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How to Make Video Storytelling the Superglue of Brand Engagement

by | May 29, 2020

By Kipp Monroe, Executive Creative Director, WHITE64

Let’s start with a little exercise.

Take thirty seconds to jot down the three brands to which you’re most loyal — the brands you believe in and feel an affinity toward. No wrong answers here. My list includes an outdoor equipment company, a clothing brand and a grocery chain.

Now, go to their respective websites, YouTube channels or Facebook pages and conduct a little viewing audit of their branded video content. You’ll likely encounter some well-crafted videos. But rather than evaluate them intellectually, or even professionally, evaluate them…“emotionally.”

How do the videos from your most beloved brands make you feel? Let me guess: You find them almost irresistible. Maybe you binged out a bit and couldn’t stop watching them. And chances are they solidify, or even amplify your already strong emotional connection. That’s no accident. They know you too well. You’re a member of their tribe.

Sophisticated marketers have long recognized that video content is a uniquely powerful tool for applying the emotional glue that connects people to brands. But in the past few years, the art form of video storytelling has evolved significantly. That’s partly due to technological advances that have vaulted production values while lowering costs. More likely, it’s because the time Americans spend viewing video content, of all kinds, has expanded exponentially.

So what’s it all mean? Well, in our Netflix-addicted, five-device, post-Corona, virtual world, optimizing and promoting branded video content represents a historic opportunity for marketing managers across all verticals to bond with their believers. Video is, indeed, today’s vernacular.

Of course, perspectives on developing and executing video content vary widely. It’s hardly an exact science. But at WHITE64 we approach the process both strategically and creatively.  We’ve identified a few best practices that help us create brand believers. Hopefully, they can help you!

Storytelling requires stories

As humans, we are wired to be fascinated with other humans — what they do, why they do it, and what happens on the journey. That’s why movies and episodic TV series are so much a part of our Zeitgeist. Nothing is “stickier” than a compelling story. So when your strategic planners write your video content brief, urge them to include a mandatory requiring there be some kind of storyline that helps convey the strategy. It could be an “origin story.” It could be an “experience” story. As long as it’s authentic and reinforces your brand positioning it really doesn’t matter. The good news is that once you begin the search for stories to convey your brand essence, you’re likely to find you’ve tapped a very deep well.

Heroes come from unlikely places

Of course, every good story needs a protagonist. So it’s important to identify and foster those charismatic individuals associated with your brand who can play the leading roles when called upon. It could be your CEO or other passionate, visionary leaders. Very possibly, someone further down the org chart personifies an attribute your brand believers especially value. Or, it could even be a customer or client. Just keep in mind that not everyone is camera-ready. Some people blossom in front of a camera. Some bomb.

 Stress Lore Over Logic

Ethos is your culture, your mission, your organizational soul, your “reason why.” It’s the emotional DNA — the “one thing” — that separates you from everyone else. Video content celebrating your “tribal traditions,” (the lore of your brand) has proven to ladder up to trust. But predictably, within every organization, there lurks a senior-level someone representing the “voice of reason.” Typically, this individual insists that rational, benefit-ridden, power-point influenced content works best. It’s hard to argue with these folks logically because they are so…well… logical. But please try. Engineering remains a left-brained discipline, but marketing is decidedly evolved toward a right-brained endeavor.

Think Cinematically

Translated: your video needs to be visually arresting. Regardless of the size of your organization, or your project budget, it’s imperative today that you think of brand videos as mini-movies. New HD cameras, lightweight lighting gear, digital editing tools and yes even drones…they’ve all made impeccable production values table stakes. You no longer get a production pass for being a small brand. Having said that, yes, there is a trend toward raw, user-generated smartphone content. But even this technique requires finessed editing to keep it from looking amateurish. If you take nothing else from this article remember this: Your production values will speak volumes about your brand, arguably they communicate more than words.

Music Amps Emotion

While we’re on the subject of production values, please don’t minimize the role music plays in building your brand identity. If you make music a “strategic” decision rather than a “subjective” preference, you’ll be on the right track. Like stock photography, stock music often lacks character. If possible, consider having your project professionally scored to optimize the emotional impact.

All Things To All People, Not

The more willing you are to precisely “define” your target, the more powerfully you’ll be able to connect as effectively as those videos from your favorite brands connected with you. Yes, it’s hard to accept that there are people in the world your brand is simply not a good fit for. But through sacrifice, you’re able to specify.

 Vet Your Production Partners Carefully

Finally, there is no more important decision you’ll make in your process than the production resource you choose to partner with. These days everyone knows someone who produces video content. And certainly, the desire to go with a “low bid option” is tempting. But if you reflect on what your brand is worth, it’s easier to see quality production as more of an investment than a cost. A good rule of thumb is to carefully study the prior work on a production company’s website. If you like what they’ve delivered for others, chances are good you’ll be pleased with your result.

Like everything in our world, filmmaking trends and production technologies are evolving fast. Likewise, what social media platforms will be in vogue even a year from now is impossible to predict. But what you can count on is that human nature changes more gradually. And for the foreseeable future, our hard-wired desire to connect with brands who share our lifestyle perspectives, political beliefs, moral code and world view isn’t likely to change. Expanding the role video storytelling plays in helping you bond with your target is one of the smartest moves any marketing team can make.


About the Author

This post is authored by a Capitol Communicator native advertising sponsor.


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