It’s a well-known fact that just being an empathizing person is an excellent business strategy – It makes it easier for your customers to form a connection with your company. Most of the time, that bit of connection is all it takes for them to start (or continue!) to do business with you.
All things being equal, the better you are at generating that kind of empathy from your potential customers, the better your business will tend to perform. However, that’s something easier said than done! Especially for big companies and recognizable brands.
To generate connections, you need to make an effort to show the human side of your company, and there’s simply no better way to do so than with video.
Company stories – a.k.a. culture videos – excel at giving your audience a peek behind the curtain. To see the people and faces that make their products and services possible.
Today, we’ll take a page from some of the best video companies’ playbooks, and see how we can spark these meaningful connections with your audience.
Let’s get started.
Define Your Essentials
Culture videos give you a way to influence the conversation around your brand, acting as an ideal platform to convey your company’s values, mission, vision, and culture. It stands to reason then, that you can’t make one of these videos if you don’t have an idea of what those things are!
What drives your brand? What’s its purpose? Its priorities? What are its beliefs? Where did it come from and how did it grow? How do its employees act and think? What makes it different from competitors?
Answers to these questions aren’t just crucial to the way your company works – they can help you brand effectively and are also the hallmarks of why your audience would identify with it. If you haven’t already, take your time and figure them out.
Representing them in your video is the key to attracting the right attention to your brand.
Develop Your Story
A great video always has its roots in an excellent story. Let’s talk a bit about how to put together a truly remarkable one.
Define your audience
If you are a marketer, you’ll find this quite obvious.
For whom is the culture video intended? Even if the core values remain the same, you probably don’t want to express the same message to a potential customer than to a potential employee.
The reasons why yours is an amazing brand to buy from are essentially different from the reasons why it’s a great company to work with. So, define who your target audience is from the get-go and let that inform the development of the piece.
Less is more
Let’s be clear, chances are that you won’t be able to capture your entire company story in a single video. And you don’t have to!
Even if you tried and somehow succeeded, it would represent a lot of wasted effort and result in a less effective piece. Audiences have limited time and attention spans, not to mention willingness to engage with your content for only so long.
Trust me; it’s better to focus your video around a few solid ideas than long-winded tales that dilute its impact.
Best way to go about it, then? Concentrate on one or two core values for your business.
Portray your business from a single specific angle and stick with it. It can be an event held by your company, about a typical day in the office, about a new staff member’s experience…. The options are unlimited, but the main idea is that you should choose a point of view that aligns with your company’s values and the audience you are speaking to.
Make it short and sweet… but meaningful
You want your audience to watch the entirety of your message, and for culture videos, that means you have about two minutes. So, you’ll need to convey your main points clearly and directly, while still telling an interesting story.
Company stories aren’t only about informing, but also about entertaining. And that’s just to start.
You have to make the piece feel meaningful to your audience so they can relate to your message. Your video has to convey an emotion, the same emotion that drives your company to succeed. Use visual storytelling and imagery that reinforces the sentiment you are going for, and cap it all off with appropriate music.
You can use the type of cohesive narrative that most explainer videos use as guidelines, as it’s a powerful way of showing your audience why they should care about your company.
Structure your script
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so focus on giving your script a solid beginning, a natural development, and a powerful ending.
Each one of these parts must be engaging, but doubly so in the beginning. Focus on capturing your viewer’s attention and giving them a reason to keep watching. Eye-catching visuals or an intriguing opening message usually achieve this. Introduce your point at the beginning before it’s too late, and reinforce it throughout the video.
Once the premise of your story is set at the beginning, move on and expand upon it during the middle of the piece. Try different approaches and avoid monotony and repetition, lest you lose your audience’s interest.
Then, have your script organically lead to a conclusion that revolves around your company’s culture and values, and how these interact to the benefit of your customers.
Do keep in mind that interviews feature heavily in most company story videos, and you should account for them as you develop your piece’s script in detail. Make notes about places where those interview inserts would fit best to make things easier later on, as you put everything together.
And on that note…
Basics of Conducting an Interview
When you strip all other elements down, your company story videos are a collage of interviews with your staff and customers. The better you are at preparing and handling this interview, the more useful material you’ll have to work with later on.
Let’s go over some of the main aspects you need to keep in mind for them.
Choose the right personality
Not everybody has the knowledge or the charisma to appear on camera talking about your company. Take your time and select people with the right mix of these aspects. Someone your audience can relate to.
If you will interview your staff, try to pick up people who play different roles in the company. It’s great to hear what the CEO has to say, but it can also be interesting to know the perspective of someone who works directly with the clients as well.
Make the interviewees feel at ease
Most people feel uncomfortable about appearing on camera. And this discomfort tends to be pretty evident if you don’t try and address it.
It’s important to socialize with your interlocutors before the interview starts. Create a familiar and conversational environment and be prepared to do some relaxation exercises with them if needed.
Practice makes perfect
Conduct a few rehearsals takes before turning the camera on.
The interviewed party will feel more prepared. Improvising can sound more natural but it may harm the cohesion of the narrative. Usually, you’ll want to find a middle ground between these two points.
Ready to Start Shooting?
The making of a video covers three main stages: pre-production, production (the shooting) and post-production. Let’s talk a bit about tips and best practices that will make these stages go much more smoothly for you.
How good the day (or days) of shooting go is usually tied directly to the amount of detailed planning during the pre-production stage.
Storyboarding will help you visualize and organize your ideas for the visual side of your video. Create a storyboard of the sort of takes you want to shoot, and keep it handy. It will be a useful tool to know what to film next.
There are multiple factors you have to reflect upon when choosing a location to film.
Are you shooting in interiors or exteriors? If you choose the latter, consider things like weather, availability, ambient noise. For the former, consider space availability and how it can impact the regular activities on location while you shoot.
Whether inside or outside, you’ll want to plan around for transportation and storage of the equipment.
Carefully organize the shooting schedule well in advance, according to location, date and time, equipment needed and people involved in each scene.
Having this prepared will save you and your team valuable time and headaches.
Here we consider everything that has to do with the actual shooting of your video.
Use real people, not actors
As mentioned before, in this type of video you often showcase your staff members. They may appear talking about their experience in the company, or just doing their jobs.
If you are trying to show how your team works, shockingly, there’s no one better than your team to do it. Unlike hired actors, they won’t need training, and will come through as genuine and interested. In short, using your real staff will save you time, money, and deliver better results.
It’s also fundamental that, even when you guide your employees to speak of a certain topic in a certain way, you let them use their own words and express themselves. This way your message will feel genuine – something critical for your video to work. Asking them to memorize a text may result in noticeable mistakes and anxiety.
It’s not about looking honest. It’s about being honest. Viewers will notice this, and they’ll appreciate it. You will earn their trust. And your team will also appreciate being a part of it all.
There are never too many takes
Even when the first take seems perfect, shoot an extra one. Try to have about three good takes of every frame.
The post-production team will be thankful. They may end up using a part of one of the extras to compensate for problems with the original one.
Be realistic about post-production
The video will be put together by an editor, not a wizard.
It’s definitely possible to improve the outcomes of the shooting stage, but it’s not that simple to fix them entirely.
Any problem that can be solved during the shooting should be taken care of at that stage. Don’t let the quality of the final product rely only on the skills of your editor alone.
This is the stage in which the shots are finally transformed into a story that flows smoothly. This is also the part in which graphics, animations, and music are incorporated.
Find a talented person, or team, to work on your project and bring the video you are envisioning to life. The editing of the piece is one of the most make-or-break stages of the final product, and it’s definitely not one where you’ll want to cut corners.
Good editing will do wonders with the material you have, and ensure the essence of your brand shines through in every frame.
The right company story will definitely help you connect with your customers in a way that can deepen their interactions with your brand. It lets them see the heart of your business and therefore allows them to perceive your company in a more empathetic way.
In their minds, the emotional connection created by this type of content will set you apart from your competitors and will reflect in your bottom line. But, maybe more importantly, it will reflect in the loyalty of your customers.
So, get your thinking cap on and start planning that amazing company culture video you’ve been thinking about. I promise you won’t regret it.
Victor Blasco’s an audiovisual designer, video marketing expert, and founder/CEO of the explainer video company Yum Yum Videos. Besides running the business, he’s a lifelong student of Chinese philosophy and a passionate geek for all things sci-fi.