June 13, 2016 at 8:43AM
5 Important Things We've Learned (so far) About Creating Brand Films
Over the past few years we’ve slowly grown our company into a commercial video production studio, focusing heavily on brand films. To us, brand films are any project that is meant to encapsulate a brand and promote the overall business, company, product or service. Often times these come in a few different forms. The two we are most familiar with are:
Short, commercial-like, stylized/creative films; usually 30-90 seconds in length.
Longer, more in-depth brand films that show people the who/what/why of a business; often times referred to as Company Promo Videos.
Both types of projects have similar goals: to promote their brand.
We’ve been at it for over 3 years now developing brand films for a wide array of clients, and throughout our experience, we’ve learned a few things. Here are the 5 Important Things We’ve Learned (so far) About Creating Brand Films:
#5: GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE BRAND FIRST
This might seem like a no-brainer, but for us, it wasn’t. When we began producing these types of projects we were so excited to just dive in and create a video that we thought would fit the brand based on our research; rather than really getting to know the people behind the brand first (the creators, the audience, etc). Who are these people? What are their goals? What is their lifestyle like? What is it about the brand that resonates with them? Getting to know the people behind the brand first will better help you to navigate the choices you make during the creation of the project. It also allows you to form a relationship with your clients, making the entire process more fulfilling for them and you.
#4: SPEND MORE TIME ON PRE-PRODUCTION
For us, one of the main culprits of a poorly produced brand film is usually lack of pre-production. When we first started out we would essentially just schedule a shoot day and show up on-location to film - with no clear outline, shot-list or narrative in mind. Everything was on the fly. We were so excited about creating an awesome project that we assumed the project would “come together itself”. And early on, they did to a certain extent. But when we started working with bigger clients, bigger budgets and more thought-out creative concepts we quickly learned that spending ample time on pre-production is the difference between a good project and a great project.
So - take time; shot-list, storyboard, script, scout locations, and invest energy into the planning of the project before filming, and trust us - it will show.
#3: LEAVE ROOM FOR CREATIVE FREEDOM
Perhaps one of the most important things we’ve learned about creating brand films was to spend more time on pre-production (above). But with that comes a HUGE reminder: Leave Room for Creative Freedom.
Equally as important as pre-production, make sure you’re not stifling any spur-of-the-moment creativity on-set or in post-production. If you, your director, your DP, your Producer, editor, or anyone else has any great ideas - don’t be quick to dismiss them just because the shot-list and storyboard is already finalized. In fact, many times the random spur-of-the-moment shots end up being some of the best. Or if while editing the project begins to take a different shape or might work better if the narrative shifts a tiny bit - be open minded and adaptable. Putting together a great project is more important than making sure an okay project is executed from top to bottom.
#2: COLLABORATION IS KEY
In work, as in life, collaboration is key. And what we've learned over the years is that collaborating with our clients provide's a much more fulfilling experience for both them, and us. There are rare times when the client simply hands over full creative control into our laps - but usually the client is reaching out with some type of overall vision of what they want.
The flip-side to this is that you want to make sure you're contributing ideas to the vision, as well. If you're simply executing someone else's vision from top to bottom they're probably much less likely to appreciate your creation; because, after all, it's not really your creation.
As a creative it's our job to gather up all of these ideas our client's have, infuse them into our own process and create a brand film that encapsulates the client's vision & OUR vision OF their vision.
#1: FOCUS ON THE BIG PICTURE
So often we see brand films that simply show a business or product and the entire video is spent highlighting the different features the product has and why it’s so great. We used to be victim to this, as well. Until we decided to dig a little bit deeper. The BIG PICTURE is the overall objective. The WHY. Take a step back and ask yourself, “Why does the brand - their product or their service resonate with their audience?”. Once we discovered this it really helped us to drive the narrative towards better and more effective marketing.
For example, when we produced a brand film for Merritt Bookkeeping, a business bookkeeping company - rather than focusing and showing the features of their service (business reports, how interactive the website is, how helpful & friendly the staff is, etc) - we focused on the WHY. The WHY in this case was that Merritt Bookkeeping makes business owners lives so much easier. It allows them “to never have to worry about their bookkeeping ever again”. This dives into the root of their brand and results in a connection with their core audience.
To that same idea, when we produced a brand film for BPM Supreme, a music subscription service for DJ’s - rather than focusing entirely on the service itself, we focused on the WHY: Because being a professional DJ is insanely busy - traveling, meetings, shows, radio appearances, etc - so BPM Supreme is a MUST have for this lifestyle because it saves DJ’s all of the time it takes to spend researching new music, downloading, organizing, categorizing, etc. The Big Picture connects to the brand, but more importantly, connects to the brand’s audience.