Creating a successful branded business video that people enjoy and want to share isn’t easy. However, with some grounding in basic production techniques and a little care and attention, your video will be clocking up the views and likes in no time.
Read our step-by-step tips below, and download and share our infographic for an easy checklist!
1. What’s the goal of the video?
Like all marketing activities, having a goal in mind will help focus your time and energy in the right places. The goal of your video will shape your audience, tone, style and a host of other factors. The right goal will also help you measure the success of your video so you can be sure you’re hitting the right areas of your marketing plan and budget.
For example, you may be launching a new product, so the goal of the video will be to generate awareness and sales leads for the new product. You can measure this by the amount of online views you receive, web traffic from the video to your site and sales enquiries you receive in a given period.
2. Who’s going to be watching?
Knowing what your audience likes, wants and importantly what turns them off can turn your video from a ‘want to skip’ distraction to a ‘want to share’ memorable, entertaining piece of branding, like this interesting greeting video from Publicis Groupe CEO to his employees.
Who knows your customers better than you? Research, gather, collate all you know about your audience’s viewing habits and behaviour from your customer data. If your business is new to video, what videos are your competitors creating in this space and what are audiences saying about it?
3. What kind of video is this?
The type of video you create is going to flow from your goal and the context of your business. A slick, product promo video is going to look and feel different from a ‘how-to’ video delivered by one of your staff.
Apple’s iPhone 7 video about the power of Siri is very clear about what it is and how they want you to feel without directly telling you:
Knowing the types of content, the approach to take and the audience’s expectations about well-trodden video ground will pay dividends when planning and designing the look of your video.
4. What’s the topic?
You are the expert, you have the knowledge and you know what your audience needs - so give it to them (in chunks). The temptation with video is to pack some dense material in there in the belief that people will miss it if you don’t give it all to them.
If you’re making a ‘how-to’ video, break it down like chapters in a book. A two-minute video about how to perform a specific task is going to be viewed a lot more than several tasks all packed together in the same video, plus you get to sprinkle in more discreet brand messaging over several videos rather than just one.
What to share this infographic?Just copy this embed code and paste it into your website:
5. What’s the core message?
If producing something other than a ‘how-to’ video where the message will be in the title, like ‘How to Iron a Dress Shirt’ then you need to think hard about your core messaging.
The art of being concise really comes into play here - you need to say as much as possible in the fewest words possible. Also try testing it out on others around you (especially people outside your team). If they’re struggling to get it first time, then you need to finesse some more. Your audience will thank you for it and it will make the planning and direction of your video a whole bunch easier.
6. What’s your tone of voice?
Getting the tone right is tricky. You want to be authentic and true to your brand but also take a few risks with the creative treatment. The key here is to be yourself but better.
The ‘tone’ is how people feel and think about the video, and this comes from the creative. Does the person narrating sound like they belong? Is the music reflective of the brand values? Are the locations and visuals relevant to the customer's world?
Take a look at this great example from the charity Water is Life, where I think the tone is just right for the subject matter.
7. What kind of videos do you like?
Here’s a challenge - watch some videos you like about a similar subject matter and note the tone, style and visuals of each piece.
Was it fun and playful or authoritative? Does the video have an on-screen narrator or off-screen? Do they use animation, does it augment or detract from the story? What did you feel and why?
There any many creative elements that make a video successful and you should use tropes, styles and techniques that work for the context of your story.
8. Where will it be filmed?
When shooting live talking heads (including you!) or actors, choosing the right location can lift the production values and give the video a more filmic look. Think about where you could shoot that is interesting, quiet and relevant to your story. A brick wall is better than a bland grey wall, a walk through a lush garden will bring energy and life to any piece.
When shooting a project called Charlotte's Compass in Ibiza, London, Dublin and France, the multiple locations meant that extra production time was needed, so we had to factor in extra time and cost for travel. But as a result, it was a much more interesting piece than if we'd done it all in a studio.
9. What will it sound like?
Audio is half of any video. People can forgive an unflattering shot or some overexposure, but mess up the audio and your video is toast.
Not only do you need clean sounding, well-recorded voiceover and sound effects, but the right music track can subtly augment your story. However, the wrong one could force your audience to switch channels.
All this then needs to be mixed and optimised so the audience never thinks twice about what they’re listening to. This video from the British Army cleverly uses sound to convey an idea from their “This is belonging” series.
10. What animated elements do you need?
Animation and motion graphics have come a long way in the last 10 years or so, and the UK is now a world centre for animation and SFX.
What was previously the preserve of Disney and other big studios is now within reach of most businesses. Animation allows you to go places or show things that would otherwise be impossible - Illustrate how African deserts miss the rain? No problem! Visualise what the inside of a cow’s stomach looks like? You got it!
Videos can be full animations, composites or live action videos with a few motion graphics. At the bare minimum, you should always have well-presented on-screen text and your logo at the end of the video.
Take a look at the work of our lead animator, Alex Mallinson, in his showreel:
11. How long will it be?
In the world of online video, shorter is always better. A good starting point is about two minutes long, as this is what most audiences expect, so they’ll be more likely to watch it.
However, if your audience are tuning into your weekly ‘How to…’ YouTube channel, then you might have a ten-minute show or longer - you’ve worked hard to build an audience, and they want their weekly fix. The Slow Mo Guys publish their videos on average once a month and each video is about ten minutes long.
Business context, content type, audience and the goal of your video will all affect how long a piece needs to be. Rule of thumb: it should be as long as it needs to be and no longer.
12. What’s your deadline?
Well produced, great looking video takes time, and the best ideas can take even longer. Give yourself enough time to come up with an original concept, write the script and plan the shoot. This process (pre-production) should never be rushed.
A well-organised, single two-minute online video shoot should take a day or two. Editing can then take three to four days, so with pre-production time you should always plan for two weeks from the idea to the finished video.
13. How will you distribute the video?
There are many video platforms out there besides YouTube, and each one has it’s pros and cons.
For example, Facebook is great for social interaction with your video and targeting your audience, but it has a shorter lifespace as it drops off people’s feeds. Vimeo is better for more creative work and is the place to host for more ‘filmic’ projects.
A good tip is to go where your audience are – to the video platforms they use, and to the places that are already in your marketing mix.