Video branding is powerful.
And, to be honest, there’s a very simple reason why: You’re a visual animal.
You process visuals 60,000x faster than text. You can process complex visual scenes effortlessly, and retain that information with ease (you’re kind of a big deal).
In this post, we’re going to show you how you can use video as a powerful branding tool, and why you should tap into this amazing trend.
Why video now?
Aside from the fact that video is an extremely effective way to communicate, the barriers limiting video use have been falling at a rapid pace.
Until recently, video on the web was extremely cumbersome. It used too much data and demanded too much memory. The cost of producing great video is plummeting – as the tools become cheaper and the knowledge more available.
There’s never been a better time to tap into the power of video to showcase your brand – whether that means increasing awareness or shaping perception.
What are we going to cover?
Here’s a quick overview of this post:
- Why is video a powerful branding mechanism.
- Branding with video is nothing without a strong brand underneath.
- Video breakdowns – how video can extend a brand.
- How big brands are using video to extend their brand.
1. Why is video a powerful branding mechanism?
What is a branding mechanism? It’s anything that you can use to increase the awareness or perception of your brand.
This could mean packaging, it could be your website, it could be a t-shirt, or it could be a blog post. Anything that exposes people to your brand is a branding mechanism.
Video is a fantastic branding mechanism for several reasons.
- Video allows you to show what you brand is like, without having to say it.
- Visual information is processed 60,000 times faster than text, and taps into much olderand more powerful parts of the brain (language is very recent evolutionary tool).
- Every element in a video can be an extension of your brand.
All three of these are significant, but let’s zoom in on #3: the fact that every element in a video can be an extension of your brand.
How can each of these elements make a statement in a way that’s organic and deeply impactful?
Let’s break it down:
- Visual style: What is the visual identity of the animation? Bright and colorful line art? Gritty magazine cutouts? Clean & sci-fi? Vintage or retro?
- Setting: What setting does the story take place in? An office space or a fantasy wonderland? Is the world serious or silly?
- Character & setting: What characters do your videos use? Do you have your brand mascot as a hero, or do you have the customer as the hero and your mascot as the mentor that shows them the way? What are the characters like?
- Story elements: What type of story elements do you emphasize? Defeating an evil villain? Saving a damsel in distress?
- Type of Motion: Do people move with energy and elasticity? Or are they stiff and rigid? Is movement predictable or chaotic? Face-paced or slow?
- Script: What is the focus of the content? What types of things are said? What language is used?
- Vocal performance: What’s the tonality of how things are said? What’s the personality of the voice speaking?
- Sound Design: Sound makes or breaks a video. Is it realistic? Playful? Surreal? Silly?
- Music: Generic music makes even the best video feel cheap. Is your music unique?What’s the style? EDM? Orchestral? Rock & roll? Or just cheesy acoustic guitar chords? Music says so much about what a brand is like and what it’s about.
Video is uniquely effective at telling brand stories. In our experience, most common stories to tell are:
1. Brand origin story:
Every great brand has a unique story. It separates your brand from other brands, gives you a unique “why”, and shows your customers how you have a unique perspective about the problem you’re solving.
Brand origin stories build up the emotional values that underscore your drive to solve the problem you solve. They show how you gained unique insight and points of view that equip you to solve the problem you solve in a way that nobody else can.
Video is great to tell brand origin stories because, unlike verbally sharing the story, you can capture the setting, character, and emotion in a way that resonates much more deeply.
2. Elevator pitch / explainer video:
These are the most popular stories that brands like to tell with videos.
In person, elevator pitches are hit or miss: When you share what your company does, the problem it solves, who it serves, and how it’s differentiated from competitors, sometimes you can see people’s eyes light up and they just get it. Other times, you just aren’t quite so elegant in your words, or maybe your energy isn’t quite as high, or maybe you skipped a sentence that would have tied it all together for them.
But when your elevator pitch is captured as an explainer video, it can deliver the perfect pitch everytime. Andnotjustverbally–itcanshowpeoplewhatyoudoinawaythatmakes everything easier to understand and easier to remember. It can also use pacing and color and music and sound to make your message entertaining to consume – even if your product is as boring as they come.
Explainer videos tend to focus on two things: brands or products. Brand-focused explainer videos tell the story of your company, while product-focused explainer videos tell the story of a specific product or service (potentially a new one you’re launching).
3. Customer journeys:
Videos sharing the story of a customer journey are gaining traction, but many brands still neglect to tell these powerful stories.
These videos take a hypothetical person in your target market who has the problem you solve and is suffering the consequences. They hit a tipping point and need a solution, and your company is able to save the day! These focus on customer benefits, pain-points, and the concrete details of getting set up – all from the customer’s perspective.
These videos are extremely effective because they tell the story from the perspective of the viewer, and can resonate in an impactful way.
If you’re interested in learning more about brand storytelling, here’s an authoritative guide where you can learn how.
2. Branding with video is nothing without a strong brand underneath.
Quite simply: Video can tell stories for your brand, but you need great stories to tell. If you are a startup incubator, then all the more you can benefit from video marketing strategy. For a full guide on incubators, check this out.
Customers don’t trust ads like they used to. You need to communicate with them in a way that’s authentic and transparent. You can’t tell them what to think, but you can share stories that help them come to their own conclusions.
A weak brand is going to tell weak stories, but a strong brand can tell stories your customer will never forget.
What makes a great brand?
- Great brands stand for something that resonates with their customers
- Great brands create emotional connections with their customers
- Great brands inspire their customers to take action.
How do you create a strong brand?Building a strong brand is a sweeping topic that covers enormous breadth and depth. It’s not something we can cover fully here, but let’s touch on some essentials:
- Market research
- Competitive analysis
- Analyze customer segments
- Brand differentiation
- Create a brand story
- Name / logo / identity elements
- Website design
If you want more depth on what you need to do to build a powerful brand, I recommend check out this deep guide on creating a winning brand.
For video branding to work at its best, you need several things:
- A strong strategic understanding of your brand
- Brand identity system (branded visual assets like a logo / color schemes / characters /etc.) that set the tone & direction of your video content.
You can’t guess your way to a great brand – there’s a reason top experts can charge big fees and still be overrun with clients.
If you haven’t already, we recommend biting the bullet and working with brand experts that can help you get clarity and direction for your brand
Branding experts can help you articulate who you truly are in a way that intuitively resonates with your target customers, while differentiating you from competitors and setting you up for future growth.
3. How can video extend your brand?
Here we have a simple logo animation we made for Spellbrand.
The goal of this is to communicate who Spellbrand is, and what Spellbrand does.
What’s important is that we communicate these things in a way that SHOWS the viewer without TELLING the viewer. We want the viewer to feel what Spellbrand is about.
The animation itself uses a simple visual metaphor instead of complex story to get a few ideas across simply.
We can notice a few things that tell us right away that this isn’t a generic animation – this could only have been made specifically for Spellbrand.
- Color scheme built around Spellbrand’s branding.
- Character metaphors: Abstract character = Sleeping Brand. Magic Wand = Spellbrand.
- Simple narrative that extends naturally from Spellbrand: a sleeping brand to be awoken,a magic wand casting a spell, a lively brand transformation, etc.
The flow of the narrative is simple:
(1) Setup: Abstract character representing a “sleeping brand”
(2) Inciting Incident: Spellbrand – represented as a magic wand – awakens the brand.
(3) Initial Reaction: The sleeping brand is a bit startled and confused – setting up a momentof contrast for the happy ending.
(4) Climax: Spellbrand (magic wand) transforms the uninspired gray brand into a colorfuland confident brand by using a “magic spell”.
(5) Final Reaction: The transformed brand connects with the viewer by looking directly intothe camera.
(6) Conclusion: Character transforms into the Spellbrand logo.
Every component of the animation tells us something about the brand: the characters appearance, the character movement, how the wand waves, the use of shape & color, and even to the speed of motion.
With simple animation, you can communicate who you are, signal authority and uniqueness, and create a lasting impression – all with only a few seconds of somebody’s attention.
Here we have an animation for the Brand Strategy that Spellbrand offers.
The biggest difference between this video and the logo animation is (a) the length, and (b) the focus on exposition.
Because we have more time and space to communicate, we can still wrap our core message in a story while also emphasising pure exposition (raw information).
The flow of the narrative is a bit more complex than the logo animation:
- (1) Setup: A group of forgettable circles forming a crowd – representing undifferentiated“brands”. Your eye isn’t drawn to any in particular.
- (2) Inciting Incident: Spellbrand wand enters scene and targets one of the undifferentiatedbrands with “brand strategy” (represented as a spell).
- (3) Initial Reaction: Gray brand becomes grows and becomes colorful, pushing the otherforgettable brands away.
- (4) Scene Transition: The new brand takes over the screen and we enter an energetic andcolorful abstract space.
- (5) Service Exposition: In this abstract space, we’re able to show the 5 stages ofSpellbrands brand strategy service. The emphasis is not on the details, but rather the headlines. People aren’t watching a video to read – it’s more important that people see that there is information to consume as a heuristic, rather than have them read detailed information. Our goal is to pique interest and drive an action – in this case, drive the viewer to the brand strategy service page where they can learn more about the service.
- (6) Scene Transition: Return to the initial space, but now the brand is equiped with the Spellbrand wand.
- (7) A New World: The old brands are unable to penetrate the brand’s protective wall, representing protected, blue-ocean positioning. The brand can then easily attract a flow of cash that rushes to the brand.
- (8) Conclusion: Wand takes over the screen and we see a simple transition to the Spellbrand logo.
The magic of animations done for products and services is, as mentioned above, the ability to use story and metaphor while also expressing a meaningful amount of exposition about the products and services.
These types of videos can be great in marketing materials and sales pages because they show the authority and credibility of your brand while also doing some of the heavy lifting typically required by your copywriting – all in a way that’s fast-paced, entertaining, and visual.
Here’s an explainer video we did for 接管 (Takeover AI).
Explainer videos are a fantastic way to use animation in a way that extends your brand.
These are bit more complex and typically require a bit more budget to execute at a high level, but, when done correctly, the results speak for themselves.
We’re focusing on how this video is a useful branding tool. While the video itself is in Mandarin, what’s being said matters less than how the visuals and movement communicate the personality of the brand and tell a story you can follow (for the most part) visually.
The flow of this narrative is quite complex compared to the two animations above:
- Opening Shot: Establish two things: (a) the brand character and hero of the video – asci-fi computer chip, and (b) the world of the video – an abstract sci-fi space with vibrant colors and electronic undertones. It’s important that both are unique extensions of this particular brand.
- First Impression: We can see three concrete visuals appear, these transcend language and create additional hi-tech associations. These also extend the stylescape (overal visual aesthetic) of the video in a meaningful way. At this point, we have a unique visual identity that is an extension of the brand.
- Challenge Scene: Here’s the “money shot” of the animation, we put a lot of time making this cinematic and unique. The shot itself uses a video-game metaphor to communicate the current weakness of the hero – creating a sense of tension and need for change. The villain represents the challenge the hero (prospective client) faces. This moment also sells the viewer on the quality of animation and, by extension, authority of the company the animation represents.
- Take Action Scene: Here the hero makes purchases from 接管 (Takeover AI) that set them up for victory. It’s simple, transaction, and easy to follow.
- Visualize Improvements Scene: Instead of just implying that the hero improves, it’s always better to show it! This scene visually communicates the transformation in a way that is much more meaningful.
- Success Scene: The transformed hero has no issues anymore. We can see how they have no issue and unthreated by the challenge that initially faced them. They can defeat their metaphorical antagonist with ease.
- Conclusion: Simple shot showing the logo and website of the business, for the viewer to remember and/or follow-up with.
4. How are big brands using video to extend their brand?
As we mentioned, big brands are using video more than ever.
Let’s look at three examples of how elite businesses are using video in 2020:
Here we can see how Amazon is using an explainer video to educate consumers about a new product (Amazon Ignite). It’s relatively simple 2D animation and doesn’t try to shake up the world or win any creative awards – but it’s hyper-effective at communicating the message.
Apple has been using video in their marketing for decades, and they’ve been masters at it for a long time. Here we can see how an extremely simple, but polished, 3D animation is used to promote the iMac pro.
Google uses animation to show playfulness – through logo animations and ux animation. Gmail’s loader animation is now famous. Google is very effective at using video and animation across their brand.
As with most things in marketing, the use of video is always changing and sometimes it can be hard to keep up.
The way brands are using video today is considerably different than even a few years ago – back when explainer videos were a rare luxury for a select few companies.
- Global market for video is rapidly expanding – lower barriers to consumption worldwidethat brands can tap into.
- Video ROI is improving for marketers across the board, justifying marketing spend forbrands.
- Businesses are using multiple distribution channels to get exposure for their brand (i.e.SnapChat, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok).
- Video is becoming a consumer expectation for brands, opposed to an unexpectedluxury.
- Videos are becoming tailored to funnel objectives, meaning they can help prospects withthe discovery, consideration, or decision phases of buying a product.
- There is a rapid expansion of live video – i.e. webinars and sales videos. Brands can usethis to connect intimately (or potentially 1-on-1) with their customers.
- More people are seeking expertise from video (solving problems, learning new skills,etc.). Brands can position their expertise to attract an audience hungry for their knowledge.
Iliad Creative is an animation agency based in Nashville, TN. Iliad Creative helps businesses use animation for digital marketing – producing animation for content, promotion, and branding. You can connect with them on their website or youtube channel.
We’re also finding that more and more top brands are choosing to build out their animation and motion graphics teams in house to keep up with their production needs, as well as allocating more of their marketing budgets toward video content. Here are 22 of the best branded videos.
We’re seeing top brands tap into these trends, and we expect to see more and more follow suit. Next year there will be a new set of shifts and changes, but it’s better to get ahead as quickly as possible.
Branding is complex.
It’s challenging, nuanced, and all too easy to get wrong. Quite frankly, it’s a mission-critical area where most businesses fail in spectacular fashion.
But the branding behind your business shapes your reality, and you can’t afford to mess it up. Video (in our case animation) is a powerful tool for branding, but there’s so much more to a brand than that.
It’s how you exist in the mind. It’s the complex web of ideas and associations that make up who you are.
It can’t be faked or forced, but, with an expert’s touch, your brand can be your superpower. The secret sauce that makes you one-of-a-kind and unforgettable.