A Producers insight to making a successful corporate video (1 of 3)
By Lorne Guy Producer-Director, 17 years film production experience.
Are you tasked with creating video content for your organisation? Promoting a new product? training film? or brand advert?
I’ve Produced and Directed over 200 corporate videos for organisations such as the NHS, the Home Office, the Police and ads for Gillette, Palm and the Pharmaceutical sector. In that time I have developed a process I use with clients that leads to successful films, works for any budget and does not rely on expensive productions to make an impact.
STAGE ONE : ‘Why’ and ‘Who’ ? Questions to ask before you call Spielberg.
What is the single reason for the film? One line or sentence should make it clear what the film is being made for, a new product?, training?, recruitment or company announcement?
Of course, there can be sub targets including brand awareness, client engagement and increasing SEO traffic etc. but these can be included as sub text and not the films key reason. If there are say, 3-4 ‘whys’ the films message can be confused. Here’s an example of confused brief –
“We want a video that will launch our new product to a new market but also train up clients and our specialist staff and talk about our brand history. We also want to include details of our other products and a social ethos message
A film like this becomes a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ and can easily confuse and disengage an audience. The target reason would be lost in a long content heavy film.
Note: A short 30-60 second film can have as big a truthful emotional impact as longer films. Perceived length is often about feel and pace and not minutes and seconds. Online corporate films 5+years ago were on average 5-7 minutes, but today a film aimed at an online audience will range from a 10 sec Facebook/Instagram film to an average of 2-3mins. This is not the same for training films and internal films aimed at a ‘captured’ audience that can be much longer.
The ‘why’ helps keep the project on track and is useful to refer back to during what might be a process of weeks or months. It also give clues to possible creative approaches.
TIP: Write the ‘Why’ or ‘Reason’ in one sentence.
TIP: Create a title. It doesn’t need to win an Oscar but it concentrates the minds of all involved about what the film actually is.
Note: In drama development if a script does not have a title it’s seen as a sign that the writer does not know what is at the heart of their story. The same is true for a 2 min corporate.
Who is the primary audience?
The ‘Who’ also determines what type of video you make. It’s important to identify one primary audience.
A video that tries to be everything to everybody can lack direction or even become patronising. This doesn’t mean the video can’t appeal to a variety of audiences but the need to understand its success (or ROI) depends on who this will be measured against.
Is the audience external or internal? Does it have prior knowledge of your business sector? Is the company promoting itself to a new audience that doesn’t know the sector? For example, a chemical manufacturing company like BASF creates public facing videos that ‘sell’ the ethics of the brand and to show how the company outputs benefits the wider society to an ‘unknowing’ audience. It also creates very sector specific films to a ‘knowing’ audience.
Tip: Ask yourself what do you want the intended audience to feel, say or action, after seeing the film?
It is important to judge the verbal, written and visual language for the right audience. Sector specific jargon can confuse an unknowing audience and simplified language can patronise a knowledgeable one. I’ve created external and internal videos for police where communication jargon is key for internal training videos but is avoided for public facing films. Its important as we get to the ideas stage to understand the power of the image and to be careful not to duplicating visual messages with text. An audience can absorb vast amounts of different elements of information in short sequences if delivered correctly and script development is important here.
Note a promo script is not just dialogue but includes location, action, text and voice over. More on scripts in the Stage 2 blog.
3. Avoid creating by committee
When identifying that single target reason, you may not be surprised by just how muddy it can become when large committees are involved.
I am not referring to teams of 3-4 heading the project or senior sign offs but large committees who have the power to steer a creative idea. This can often lead to video cliché or a confused message and an increased budget. Human ‘corporate’ nature being as it is, if there are 15 people each with their own agenda there are likely to be 15 directions from 15 different angles who may not understand the identified audience. It’s a common reason for budgets to overrun as near completed films are reworked to shoehorn in new ideas.
TIP: If committees are to be involved do structure the scheduled feedback, so the ‘why’ and ‘who’ are clearly laid out early on via an internal brief. Have clear markers on what specific areas of feedback is sought and build these into the workflow and edit drafts to avoid overrunning.
Often the film will be part of a wider campaign or brand strategy? Brand logos, pantones and fonts can influence the whole idea approach and execution of the film and influence how the film will look. This includes its colour grade, pace, music and tone.
It’s very important for the video producer to know early in the process if the film needs to fit within a campaign as this can help the creative direction with some key brand rules and targets.
TIP: Any wider campaign plan should be included within the creative brief.
- Set out the ‘Why’ and the ‘Who’ clearly to guide the whole process.
- Write the key reason in one line and stick to it.
- Create a film title that sums up what the film is to any project team
- Avoid creating by committee.
- Include any campaign strategy within the brief.
Next time….. STAGE 2 – BUDGETS, BRIEFS and IDEAS
How to shape ideas into a brief and how to advise or tender to production companies or internal video comms.
By Lorne Guywww.goodguysproductions.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org