Do you need some help determining the best type of video for your company or organization? We at Barking Squirrel Media have compiled a list of the best approaches to corporate storytelling, with video examples. As a film production company that specializes in corporate storytelling, we know these approaches engage hearts, change minds and drive measurable action for a brand.
#1 The Hero’s Journey
The Hero’s Journey approach to storytelling is an emotional and strategic way of telling your company’s story through the experience of your customer, employee, or an organizational member. It is based upon the time tested story arch where a hero (your customer) has a problem he can’t solve and needs the help of someone else (your company) to help him overcome his obstacles in life so that he can get what he wants. Most novels and great movies are based upon this storytelling approach and done well, it is engaging, informative, and has the capacity to change thinking and behavior. These videos are cinematic in nature, are scripted and storyboard and require the sophistication of a reputable production house that can handle all aspect of production (pre-production, production and post-production). The hero could be an authentic customer or may require the skill of professional talent. Below are two examples. The first features a mixture of professional talent and company employees and the narrative is delivered by the talent through voice over. The second example is also a mixture of talent and company employees and the actress talks to the camera to tell her story. For more information, go to https://barkingsquirrelmedia.com/corporate-videos-and-storytelling/
#2 Voice Over Driven Story with Powerful B-roll
Sometimes a brand wants their story to feature their own people in the film (rather than professional actors), but they need the language in the story to be brand precise and concise. The testimonial approach, where real people talk on camera, lacks the exactness needed in the brand narrative. Therefore, scripting the video is crucial and a voice over artist carries the video’s narrative. The B-roll visuals (which should be storyboarded) show real people in the company doing the on-camera action. Compelling and creative b-roll how the story is visually told. It’s not possible to emphasize enough the importance of storytelling b-roll. It most likely will show selected people doing their jobs, going to meetings, designing and creating the product or service, interacting with customers and showing who they are and what they do. A video production company will have directors gifted in utilizing your workers to recreate a few story events to bring life to your video. Such films mandate a film production company that understands the art of directing, blocking, lighting, camera angels/movement and has the crew to make it happen. A modest film crew will have a producer, director, director of photography, gaffer, grips, audio and may necessitate an assistant camera and assistant director. Skilled production crews take the ordinary and make it look extraordinary! They are well worth the investment.
#3 Talent Driven Story
Never underestimate the value professional actors bring to a corporate film. Whether you are producing a Hero’s Journey film or an informational video, talent brings the nuances of energy, engagement, and entertainment to a video that are difficult to achieve with non-professionals. Often the resistance brands have to talent is the issue of authenticity. No doubt, authenticity is critically important in this age, however, how it is achieved is the question. Just because you film real people from your company speaking genuinely about the company does not mean that it will feel authentic. Non-actors often are nervous in front of lights and camera and the end result is that the video feels awkward. Professionals understand the power of facial expressions, body movement, the musical flow of language, and the power of emotional subtlety. All of this can make the script come to life and feel most authentic.
#4 Day in the Life
Another approach to creating authenticity is to tell the story of a customer or employee by filming them using your product and doing their job from sunup to sundown. The viewer feels that they are privy to a hidden part of the hero’s private life and that creates a sense of intimacy in the storytelling. The individual talks about the details of their life in their own words while they go about her day. And if the product or service they are using throughout the day adds value to their life or career, the viewer doesn’t feel as though a hard sale is being forced upon them. That cultivates trust in your brand. Companies like Patagonia and Yeti have understood the power such an approach yields in connecting to their customers.
#5 Testimonial With B-roll (mini-doc)
One of the ways brands have cut through all the digital noise of advertising is to film customers or employees talking in their own words about their experience with a product or service. In its simplest from, the video may feature a number of people describing why they like the brand. A more visually engaging method is to offer b-roll footage of what the people are talking about. If the customer is talking about tennis shoes, then we want to see them lace those shoes up and play tennis. If the employee talks about what he enjoys most about his job, we want to see him doing it. When handled by a skilled video production company, testimonials can be quite effective. A word of caution. Testimonial with no b-roll can become dreadfully boring because no one wants to see talking heads for very long. But if we get to see what the interviewee is discussing, our interest is maintained for longer periods. And if the comments are arranged by the editor to tell an actual story, then the video becomes even more interesting. The down side to testimonials is that they have been overdone in many circles causing audiences to be immune to the approach.
#6 Voice Over/Testimonial Hybrids
For brands that want the authenticity of testimonials and yet want the exactness and concision of a script, you may want to consider a hybrid approach. The entire video is scripted to control the narrative for a voice over artist or on-camera talent. The script has been storyboarded so that the b-roll visualization of the story is entertaining. However, testimonial comments from customers/employees are inserted into strategic moments of the video to add a touch of the genuine. In a sense, you get the best of both worlds: the genuine and the creative.
#7 A Creative Concept Video
Sometimes, a creative concept is the most compelling way to engage an audience and represent a brand. This is the playground of Ad Agencies and Production Houses. They often are built around a singular fascinating idea that resonate at a deeply human level but can be leveraged to represent the broad mission of a company. GE is the master of such commercial films. The production value and cost of such films is enormous but the inspiration they give to an audience is priceless. Concept films are designed to engage the emotional core, change the way people think and most of all…inspire.
#8 Product Demonstration/Product Review
A video that shows the product being used or reviewed is an excellent way to convert the interested shopper into an actual buyers. Opening a package creates an endorphin rush for a buyer in an age when brands put a lot of creativity into the design of the package. Watching someone else opening the package is almost as exciting as doing it ourselves. Even more exciting is to see the product in use and hearing the buyer talk about all the great features of the product. This is much more informative and emotional than just seeing a product picture and reading a product description on a webpage.
#9 Sizzle Reel
Sizzle reels are a great way of highlighting the best moments of an event. Usually they require no script, talent, storyboard, or audio and are far less time consuming and expensive to produce. Generally a sizzle real requires only one to two videographers and an editor to cut the footage into a quick-moving video undergirded with high energy music. They also tend to be only a couple minutes in length, with the exception of a trades how reel as is seen below. If you want to create some energy around an event for advertising, a sizzle reel can do the trick.
Cincinnati Robotic Viper
#10 Animated Explainer Videos/ White Board Videos
Simple animated videos can be an engaging way of relaying information. They are particularly effective in breaking down complicated processes and concepts and making them easily understood. By using pre-existing graphic assets that come with animation programs, almost anyone with a laptop can produce a 60 second explainer video. You can record your own voice over and use the point and click user interface to move graphic objects on the screen and away you go. Animated videos are great for startups that need to advertise but don’t yet have products to show and facilities in which to film.
There is one caveat though. If you need detailed graphic assets created, more sophisticated movement and a longer play time, animation will require a graphic designer and animator and that can be quite expensive.
#11 Tutorial/How To video
Youtube has brought us millions of Tutorial and How To videos. The range of production quality ranges from filming with a cell phone to a full film production company. When you are in the midst of a home or car repair project and you need help fast, there’s nothing better than doing a google search for a tutorial video to guide you through the project. For bigger brands, providing a library of How To videos is a great way to provide your customers with a great experience with your product and it removes the frustration of assembly or repair problems.
Infomercials may drive many of us crazy, but for the right market and with the right agency, they can be most effective in creating sales. When you look under the hood of good Infomercials, you will see they are very sophisticated and complexed. There is a real art to producing an infomercial. At the core, there are five crucial components to infomercials:
- Create Awareness (show product, show it in use, establish relatable context for uses, frequent mention of product name)
- Create Need (rhetorical questions – have you ever…? suggests that you the viewer are familiar with the problem)
- Create Urgency (hurry – limited time offers, implied scarcity – supplies are limited)
- Evaluate Choices (compare product to the competition – appeals to the rational)
- Resolve Final Risk (mitigate the viewer’s sense of risk by offering, money back guarantee, warranty, etc.)
Additionally, most 30 minute infomercial are made up of 3-4 different mini stories. Rather than telling one story at a time, infomercials understand the short attention spans of their audience, and alternate between telling a little bit of one story, then another and then another. Then you tease your audience with promises of what is coming up further in the video that will be a must-see, something life-changing. The promise and the anticipation keeps you watching and waiting. Another feature of infomercials is to compress and front load the most crucial aspects of the Infomercial in the opening minutes so that if the viewer changes stations, they still know enough about the product to remember it. The complexities of Informercials are beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that they are highly effective in selling certain products to specific markets. If this is something your company is interested in, you will most likely need to work with three agencies: infomercial specialists, an ad agency and a production house.
#13 Event Video
Another way to make the contents of your events available to larger audiences is the traditional path of hiring a team of videographers to film all aspects of the event and edit it down to its crucial moments after the event. This has been a traditional video pattern for Chamber of Commerce dinners around the country that want to make the energy their events and the presentation of the guest speaker available to online audiences afterwards.
ACA Event Video
#14 Stop Action /Puppets
If you remember the show “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer,” you are familiar with the look of stop action. Simply put, characters are made of clay (or other materials) and are shaped, moved and photographed one frame at a time and then all the thousands of photos are lined up one after another in an editing program and turned into a film. This approach is very, very time intensive and often requires multiple people working long days to produce a few seconds of content. If your video is 30 minutes, it may require weeks and months to produce and that is extremely expensive. For this reason, computer generated 2D and 3D animation is almost always more economical. But no one can deny that the look and feel of stop action is amazing and endearing and sometimes it is the best way to tell a story.
Another approach is the use of puppets. Below is an example of how a brand was launched using a puppet cat or dog and a real cat or dog. It’s funny, entertaining and relays some crucial information about the new product.
#15 Ted Talks
Since 1984, thought leaders have informed and inspire audiences nationwide with Ted Talks. The filming format requires at least 3-4 cameras (for varied camera angels and perspectives), a well lite stage, a large presentation screen, an audience and a dynamic speaker that is talented enough to captivate an audience for 18 minutes (or less). In this format, it is the speaker, not the creative concepts and skill of a production house that makes the video compelling. A word of caution. Just because your CEO is smart and good looking does not mean he or she will be able to do a Ted Talk. This is a skill and art that takes a great deal of training as a speaker and a communicator.
How To Make Stress Your Friend
The traditional news approach to an interview may be the better choice for most CEO’s and thought leaders because it does not require the extensive talent and training of a Ted Talk. The pressure here is upon the interviewer to draw forth insightful comments from the interviewee and the editor in post to find the best moments and weave them together in a compelling way. This can be done with as few as 3 cameras (or as many as 5+) and a more traditional 3 point lighting approaches for each on-camera person. There is no b-roll involve in an interview format and it is the variety of camera angles and the back and forth dialogue that keeps the audience captivated. `
#17 Behind the Scenes
People love being able to peer through the curtain to learn how a movie was made and what people are truly like in real life. Behind the Scenes photos and videos are great for social media engagement. But it’s no longer just for production houses. Corporate America has discovered that the Behind the Scenes approach is a marvelous way to give their clients insight into who they are, how they work, and what they do. Some companies have even made it fun and entertaining by taking a videographer around the work place and asking them silly questions. Such an approach humanizes a company, cultivates trust and nurtures relationships.
Behind the Scenes with Spiderman
#18 User Generated Content
In this age of authenticity, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to connect with a targeted audience is to run a campaign that asks your customers to talk about your products or services via a cell phone video and send it to you. You choose the ones you like and put them on a page on your website or have an editor create a single video using the best comments in an order and pace that is exciting to the viewer. As a rule, a UGC approach is a supplement to a library of well-produced commercials and cinematic stories on your website but they do supply a sense of raw authenticity that produced films may not. If for no other reason, UGC videos engage your customers with your brand and rewards them with exposure on your social media platforms.
One of the more famous examples of a user video that has taken Youtube by storm is Ryan’s Toys Reviews.
#19 Live Broadcast
Live broadcasting is becoming a new and exciting option in video marketing. Imagine this. Your company is sponsoring an event where 3-6 authorities will speak on trending topics of interest to your clients, but seating is limited at the event and you have people around the world that want to be part of the event. With the technology of social media platforms such as Facebook, a production company with multiple cameras covering the different speakers, and a hardware interface to broadcast the event live, there is no limit to how many people can view your event virtually. What only major networks could traditionally produce, now a small company with a limited budget can produce a show and broadcast it worldwide. And it requires no astronomical million dollar plus media buy budget to broadcast. Another advantage to live broadcast is that there is no editing of the video after the event. The producer is editing the video in real time as he switches from camera to camera in live time.
We would love to hear from you and learn more about your needs for corporate video. Please call us at 513-342-8090 or email us at office@barkingsquirrelmedia.
Written by Dr. David K Bray
President/Producer, Barking Squirrel Media