Image above from Asana.
More and more, brands are choosing to create brand films over traditional commercials for their products. As social media has pushed modern audiences crave more authenticity, brands need to capture their identity in an engaging, exciting, and novel way — without compromising their central message.
In the following post we’ll take a look at the steps it take to create a beautiful and effective branded movie.
1. Always Reinforce the Mission Statement
Every successful company in the world is guided by a mission statement. Depending on your client, the mission statement can vary, but at the heart of every one is an appeal to emotion that transcends logic or processes. It is this emotion that will be at the center of your video.
Here at Shutterstock our mission statement is ‘Empower the World’s Storytellers’. Simply put, this statement drives everything we do, from the products we create to our marketing campaigns. If we were to craft a brand video for ourselves, it would center around these four powerful words.
That’s not to say that a brand video doesn’t have to appeal to logic or introduce a product, but if a brand film is focused on an appeal to reason over emotion it’s not likely to connect with audiences in the way a brand film should.
A great example of modern brand video comes from the project collaboration company Asana. Asana’s mission statement is:
“Help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly.”
Let’s think about that for a second: A software company’s mission statement is to “Help humanity thrive.” These words might initially seem disconnected from a tech company’s bottom line, but when Asana approached their brand film (seen below) their statement becomes tangible through storytelling.
At the end of the day your brand’s video is all about storytelling. What is the deeper narrative of your brand? What problem are you solving? What groups of people are you helping? How does your brand play a role in an industry, or in the world at large?
2. Creative Cohesion is Better Than Bold Novelty
For better or worse, every brand gravitates towards an aesthetic when creating content. While it’s not your job as a video professional to create your client’s visual identity from scratch, it is your job to interpret their identity and translate it visually. This is especially true if you are working with a small business, whose visual identity might be less developed.
Everything you do when working on a brand film — from color grade to music selection — needs to reinforce the client’s established, or desired, brand identity. Here are a few important questions to ask when establishing a ‘look’ for your video.
- What color grade should the video have?
- Does it need to have a professional aesthetic?
- Will the video reflect the company’s diversity?
- How do the graphics reinforce the brand?
- How does the music will reinforce the brand?
- Will the video use a tripod or shoulder rig?
- Should the depth of field be shallow or wide?
- Will the video feature narration or be driven by graphics?
- Will we need to purchase stock footage?
- Will the video be mostly recorded via camera or motion graphics?
The questions above aren’t necessarily all-encompassing, but it’s an important reminder that there are literally hundreds of creative questions that need to be asked when working on a brand film. As beauty is in the details, no detail is too little to contemplate.
Check out this brand film created for Cohen & Sons. You’ll notice that there isn’t an explicit call to action or a deeper narrative; the film simply introduces the brand to the audience. From the color grade to the out-of-focus elements in the foreground, every creative choice seems to complement one another.
3. Don’t Undervalue Custom Graphics
The importance of graphics that reinforce the brand can’t be overstated. Unfortunately, many video editors overthink this crucial aspect of the video process. While it may seem pedantic to focus so heavily on graphics, they are usually the last thing your audience sees before making a commitment to visit your client’s website or follow them on social media.
Sometimes, a simple white logo with a cross dissolve is enough. Most of the time, it isn’t.
Creating custom graphics for your brand is pretty difficult if you don’t have experience in After Effects or a similar program. This is where the beauty of After Effects templates come into play. By using a template you can create a custom look for your brand’s logo; you just need to drop the logo into a simple composition.
Below is an After Effects template from our sister site Rocketstock. The template is surprisingly easy to use even if you aren’t an After Effects expert.
4. Play Into Your Creative Strengths
Very few, if any, of your client’s will have huge budgets for their brand film. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll have to focus on heavily on cutting corners and saving money in order to work within the client’s budget. This is understandable. Luckily there are resources out there that can save you money in the long run.
Notably, if your project requires drone footage or establishing shots that are outside of your normal travel radius, you can easily find and purchase affordable stock footage that matches the tone of your video. Using stock footage isn’t cheating — it frees you up to focus on the creative tasks you are more deeply passionate about.
You might be thinking, “stock footage looks so… stocky.” But, with the influx of affordable prosumer cameras, stock footage has taken on a less-staged look in recent years, making it more human, more authentic, and more engaging — likely all complements to your brand’s identity. Shutterstock has millions of stock clips ranging from drone footage of New York City to macro shots of DNA to fill in the gaps of your video.
Here is one of our favorite collections of stock footage found on Shutterstock.
Beautiful Brand Film Gallery
In what is likely the most successful brand video in modern marketing, the Dollar Shave Club video seen below is the driving force that launched Dollar Shave Club from an obscure start-up to a $1 billion company.
This video created for the Jaguar F-Pace is a great example of a forced connection between the thrill of Tokyo nightlife and the exciting design of the F-Pace car. You’ll notice how the video plays on sensation-overload, much like the perceived identity of the car.
This video created for Cancer Research UK is a beautiful example of a brand video that defies expectations. Typically if you were tasked with creating a video that shares concepts like ‘molecular research’ or ‘clinical scientists’ you might think that a technical, sterile approach is appropriate. Yet the artists behind this film focused more on the people in the video rather than the process. The result is a clean and inviting video that makes concepts like ‘principle investigation’ seem exciting.