Branding is the use of language and design to solve communication problems. It just makes sense to use all the tools at the right time. Video is a great tool, and technological advances have made now a great time to use video to tell your story.
I remember about three things from college. One: in a class called College Math, the professor showed us that the lottery was a tax on the stupid. That stuck. Two: I learned that when you say you are conversant in a language, you should show up to Advanced Spanish ready to converse. And I wasn’t. And three: I remember an idea from Communications 101 called Media Richness Theory. This theory offers us some insight into why video is so important for brands.
There Is Static
When you communicate something, the idea doesn’t just teleport from one person’s brain to the other’s. The idea goes out into the world and gets twisted around a bit before it sticks in the other person’s brain.
How you convey the idea matters. It is one thing to say you love your partner. It is another to post a paragraph to Facebook saying how much you love them. It is another, again, to post on Instagram conveying that love. Same idea, but the meaning changes significantly based on the content.
Communicating in person is usually the most effective. The quick feedback loop and information-dense environment (words, tones, facial expression, body language) allow for clarity. Often, companies can’t communicate their brand in person. We rely on words. We can be poetic. We can be more verbose and more specific. We can use images. They offer the ability to communicate a lot in a compact form. And we can use video. Because video is the most information-rich, we often use it in our branding projects.
Using video is a smart choice, but how you use it determines its effectiveness. There are several content strategies to consider that communicate very different things about your brand to your audience.
You know the typical political ad. You also know what a tech support video looks like. They both manipulate lighting and focal length to make the person seem more authoritative, more authentic, or more approachable depending on the desired effect. The person reads from a carefully written script. The listener gets the benefit of seeing the body language, facial expressions, clothing choice, and setting. If it is important to tightly control the message’s meaning, these types of video can be effective.
This type of video doesn’t have to be slick. This is the eBay effect. In their auctions, they found that if the images were too good they didn’t sell for as much as similar products with lower quality images. It is an issue of trust. Sometimes, a more homemade approach feels more authentic.
Much of the most successful advertising falls into the aspiration category. Picture the miniature Darth Vader starting the Volkswagen. Or the moms helping their children prepare for the Olympics. Or the truly liberated man enjoying his Southern Comfort. We can combine the language, sound of the human voice, music, and imagery to create a powerful emotional experience. We can craft a story that you can see yourself in.
Here, production quality is essential. We are trying to create a narrative dream in which the viewer is totally immersed. Anything that feels out of place causes the viewer to detach and become critical of what they are seeing.
When we work on campaigns, we don’t always want the viewer to see themselves in the piece. Sometimes we want to take a really complicated issue and make it understandable. The issues could be the problems facing teachers. It could be explaining how solar energy works to legislators. It could be explaining how important it is for employers to help their people get GEDs. Animating simple shapes in tandem with a carefully chosen voiceover can be a great way to explain something that would take you paragraphs of text.
Again, simplicity is key. We are trying to make something highly nuanced seem like common sense. Symbolically distilling visuals and language to their most basic is a good start. We are reducing the world to triangles, rectangles, and circles.
We all have communication problems. We can help you use the right tool at the right time and in the right way.