The Worst Branding Video Ever

By February 14, 2020Branding
Confused young man looking at laptop

The problem

What are the keys to using video to promote your brand? Let me put them right up front:

1. Refine your message. 

2. Speak to your target demographic.

3. Limit your use of stock images.

4. Don’t be insane.

Now let me explain.

I just got done watching perhaps the worst corporate branding video I have ever seen. The pacing was off. The statements made no sense. They used a lot of corporate stock video that I am willing to bet was shot in the 90s. There was a young girl flying thought the sky waving her arms at cartoon city scapes. And I don’t know why. The script was bizarre. Here’s an example, “[name of company] is always there for you… now and forever!” (I guess that’s comforting, but do I really need a brand to be eternal?)

And lastly, at the end of the video, I am still not sure what they do. To spend money to make a branding video and at the end have the viewer not know what you do is insane. I won’t out the company here because later I will be sending them, a “Please, for the love of everything sacred, let me help you!” email. 

What to do

Your company’s branding video is probably much, much better. But let’s check just to make sure:

1. Refine your message – You could talk for days about what a great company you are. But you have the viewers’ undivided attention for maybe :45 – :90 seconds. So what is the one thing that defines you? Go with that. Here’s a company I worked with that puts it right up front on their website. Their corporate communication is on point with who they are too. Go and do likewise.

2. Speak to your target demographic. – I can’t tell you how many times I sit with clients who try to tell me that everyone is in their target demo. Yes, I get that you want to sell your product or service to anyone who wants to buy it. I do too. But you and I both know there is a segment that is more likely to buy. You have to know what they want, how they consume media and what they watch and listen to. Then you have to put your message into a context that meets them where they are.

I worked on a web design once with a wealth management company who stressed the importance of using images of women, people of color, and gay and lesbian couples, on their website. They wanted to show their support for these underserved people groups. But they acknowledged that 90% of their clientele were white men, aged 60-70. I had to walk them back from their plans.

It is one thing to talk ABOUT the people you are passionate about and and another to talk TO the people you are passionate about. A company’s brand video or website, for that matter, should talk to the people you are most likely to win the business of. Instead, we decided to use imagery that would resonate with their primary user and promote all of the charitable work the company does to benefit others on a different section of the site.

3. Limit your use of stock images. – This one gets me in trouble. I produce videos for a living and I know how important and effective stock imagery can be. But it has to be used judiciously. Most people are savvy media consumers and can spot incongruent patterns. If you show a perfectly lit conference room on the 75th floor of a Manhattan high-rise where unusually beautiful people who are impeccably dressed in matching colors rise from their chairs in slow motion in unison to shake hands confidently – well… let’s just say it makes an impression. And when we look at other images on your site and see that they don’t seem to match the images of those skinny, model types in business suits from your video, we begin to feel a degree of cognitive dissonance.

Now, I realize that bringing a crew in to light, set dress, rehearse, and shoot your actual people handshaking in slo-mo may be beyond your budget. So instead, work toward getting b-roll that is less expensive but more authentic to who you are. Even so, stock images that help us feel something about your product/service or your brand can be leveraged very effectively – when they are used to help the viewer get an impression of how they themselves will feel working with you or buying your product. And that is the key.

4. Don’t be insane. – Do I need to tell you how important it is to make your investment in a company imaging video count? Choose a production company that wants to talk with you about how you intend to use this video. (Consider this one, if you please.) If you hire someone but have a “one and done” video mentality, you are not putting yourself or the production company in a position to make this video do a lot of work for you. Why? Because it is just one spoke in a large wheel that is your marketing strategy.

You don’t have to commit to the production company to have them do all of your videos. But if you’re not having discussions about the look of the video, the tone, who will be featured and why, how it will be shot and edited in light of how your website looks, or your other marketing initiatives, you’re missing out on strategic synergies that can be leveraged when your viewer digs deeper to get to know you better. See the note about cognitive dissonance above.

And secondly, for goodness sake, tell the viewer who you are and what you do. To overlook that is just nuts.

Make a (good) impression

Here’s the takeaway: Working with a production company is an opportunity to reassess the way you see yourself and the way you want others to see you. Just like you check the mirror before heading out on a date, your video should be a fresh expression of your best. It probably won’t be the last video you make, so don’t be paralyzed by the possibilities. But it is important. If you feel your company’s promotional video checks all the boxes, awesome. If not, I encourage you to work with someone you can trust. Choose someone who can hold you accountable to do the hard work of making sure your message is on point, speaking to the right audience in the right way, looks and sounds authentic, and isn’t so high-minded that it forgets to be practical.

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