaginative videos that don’t move your audience… leaving real success to those big brands.

To make it easier for you to find YouTube stardom, I analysed 9 strategies big brands use to tell stories that cultivate company messages, spark emotions and entice their audiences to take actions. These strategies aren’t as simple to apply as a quick explainer video, but anyone can do it, no matter your company size or budget.

#1 Go Deeper than Product Pain Points

You know you’ve got to understand your audience’s product-related pain points, but everyone talks about the obvious. It’s time to develop deeper emotional connections with your viewers by showing them you get what really makes them tick.

Dick’s Sporting Goods sells sports apparel and gear, so it makes sense their video features women practicing sports. But their video doesn’t talk about the quality of their running shoes – it tells the story of the almost insurmountable effort it takes for busy moms to put these shoes on and put themselves first. Instead of talking about product features, Dick’s Sporting Good focuses on the emotional benefits of making that choice for yourself even when it feels impossible. It makes you want to put on their running shoes, so you too can be everything you dream to be.

#2 Make the Familiar… Unfamiliar

Ever heard the same messages echoing again and again through industry videos, that you stopped listening? Like art, marketing is supposed to make you feel. Art, wrote literary theorist Viktor Shklovsky in 1917, makes the familiar… unfamiliar. It makes “a stone feel stony” and helps folks living by the sea to once again hear the waves.

To do that, Ikea’s video features a man, his eyes sparkling with excitement, talking about “a device so simple… it feels almost familiar”. As we see the Ikea catalog, the man explains, “It’s not… an ebook – it’s a bookbook”. He explains how this physical book works, as if it was a smart device with an innovative interface. It’s an unexpected way make us miss the simple things, like cuddling in (an Ikea) bed or sofa with a real book, a book-book.

#3 Bring the Unfamiliar Close to Home

Sometimes your target audience is indifferent and doesn’t understand how what you’re promoting relates to them or affects them. That’s what nonprofit Save the Children faced when it tried to convince the Western world to help kids impacted by the war in Syria. So it brought war to the Western world. Its video shows a girl celebrating her birthday in the UK, hanging out with family and friends… until war strikes right there, in the UK:

Structures collapse. She doesn’t have enough water, needs to wear a gas mask, loses her hair, gets separated from her dad as she runs for safety. She no longer has enough hope to make a birthday wish. Save the Children made war specific and visual. Next time viewers are asked to get involved in Syria-related efforts, they’ll see a face attached to it.

#4 Evoke a Powerful Emotion

Product showcases are common on YouTube. To stand out, showcase the story behind your product or its unexpected impact. Microsoft’s emotional video shows how their technologies go beyond everyday computers. They help a boy with no legs play sports, for example.

When all things are equal, people buy from companies that make a difference. This video shows how Microsoft’s product implementations create a better world. Plus, the emotions it evokes will stick with you through your next buying decision.

#5 Bring Humor to the Table

Motorola’s video shows close-ups on emotional faces of two men building a selfie stick. The music is the kind you’d hear in videos that ask to pull your heart-strings, but the video mocks the medium. Creating the selfie stick, explain the men, is “like when the sun turns the rain into a rainbow”. You see, they explain, “a selfie [is] only as good as its stick”.

The video is here to help us have a good time, just like a selfie stick exists to help us capture our good times.

#6 Sing and Dance for Your Audience

Only one in the 100 most shared videos of all times isn’t a music video. Singing and dancing to your viewers is a powerful way to entertain them, get them emerged in the emotions music quickly stirs, and leave a stamp on their hearts.

That’s what luxury fashion brand Burberry did with its trackvertisement. You understand the Burberry box’s part in a romantic young love story, but it doesn’t feel like an advertisement. You focus on the story, the music, the dance… and the young boy this man used to be before tapping into the Burberry magic. Next time you run into the Burberry brand, your senses will kick in. You’ll buy their products to relive these feelings – and because you’ll feel like dancing.

#7 Music Brings People Together

It can bring you and your audience together by sharing company spirit and humanizing your brand. Israeli marketing agency Tross did it with hardly any budget. Its staff sat in front of a camera and recorded a song about their target audience – startups – with two team members playing musical instruments. Tross shows you don’t need to overcomplicate things – simply show your personality.

#8 Ramp Up The Cute Effect

Puppies, kittens and kids are big on bringing in brand love. It’s hard to resist how they make our hearts melt. The cute effect is even more popular now, that drag and drop animation software and stock video subscriptions are more accessible. If you want to stand out, consider other cute options.

Coca Cola got a penguin to interrupt two polar bears’ Super Bowl watching time just to get its hand on a coca cola bottle. The commercial wouldn’t have worked so well with a couple of stereotyped men watching the game. Despite the robbery attempt, the (silent) video ends on a happy note that puts smiles on both the characters and the viewers’ faces, aligning with Coca Cola’s mission to help you “open happiness”.

#9 Make Use of Metaphors

Metaphors make unexpected connections between two unrelated themes that differentiate our message. They tell us X is like Y and, even though we never would have thought of it before, we clearly see the connection.

JetBlue could have featured a business woman going on yet another flight. Its video would have looked like any other airline’s video. Instead, JetBlue featured an everyday urban bird. A frequent flier, the bird struggles to find space for its feet and settles for crumbs humans throw at it – just like airlines that barely invest in airplane food. All the bird wants is to feel respected… just like frequent fliers do. Using the metaphor, JetBlue tells a non-salesy story viewers can relate to, which proves it gets their experience. Therefore, JetBlue has a better chance to convince passengers to trust its commitment to creating better flying experiences.

#10 Defy Stereotypes

With video, you can make subtle statements that defy stereotypes without too much of an effort. Feature women engineers instead of men, older folks using technology instead of teens, and multiple ethnicities where, in the past, you would have only featured whites.

The world is aching for more diverse representations. Be the hero that makes it happen and you’ll gain new audiences – both because you’ll show your product works across sectors, and because you’ll gain audience appreciation for going against the grail. Honey Maid did that by featuring gay and interracial families in its video. We’re all humans, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone agreed. When you stand up for what you believe in, you’ll face objections. When you do, support your cause more than ever. When social media burst with negative comments, Honey Maid turned them into a beautiful piece of art that reinforced its messages that love is love.

Joyfully, Honey Maid received over 10 times as many positive messages as negative ones. They incorporated the positive messages in their art piece too, celebrating equality in another video that got audience love.

#11 Promote Customer Success Stories

Case studies of customer success prove you can defy the limits of perceived possibilities by showing you’ve done it before. Case studies are stories that touch pain points and answer objections in a non-salesy way. They create emotional connections between your audience and company… through the peer whose success they now want to imitate: Your satisfied customer.

Skype featured teenagers from the US and New Zealand. Each girl had a full life, but neither of their friends understood what it’s like to live with only one arm. Through Skype, the girls showed each other how to handle life with one arm, and became as close as sisters. Skype united the girls offline for a greater emotional effect. But letting customers tell their stories in their own words is what makes the impact, even without the budget to fly people across the world.

What YouTube Stardom is All About

At its core, YouTube success is about how you make your audience feel and what will stir up inside them when they see your brand name or product. Think of their needs and your brand values. Then, use the strategies above to express them both. Which strategy will you try next? Know a great one we left out? Leave a comment and let us know.