September 11, 2013
The request we hear most often these days? “Make us an epic, life-changing, ground-shaking brand anthem video.”
The mark of a great brand video is its ability to elicit powerful feelings. But that doesn’t mean you open with a grandiose cliché or a shot of the earth from space. You just need to capture your true, authentic brand in an interesting way. Here’s how:
Focus on who you are, not what you sell.
Some of the greatest brand videos never mention a brand name (though they might close with a logo). And they don’t make a direct sales request. Instead, they depict a lifestyle, a philosophy, a movement. The message? A good brand isn’t defined by what it sells, but by its values and character. Show your audiences that you’re part of something bigger.
Fewer words can mean bigger power.
A persuasive video doesn’t always rely on a moving script. This L.L. Bean piece — completely voiceover-free — kicked off the company’s Million Moment Mission to donate $1 million to the National Park Foundation. Beautiful shots illustrate the people and the mindset that embody the brand, underscored by an energetic piece of music.
Inspire an emotional investment.
A powerful brand video gives existing fans a sense of pride, even ownership. It makes them nod in agreement. It gives them something meaningful to share with others, which ultimately recruits new brand advocates. It does not make them feel like they’re hearing from the corporate office. No talking heads, timelines, or pie graphs. Nothing forced. Vans nails it by telling its story through the people who live the brand day in and day out.
Your story doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be true.
A video can be as simple as letting the founder tell the story of how the brand started, and then showing the many unique ways the world has adopted it. Here again, disparate images are stitched together by a gorgeous musical score.
Have a point of view, not many points of view.
Beautiful footage isn’t essential to making a great brand video. Apple proves this over and over, even when the visuals don’t include a single product. Here it’s about communicating a singular idea simply and elegantly.
Consider the effect of a strong build-up.
If you engage the viewer well, a good reveal can be very powerful. Take this piece from Internet Explorer, which hinges on a single thought that doesn’t appear till the very end.
Don’t be afraid to have fun.
If that’s what your brand is about, make sure it shows. Method’s brand is about being clean and happy, so its video is about being clean and happy. Product shots abound, but the products are used in unexpected ways. (Giant Lite-Brite, anyone?)
MAKING IT REAL: Seven Things to Know
Who is a brand video for?
It’s not just consumers or clients. It’s also for investors, potential partners, and employees—both current and future. So make sure your message applies to all these audiences.
What’s the shelf life?
Because it represents your brand at a high level, it should be relevant for several years.
What’s the difference between a brand anthem and a commercial?
Sometimes nothing. Many Nike spots make you feel like you can get up off the couch and do anything. Commercial or anthem? It’s a tough call. Length is often a determining factor, but content can be as well. If you’re pushing a specific product or action, it’s definitely a commercial.
How long should the video be?
As long as it takes to tell your story powerfully and succinctly. We know that people tend to lose interest near the two-minute mark, and often earlier. You need to hook viewers right away and sustain their interest throughout. Of course, there are great brand videos that run five minutes or more. If it’s a great story with visuals to match, go for it.
What about music?
Custom music is expensive. Licensed music is even more expensive. But both can totally carry a video. Stock music sounds a lot like stock music. Bottom line: invest in good music.
Where do brand videos live?
On your website, on YouTube, on Vimeo, at events, in recruiting and onboarding materials, in your workspace. Essentially, everywhere.
How much does it cost to make one?
How much does a car cost? The price varies widely depending on the make, model, and accessories. The same is true of brand videos: you can get one for $40,000, but spending more will get you a better product. And because they have a long shelf life and many applications, it’s smart to make the investment at the outset.