Remember the ’90s, when websites became a thing? Companies quickly needed to have one if they wanted to be taken seriously. We’re approaching that state with video — people expect it.
But there are a number of crucial questions you need to ask yourself (or your marketing department) before you commit budget and resources to creating, editing, publishing and distributing video content for your brand or organization. Asking yourself these questions, and providing honest and clearly thought-out answers, will ensure you’re telling the strongest story possible.
1. What is Your Goal for This Video?
Why do you want to make a video? If it’s because it seems like the thing to do, or your competitor has recently ridden a video to viral fame and you need to get in the game, dig deeper.
Start by defining your one main goal: Is it to build your reputation? Do you want to introduce a new product or simply explain what you do? Or maybe you need to raise awareness (and donations) for an important cause, like charity: water recently did with this inspiring story.
Articulating that objective will help — and should — inform all other decisions.
2. How Many Stories are You Trying to Tell?
It’s a marketing tale as old as time: the temptation to ram your entire marketing agenda into one piece. Resist. Instead, find the one story that most strongly supports your goal, the one thing people will want to share. So hone your company history to a compelling narrative arc, like The Lego Story does.
Or distill your product to its most salient benefit. For its 30th anniversary, Apple celebrated its promise to “put technology in the hands of the people.” It was shot entirely on iPhone in one day. For Nike FuelBand, it’s motivation on your wrist. If you can’t limit yourself to one story, do a “top 10” or “5 best” — just make sure each point is interesting and the pace snappy.
Specifics win over generalities every time. Keep your focus, and you’ll keep their attention.
3. Will the Video be True to Your Brand?
Your video should look and feel like it came from you, adhering to your brand guidelines and speaking to your corporate values. The TOMS Story is a charming animated history narrated by employees who have been with the shoe company from the start.
EDP, a foundation that supplies energy access to communities without electricity, created this backgrounder — about a brochure it created entirely without electricity — entirely without electricity itself. That’s being true to your brand.
4. Will the Video be Interesting Enough?
Sure, you need to meet your business objectives, but don’t let your brief show. All that work will be for naught if your audience couldn’t be bothered to watch. If you shoot it, they will not necessarily come… unless it’s interesting, unusual, moving, polished, concise, beautiful, or useful. Or some combination of the above.
You know what interesting looks like. It’s in the videos that make you cry or laugh. It’s there in the videos that get you thinking, talking, sharing, and buying. And “interesting” isn’t the sole domain of big budgets. If you can’t afford to shoot footage yourself, consider stock. Well-chosen stock, along with good editing and the right accompaniments, can be very effective. For instance, this immigration lawyer’s story (voiced by himself) was created exclusively with stock footage.
So while you’re crafting a video that serves your needs, remember that your audience has their own needs. If you don’t fulfill theirs, yours won’t be either.
5. Where is Your Video Most Likely to be Watched?
As you conceptualize your video, its final destination is a critical consideration. If it’s going to be a pre-roll ad, it had better grab people’s attention in the first few seconds … and keep it. If it’s a banner ad, it has its work cut out for it, amidst other ads and the content the user is actually there to read. Goodby Silverstein recently launched attention-grabbing banner ads that are even kind of useful.
If the video is going to appear on the usual social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., etc., etc. — pay attention to the nuances of each. As Gary Vaynerchuk states, “You need to be storytelling differently in those platforms. We have to be giving them different visuals that are mapped to the psychology … why they’re there.”
6. Is it the Right Length?
What is the right length, you ask? Well, it depends — on your goal, your story, and your audience. Vine and Instagram are affecting people’s attention levels, but that doesn’t mean every video must be 15 seconds or less. According to ComScore, the majority of videos watched online fall into the 1- to 5-minute range. And the median length of videos for million-dollar Kickstarters is almost 4 minutes. Here are some great examples of 6-second to 6-minute stories.
Even longer, “From One Second to the Next,” AT&T’s documentary about the perils of texting while driving, comes in at 35 minutes yet attracted more than a million viewers in its first five days. So there’s clearly an appetite and the attention level for longer formats, as long as the content supports and justifies the length.
Again, go back to your goal: do you want to pique customers’ interest or tell a deeper story? Can you adequately do that in 30 seconds, or do you need at least 20 minutes to do the story justice? Whatever the answer, ensure your video doesn’t overstay its welcome.
7. Is it Going to be Legal?
Corporate videos are, by definition, for commercial use, so make sure all your legal i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. Don’t steal images, logos, or music. Don’t imply endorsement from another company by showing its logos or products in a way that may suggest you have its cooperation — or from a band by using a “parody” of one of its songs, as GoldieBlox learned.
Treat others’ intellectual property and trademarks as you want others to respect yours. License music or use music available under a Creative Commons license. If you’re shooting footage yourself, get model or location releases when necessary. If ever in doubt, enlist the services of an intellectual property lawyer to help make the call. You don’t want to find yourself having to pull the video or, worse, facing a lawsuit.
For more examples of corporate videos done right, check out the winners of the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards.