How to Strengthen Your Online Video Brand with the Primal Code [Creator's Tip #58]

In this week’s Creator’s Tip we again speak with Patrick Hanlon author of "Primal Branding: Create Zealots for Your Brand, Your Company, and Your Future." After reading his book, I started applying the seven aspects of the Primal Code to my personal vlog channel and started seeing a increase in engagement, our subscriber rate increased, we started getting more comments, and views increased, as well.

Earlier this week, we talked with Patrick about how to turn viewers into brand advocates through the art of primal branding. Today I share some of the practical ways in which I tried to implement the concepts of  Primal Branding into my personal vlog channel with the hope that it may provide you with a solid base for how to implement it into your online video content and start strengthening your community.

Applying the Primal Code for Online Video Communities

1) The Creation Story:  For people who were with me from the beginning they know about our back story. However, there are a number of viewers who jumped in later and it’s like jumping in the middle of a TV series and knowing none of the characters. To avoid this, I created a one-minute animated video that gave a brief background.

I chose animation because I wanted it to be engaging and interesting and felt that animation would be just different enough to hold people’s attention.

One of the things I do to ensure viewers know where to see this is at the end of every single video I put an annotation link to the video, giving viewers a call to action. Providing the creation story is important because it provides a link, something to make the viewers feel attached to the creator.

2) Creed: This came naturally to me which is basically my belief system. A lot of companies and organizations seem to forget this part. They do a great job of describing the content but forget to give the reason they believe in something.

3) Icons:  As mentioned before, icons are things that people associate with a video. Things that connect them to the video or they expect to see. For my vlog channel it would be things like my hat or even my kids.

4) Rituals: These are the things that are repeated over and over again that people learn to expect and look forward to. If you post your videos on a very regular schedule, like Creator’s Tip videos are scheduled every Thursday at 9 a.m. Pacific time or noon eastern time. Rituals are really the repeated engagements we have with the brand or with the brand community. They’re important, and they can be positive or negative. Having a negative experience or negative ritual, is not good. You want to make them positive. For my video, I always start with introducing the topic. The ritual includes the logo, intro, and content.

5) Language: These are the things that you commonly expect to hear from people that are things that only that particular community would really understand and know. It’s not just the words. The mannerisms, the articulation, and the vocalization are all part of it. They’re instantly identifiable. If you know the words you’re a part of that community.  How well you know them kind of sorts out where you fit within that hierarchy.  If you guys watch Chez Carl on YouTube, you know the “Hey! I’m vlogging here!” You’ve got that thing. Toby Turner has tons of different rituals and different sacred words in his videos that you learn to expect. You know, he does the, “bless you,” if you sneeze in the middle of the studio. You grow to expect that, and it has become a part of that. Only the people that are a part of his community know what he’s talking about.

6) Anti-Believers: There are always a group of non-believers who go against the code or creed.   With my videos my creed was basically that we believe that life is meant to be shared and the non-believers were all those who didn’t believe in that. Just realizing there is that piece was freeing for me as a creator because as a human we want everyone to like and watch our videos, but you have to realize that the content is not necessary for everyone in the entire world. It’s meant for your  niche and it helps you to better cater to that group.

7) Leader: This is the person that everyone looks up to. It’s the person that’s kind of leading the charge. The creation story’s often wrapped around them, as well, in some ways. The leader’s recreates the world from their point of view.  It’s really the leader’s responsibility to pull together all the seven pieces of primal code. When all seven of them are together, it’s just turn people’s heads around. People feel like there’s something whole there. There’s some kind of wholeness and completeness. For my vlog channel, my wife and I are definitely the leaders. You are probably the leader of your content. You probably have part of the primal code in place even though you may not realize it. The key here is to realize the role and the position that you play and to really capitalize on that. You need to pull the seven aspects together to really drive your brand.

QUESTION: How will you implement the Primal Code into your video content to strengthen your community?

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View The Full Video Transcript:

On this week’s Creator’s Tip video, we’re going to talk with Patrick Hanlon about Primal Branding, and I specifically want to talk with you guys about how I’ve implemented this in my online video strategy and the effects that it’s had. That and much more is coming up on this week’s Creator’s Tip.

Hey, guys! My name is Tim Schmoyer, and welcome to another Creator’s Tip video, where every week we just help you guys make your online video content stand out the best on the web. And this is Patrick Hanlon. He’s the author of Primal Branding, an awesome book if you guys haven’t checked it out yet. Last week we talked with him about what Primal Branding is, and we walked through the seven aspects of the primal code.

Keys to the primal code.

Yeah, and just how awesome that is. You guys left some great comments. Thank you so much for that. We’re going to talk today specifically about how this applies to online marketing and online content that you guys and myself are making here on YouTube. Let’s start off with the first piece, the creation story.

We’re going to talk in the context of my personal vlog channel, which is YouTube.com/godrox. That’s linked up below, and it’s just my family. We’re vlogging, just sharing our life stories together. Just whatever’s happening, this is what we shoot and share it with you guys. And so when I started thinking about primal branding in the context of these vlogs, I was thinking of the creation story. People who have been with us from the very beginning, they know our creation story because they were with us when I started back in 2006. But people who are jumping in later, I thought, it’s like jumping in the middle of a TV series and knowing none of the characters, what any of them stood for. So I thought it would be really important to create a creation story video. And so what I did is I made a one-minute animated video.

Animated?

Yeah, animated, because I wanted it to be engaging. I wanted people to be like, oh, this is different.

That’s cool.

So, yeah, it’s all 3D animated, and I think it looks slick. But that’s my opinion, and you guys can go check it out. I’ll link that up below as well. But it shares our story from the very beginning, and one of the things that I thought that I would do is link up to this videos an annotation at the end of every single video that we do. So if you’re introduced to one of our videos, at the end, first thing you see, the first call to action is who are these people?

The creation story is critically important because we want to know where we’re from. It’s an innate human need to figure out where things are from or find out. And a lot of times when I’m speaking to a group of people, it can be 100 people out there, and sometimes I’ll pick on some poor person, have them stand up, and I say who are you? Where were you born? Where’d you go to high school? Did you go to college, yes or no? Are you married, yes or no? It’s a laugh. And then if they have kids, yes or no? And just from those five questions, automatically people feel better about that person. We’re in a group of strangers. They automatically feel better about that person than anyone else in the room. That’s one piece of primal code.

Yeah, because I think the story of where you came from tells so much about who you are, right? And people can relate to that and identify with that way better than if you just like, hey, look at my awesome content. This is my awesome video. People are like, it’s alright, but I don’t really care about it because they don’t care about you. They need to care about you.

When you’re on the radio about a new band or something like that, it’s always about where they’re from. Yeah, they were in college together, or I just heard one last night. The two guys were college roommates, bunk beds, and they started this group. That was the beginning.

Yeah, and so that really makes a huge difference, how people attach themselves to your content. So I decided there my strategy. I’m going to make it and the only call to action, even bigger than subscribe or anything else, is go watch our creation story. The creed is the second part, and for me that came kind of naturally. The stuff I do full time is definitely not coming very easily, as I think sounds more normal from what you were saying before that. Finding your creed and your we believe blank statement. Is that how you format?

Yeah, the creed is especially important, and it is hard to come up with because it’s what you’re all about. What do you believe in? What are your values? Why do you exist? Why do you come to work in the morning? And that’s not easy stuff to figure out. If you go to the bookstore, ¾ of the bookstore is about that.

This is so important because I think a lot of the companies and organizations that I see in content creators and marketers, their tagline describes the content, not the what we believe about the content. And the what we believe statement is so powerful because what you’re asking people to do is, people who believe what you believe in, they’re joining you, becoming part of that narrative community that says yes, I believe in this two. Rather than if you say this is what we do and it describes the content, as soon as someone comes along and does that content or does what you do better than you do, they’re going to jump ship and they’re going to go somewhere else. Whereas if it’s I believe in that person or that company, that organization, that brand, because of what they believe in, then someone else can do it way better, but they’re still going to stick with your stuff. Is that true?

Yeah, there’s an important distinction to make here because a lot of peoples lines of what they believe in, whether it’s think different or just do it or whatever, can often times be about the product or service. And really the brand is this thing that drags the community together. Often times it’s the radiance from the brand. It’s about some higher order of peace. And a great example of that is people point to Apple all the time. So I apologize for that.

I love Apple. That’s fine.

But the Think Different, as many people know, was created at a time when Steve Jobs had just come back to Apple. They didn’t have any product. I think they had about three months worth of money left before the company would go out of business. There was nothing really. Steve Jobs just needed time to create the iMac. And so in lieu of nothing else, they had to go to this higher order thing, which became Think Different, about what community was all about, not what the product was all about or how many gigs it had. I don’t know if it had gigs. It wasn’t about the screen or the mouse or anything like that. It was about the people who owned it.

And to your point, you talk about this in your book. You say IBM’s slogan at that time was Think. Right?

Back in the 50s, yeah. Watson at IBM, he had a sign over at IBM. You can Google this and find it in the images, a sign that said Think. So Think Different was really positioning.

Against someone, which talks about the pagans and the nonbelievers, which is also really important. But before we get there, as far as the Creed for my stuff, for our personal vlog channel, we came up with we believe that life is meant to be shared. So our creed is life is meant to be shared. People who believe that with us, that life is supposed to be shared in the context of community, whether it’s in person or whether it’s online, that is really powerful, and people who believe that have really engaged more with our videos. But that’s also lended itself to the pagans or the nonbelievers, which are the people who don’t believe in what you believe

Mac versus PC, Coke versus Pepsi, Starbucks versus Duncan Donuts.

Yeah, those are the people who are like, it doesn’t matter what you do.

Chevy versus Ford, Red Sox versus Yankees, we could go on.

There’s a lot of them. These are people who never believe in what you’re doing. So for me, the pagans for our vlog channels are the people who get shared about us sharing intimate details of our life on the internet with other people.

Or people who just don’t want to watch you.

Yeah, they don’t have to be antagonistic. They can just be like that’s not for me.

Go to a music video.

Yeah, right. And that was very freeing for me because each of us wants everyone to watch our videos. We want the whole world to watch them, but once you understand that your content isn’t necessarily for the entire world, but that it’s for a niche and it’s for a community of people who really believe in what you’re doing, that’s when you start catering to that community.

And that’s a great distinction because marketers always want everyone to buy us, and it’s hard for us personally, emotionally, to leave anyone out or to think that someone may not want us. But that’s the case. You’re right. Understanding that and putting that aside and understanding that there are going to be people who don’t want you, and there are also going to be people who are very vocal about not wanting you is an important thing to just put into a box and move forward.

Another piece about all this for our vlog channel is the icons. And you said the things that people identify in the videos themselves, like I know I’m watching these guys because I see that piece there. For me, it would be this hat. I wear this hat. You guys know.

Orange couch.

Yeah, the orange couch for you. So think about the content you’re making. What is the piece that people come to recognize in all the content and all the video that you have. For me, also, it’s like my kids. They’ve become icons. They love our kids. They love watching them grow up, and the things that they’re learning.

Icons involve all the senses. It’s sight, certainly, but it’s also sound. What’s that chord in the Beatles song, for example?

Microsoft Intel has one, too.

Sound, smell, the smell of Abercrombie and Fitch, the smell of Cinnabons, walking through the therapists, the smell of your mother’s chocolate chip cookies. You know? The smell of your baby. There’s also taste, the taste of Starbucks, the taste of McDonald’s french fries, the taste of Oreos. There’s also colors and so forth that are associated with it. Touch, certainly. So they involve all the senses.

Another really important part of the primal code is the rituals. And these are the things that are repeated over and over again that people learn to expect and look forward to. So for example, if you post your videos on a very regular schedule, like for example, these Creator’s Tip videos are every Thursday at 9 a.m. Pacific time or noon eastern time, so hopefully you guys learn that that’s when we’ll look forward to this episode or the Reel Web on Tuesdays at this same time, building that part into your regimen.

Yeah, Starbucks famously changed the ritual of how we have coffee in the morning. People used to go have coffee at home. Today they go to Starbucks or a place like a Starbucks. Rituals are really the repeated engagements we have with the brand or with the brand community. They’re very important. They can be positive or they can be negative. And having a negative experience, negative ritual, is not good. So you want to make them positive.

Would part of a ritual include, like let’s say for the formatted video, we start with introducing what we’re going to talk about. We’ve got the logo, intro, and then we get into the content. Is that pattern part of the ritual?

Yes, and actually the whole act of watching the video in the first place is part of the ritual.

Another really important part is the sacred words, and these are the things that you commonly expect to hear from people that are things that only that community would really understand and know.

Yeah, the words are part of the community, and if you know the words you’re a part of that community. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an Eskimo or a doctor, lawyer, baseball fan, chess player, computer geek, we all have our special words. Marketing, we all have our special words. And those who know those words are part of the community. How well you know them kind of sorts out where you fit within that hierarchy.

So if you guys watch Chez Carl on YouTube, you know the hey! I’m vlogging here! You’ve got that thing. Toby Turner has tons of different rituals and different sacred words that it has in his videos that you guys just learn to expect. You know, he does the bless you if you sneeze in the middle of the studio. That’s just, you grow to expect that, and that’s just something that has become a part of that. Only the people that are a part of his community know what he’s talking about.

Yeah, and actually, when you point out those examples, it’s not just the words. It’s the mannerisms and the articulation, the vocalization, and all of that that’s a part of it. And they’re instantly identifiable. They become iconic, in a way.

And finally there’s the leader, which is the final part of the primal code. And this is the person that everyone kind of looks up to and is the person that’s kind of leading the charge. The creation story’s often wrapped around them, as well, in some ways.

A lot of the times, yeah. The leader’s the person that’s set out, usually, against all odds. They recreate the world from their own point of view. And it’s really the leader’s responsibility to pull together all the seven pieces of primal code because when all seven of them are together, it’s just turns people’s heads around. People feel like there’s something whole there. There’s some kind of wholeness and completeness.

So, for my vlog channel, my wife and I are definitely the leaders. Can you have two leaders? Can you have co-leaders like that or is it usually one person?

If it’s a couple like that, yeah. Yeah, with Conan, it’s Conan, and there are other people around him. But leader of the pack, he’s got a posse.

Yeah, my wife and I lead ours together, and for a lot of you guys who are making videos on your own, whether there’s flogs or something, a lot of you guys are probably the leader of your content. So you probably have part of the primal code in place even though you didn’t really realize it. The key here is to realize the role and the position that you play and to really capitalize on that so that you can put all the narrative together, the seven aspects, to really drive your brand, your content forward and when people can engage and identify all seven aspects of that, not on an intentional level but on a more subliminal level and all those pieces are there.

Yeah, it’s not about saying this is my icon. And a lot of story tellers do know this stuff instinctively. And a lot of people do put these pieces in place, but it’s understanding that they do need to be in place, what they are. It takes you a long way in terms of telling the narrative.

You guys, really, check out his book. I’ll link up to it below this video in the description. Definitely go check it out. I want to take this deeper, and it’s really important for you guys who want to move beyond just making good content, regular schedule, just kind of like that surface stuff of trying to get subscribers, trying to get viewers, trying to get people to engage. This narrative about your content really needs to be in place, and once it is, it will really blow your content out of the water in terms of success. So definitely check it out. And if you are a brand or a company that would like to work with Patrick directly and how you can develop this for your company, go check out Thinktopia.com. It’s linked up below as well. And you can get in touch with him there and develop something like a relationship between their company and yours, and he’ll be happy to really invest in you guys, to help you guys walk through that.

Thank you, guys, for hanging out with us. If this is your first time here, we’d love to have you subscribe. Make sure you click that button above this video here on YouTube. We’d love to have you every single week for these videos and more that we do for you guys. And we’d love to hear from you also in the comments. Let us know how you plan to implement some of this. The pieces that you’re missing of the primal code, tell us what those are and how you plan to fix that and implement that into your content strategy. That’d be awesome. Thanks for hanging out with us, guys. We’ll see you again next week for another Creator’s Tip video. Bye!

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About the Author -
Tim Schmoyer is the host of ReelSEO's Creator's Tip and the author of "30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel". You can see some of his personal videos on his Family Vlog Channel. View All Posts By -

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  • http://www.greenscreenstudios.ca/ Bruno Marsala

    Great video enjoyed last one as well. Tip on the creation story really makes sense. We helped a local builder who developed his own hand creme for builders and when we tell the story about how his product came to be it immediately created a buy in and helped sell a product that other wise would have been a tough sell – how many guys buy hand cream? They do after they hear the story. Thanks for sharing. Is the book available for kindle?

    • Tim Schmoyer

      Yes, I believe it's available for Kindle. Hope it helps you brand your own content well!

  • http://twitter.com/KZOInnovations KZO Innovations

    These are definitely some important tips to remember when creating online video for your business. Many businesses think they have no relevant content to offer, but any company can create a video covering topics like industry news, how-to videos, product demonstrations, employee interviews, or tips and advice. Companies like mine–KZO Innovations, (http://www.kzoinnovations.com) help businesses get started creating company videos ultimately leading to establishing the online brand you’ve described. Check out our website if you have a moment!

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