“Video is king.”
This is one phrase that gets thrown around a lot in digital marketing discussions. In this insights article, we focus on one particular type of video, the branded video content. What does it mean for a brand and how do we ensure a brand is present beyond just a logo?
Branded video can be simply described as a creative video content containing elements which are influenced by the brand. Creativity and content are prioritised while the brand is seen, felt or heard through elements ranging from logo exposure to product placement, or visual style to narrative style.
Branded videos have become more prevalent in the last few years, together with the rise in popularity of video platforms such as Youtube. As social media algorithms favour videos more, it’s become a choice format for creating engaging digital marketing campaigns.
Although different from what we currently know as branded videos, brands have been creating video content as early as the 1920s. Shell pioneered the creation of films, followed later by other companies like Unilever and Ford. As televisions became more popular with households towards the 1950s, brands shifted to a shorter format – television commercials.
Brands continue to sponsor feature films with brand placements up until now. However, the rise of social media and video platforms like Youtube has heralded the arrival of a new golden age in advertising. Driven by changing consumer and viewer expectations in this digital age, brands have started commissioning a variety of video content ranging from short documentaries to comedy skits.
The Hire is a series of 8 short films starring Clive Owen and directed by a slate of acclaimed directors. The series was produced by BMW and released in 2001 to 2002.
Part-comedy, part-travel advertising, Faroe Islands Tourism produces a series of entertaining videos with Faroe Islands as the backdrop.
Domestic brands also utilise branded content, not just brands that are part of multinational companies. This Youtube miniseries by Japanese furniture store Hokuoh Kurashi no Douguten has garnered more than 1 million views per video.
Online channels like Nowness focus solely on creative video and are regularly sought after by brands aspiring to align their image with a particular style.
Branded videos are a great way to engage an audience. It allows us to communicate our brand’s aspirations in a way that words won’t be able to capture. By harnessing the power of content and creativity vision, we let our audience experience – see, hear, feel – our brand.
This is especially useful for B2B brands looking to strengthen their connection with the world at large. Saying you support education is different from showing that you have a scholarship program. p>
Westbank Corp, a Canadian real estate developer, commissions a short documentary featuring Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The visual style aligns the brand with keywords such as artistry, craftsmanship and beauty.
For makers/manufacturers, branded videos are an opportunity to showcase their products in a different light. Products can be brought to life as set pieces in a controlled environment that mirrors an aspirational situation in the real world. When humans (or animal friends) interact with the products, we can demonstrate values that won’t necessarily be obvious in a catalogue.
Tiffany (Japan) produced a narrative short film in collaboration with Japanese bridal magazine Zexy. The jewellery is not the literal visual focus of the video but it shines through the story that’s told.
Branded video content is most effective when we let creativity take the lead. This makes it important to work with a team who understands your vision and your brand. As brand guardians, how do we maintain the balance between creativity and our brand guidelines? Here are some key factors to consider.
1. Brand truth
Branded videos don’t necessarily follow a brand guideline, unless your brand has specific video requirements. Instead of colour requirements and line-spacing, it’s important to fully understand or establish your brand’s truth. This will ensure that all your decisions, and the production’s creative decisions, will work towards creating content that represents your brand.
Invest time in speaking with your creative team, whether they are in-house or an agency. This ensures that you are all on the same page, particularly when it comes to how your brand is brought to life on the small (or big) screen. Your creative team will take this knowledge with them and translate it into moving images.
2. Visual elements
When it comes to video, visual elements extend beyond logos and colour palettes. Your visual identity is incorporated into a number of other things: lighting and camera angles, amongst other things. Art direction on set also ensures costumes, backdrops, and props all support the creative vision while remaining in sync with the brand’s truth.
Don't leave sound behind. While it's largely delegated to the sound engineer to make sure the audio isn't too loud or too quiet, take some time to discuss which background music to use. Similarly, anywhere there's a voice over narration involved, their voice and style of speaking should sound like the voice of the brand.
Do you hold one shot for a long time or want to see a series of quick cuts? The rhythm and pace of your video also sends a message. Apart from supporting the creative vision, it should also resonate the brand's truth and suit your audience. For example, identify keywords from your brand and interrogate how that translates to your video’s pace? If your brand is young and fresh, think of dynamic editing. If your brand is all about mindfulness, perhaps you should take it slow.
5. Length of video
Think about your audience first and this will guide you in determining how long your video should be. And based on this, you’ll know which platforms to upload your content to. If the audience you want to speak to are not on Instagram or Tik-Tok, you don’t have to produce a video for these channels.