12 killer questions to ask before creating your video

Creating a successful branded corporate video that people enjoy and want to share isn’t easy. However, with some grounding in basic production techniques, a little care and attention, your video will be clocking up the views and likes in no time.   

1. What’s the goal of the video?

Like all marketing activities, having a goal in mind will help focus your time and energy in the right places. The goal of your video will shape your audience, tone, style and a host of other factors. The right goal will also help you measure the success of your video so you can be sure you’re hitting the right areas of your marketing plan & budget. For example, you may be launching a new product so the goal of the video will be to generate awareness and sales leads for the new product. You can measure this by the amount of online views you receive, web traffic from the video to your site and sales enquiries you receive in a given period.

2. Who’s going to be watching?

Knowing what your audience likes, wants and importantly what turns them off can turn your video from a “want to skip” distraction to a “want to share” memorable, entertaining piece of branding, like this interesting greeting video from from Publicis Groupe CEO to his employees.

Who knows your customers better than you...Research, gather, collate all you know about your audience’s viewing habits and behaviour from your customer data. If your business is new to video, what videos are your competitors creating in this space and what are audience’s saying about it?

3. What kind of video is this?    

The type of video you create is going to flow from your goal and the context of your business. A slick, product promo video is going to look and feel different from a “how-to” video delivered by one of your staff. Apple’s IPhone7 video about the power of Siri is very clear about what it is and how they want you to feel without directly telling you.   

Knowing the types of content, the approach to take and audience expectations about well trodden video ground will pay dividends when planning and designing the look of your video.  

4. What’s the core message?

The great thing about making an online video (the same applies to radio/TV) over other mediums is that it forces you to make tough choices about your messaging as you only have a very limited window to get people's attention.   

If producing something other than a “how-to” video where the message will be in the title, like “How to Iron a Dress Shirt” then you need to think hard about your core messaging. The art of being concise really comes into play here - say as much as possible in the fewest words possible. Also try testing it out on others around you (especially people outside your team), if they’re struggling to get it first time then you need to finesse some more. Your audience will thank you for it and it will make the planning and direction of your video a whole bunch easier.  

You are the expert, you have the knowledge and you know what your audience needs so give it to them (but in small doses). The temptation with video is to pack some dense material in there in the belief that people will miss it if you don’t give it all to them. Plus you only have about 10secs to grab someones attention at the beginning so the simpler the message the easier it is for your audience to get it. 

5. What’s your tone of voice?

Getting the tone right is tricky. You want to be authentic and true to your brand but also take a few risks with the creative treatment. The key here is be yourself but better. The “tone” is how people feel and think about the video and this comes from the creative - does the person narrating sound like they belong? Is the music reflective of the brand values? Are the locations and visuals relevant to the customer's world? Here is a great example from the charity Water is Life where I think the tone is just right for the subject matter.  

6. What kind of videos do you like?

Here’s a challenge - watch some videos you like about similar subject matter and note the tone, style and visuals of each piece - was it fun and playful or authoritative? Does the video have an on-screen narrator or off screen? Do they use animation, does it augment or detract from the story? What did you feel and why?  There any many creative elements that make a video successful and you should use tropes, styles and techniques that work for the context of your story. 

7. Where will it be filmed?

When shooting live talking heads (including you!) or actors then choosing the right location can lift the production values and give the video a more filmic look. Think about where you could shoot that is interesting, quiet and relevant to your story. A brick wall is better than a bland grey wall, a walk through a lush garden will bring energy and life to any piece.  

When shooting a project called Charlotte's Compass in Ibiza, London, Dublin and France, the multiple locations meant that extra production time was needed so we had to factor in extra time and cost for travel. But as a result, it was a much more interesting piece than if we'd done it all in a studio.

8. What will it sound like?

Audio is half of any video. People can forgive an unflattering shot or some overexposure but mess up the audio and your video is toast. Not only do you need clean sounding, well recorded voiceover and sound effects but the right music track can subtly augment your story or the wrong one force your audience to switch channels. All this needs to be then mixed and optimized so the audience never thinks twice about what they’re listening to.  This video from the British Army cleverly uses sound to convey an idea from their “This is belonging” series

9. What animated elements do you need?

Animation and motion graphics have come a long way in the last 10 years and the UK is now a world centre for animation and SFX. What was the preserve of Disney and other big studios is now within reach of most businesses. Animation allows you to go places or show things that would otherwise be impossible - illustrate how African deserts miss the rain - no problem. Visualize what the inside of a cow’s stomach looks like - you got it.  

Videos can be full animations, composites or live action videos with a few motion graphics. At the bare minimum you should always have well presented on screen text and your logo at the end of the video. Here’s a link to our lead animator Alex Bam’s showreel

10. How long will it be?

In the world of online video shorter is always better, a good starting point is about 2mins long. This is what most audience’s expect and they’ll more likely watch it.  

However, if your audience are tuning into your weekly “How to…” Youtube channel then you may have a 10min show or longer, you’ve worked hard to build an audience and they want their weekly fix. The Slow Mo Guys publish their videos on average once a month and each video is about 10mins long.

Business context, content type, audience and the goal of your video will all affect how long a piece needs to be - rule of thumb - it should be as long as it needs to be and no longer.    

11. What’s your deadline?

Well produced great looking video takes time, the best ideas can take even longer. Give yourself enough time to come up with an original concept, write the script and plan the shoot, The process of pre-production (all the creative stuff that happens before you shoot) should never be rushed.

To give you a rough idea - a well organized single 2 min online video shoot should take a day or two to shoot, editing can take 3-4 days so with pre-production time you should plan for 2 weeks from idea to finished video.  

13. How will you distribute the video?

There are many video platforms out there besides Youtube and each one has it’s pros and cons. For example Facebook is great for social interaction with your video and targeting your audience but has a short lifespan as it drops off people’s feeds. Vimeo is better for more creative work, higher visual fidelity and is the place to host for more “filmic” projects.

A good tip is to go where your audience are - which video platforms do they use and what are you already using in your marketing mix.  

I hope that has got you thinking and asking the right questions. If you need any help when creating a video we'd love to hear from you


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