Vimeo was helping companies create what industry folks call “branded video” long before it became the hottest new marketing buzzword. Branded video is not to be confused with video advertising, though. Branded videos are things people actually want to watch, while advertisements interrupt the viewing experience.
No blog post about branded content would be complete without a shoutout to our Brand Creative Fund, where we help major brands connect with Vimeo creators to make amazing videos together. We love helping brands reach millions of people and support work that people actually want to watch — and we’re obsessed with helping filmmakers get paid. Want to see what a crazy good branded video looks like? Here’s a little something we cooked up with Charles Schwab:
While we designed our Brand Creative Fund with larger brands in mind, the Vimeo team is always eager to help smaller, budding companies get started with video. Any business, large or small, can create successful brand videos. What matters, more than the production value, is the story you’re telling. Be your budget big or small, here are some tips for creating interesting works of video art that just so happen to be telling your brand story, too.
1) Be authentic
Your video should center around something your brand is passionate about and easily fits into context for your customers. You know, just be yourself! After all, it wouldn’t make sense for a company like Red Bull to create a documentary on knitting (unless there’s a secret underground caffeine-bingeing + knitting fight club we don’t know about). But it definitely makes sense for Red Bull to make this sweet skateboarding doc:
2) Do it for the feels, not the sales
Video advertisements are a means of selling stuff. Branded videos, on the other hand, provide a creative way to get people to fall in love with your company and brand and keep them coming back to you time and time again. If your video marketing strategy is focused solely on quick wins, you should probably invest in a commercial instead of a brand video. However, if your goal is to make a lasting impression on your customers and woo them into brand advocates, you may want to invest in a “brand video” instead.
With a brand video, the goal is to connect with your customers and audience around a common interest, something that aligns with your brand’s mission or values. An effective way to delight your customers is to remind them that your brand has a soul (in addition to business goals).
Chobani yogurt uses humor and the power of “omg so cute” in “Fruits and Their Mating Games”:
Bells, a liquor brand, tells a heartwarming and inspiring story to pull on the heartstrings. Seriously, we dare you not to cry:
Vestel, an electronic appliance manufacturer, uses robots and an epic pirate adventure to get your pulse racing:
3) Give a little, get a lot
Not every business has the budget to commission feature-length branded videos. If you’re operating on a shoestring, you can get great brand exposure with a simple product placement with the right partner. Most small businesses can afford to offer a few free products to filmmakers in exchange for some key product placement in their next cool video.
Langly gave filmmaking team Caleb & Shawn their Alpha Camera Backpack for free and asked them to make something great.
4) When in doubt, DIY
Small biz budgets don’t often allow for big production deals. Luckily, video technology these days is good enough to allow anyone to DIY if they put in some time and effort. Even if you’re only working with an iPhone camera, you can achieve high-quality results by following these best practices.
Erno Lazlo, a small luxury skincare brand, was able to produce this brand video with only an iPhone 6 and a little ingenuity:
Further proof that iPhone videos can look as good as videos shot on beastly rigs: this documentary for Bentley was shot entirely on an iPhone 5s and edited on an iPad!
Another way to save money is to do your own animation, rather than live-action video. GoAnimate, an inexpensive drag-and-drop animation tool, allows you to tell your brand story without hiring a single cameraman, sound guy, or actor. Robert Duvoisin’s amusing Forrest Gump hospital parody was created with GoAnimate:
5) Take the brand out of branded content
The more logos we see, the more a video seems like a commercial. While it can be extremely challenging to communicate your brand without ever mentioning it out loud, your story can be powerful enough to share what your company is all about without including a call-to-action.
Try treating your brand the same way a production studio would: give it a single mention upfront, then let your characters and story take center stage. Free People has mastered this subtle approach:
Or, if you want to place your brand more prominently throughout your video, find the right moments to highlight your products without overpowering the scene like in this film for the jewelry brand Tous:
6) Find the perfect partner in creativity
Producing a branded video can be an expensive endeavor. Finding the right partner can not only help you cut down on your costs, it can also help you tap into a whole new captive audience you never would have had access to otherwise.
W Hotels and Intel partnered to create a clever dark comedy, and were able to cross-promote the final product to their respective audiences:
There are tons more examples we could share, but hopefully by now you’re inspired to start brainstorming winsome ways to captivate your customers through video. Next week, we’ll talk product video technique, but if seven days feels like an impossibly endless stretch of time, whet your appetite with this post on ways to create a killer product video.
Read Next: 9 rules for creating killer product videos
Image credit: Shutterstock
This post first appeared on Vimeo.