Five branded content examples to make you want to shakedown the CFO

Posted by Nick Francis
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One of the most exciting developments in corporate/brand video production over the last ten years has been the growth in content which is very light touch on branding or marketing messages. As audiences have become more empowered to choose how they spend their time online brands have looked to align themselves with the types of content which their audiences go out of their way to find and watch.

This has led to some really cool, very watchable examples. Because we really love a list here we thought we’d pull together five of our favs to whet your appetites for the opportunities that are available. As Red Bull showed with their Stratos Jump even the sky isn’t the limit when it comes to this stuff…

Star Alliance – Connecting Cultures

WSJ STAR ALLIANCE TRAILER

Jobs don’t get much more desirable than being an actual travel journalist. Star Alliance and Wall St Journal tasked Robert Reid with going to six of the destinations serviced by their airlines around the world. The challenge was for him to have an adventure in each which went beyond the standard experience that visitors to those locations usually enjoy. Cue Muay Thai kick boxing in Bangkok, racing with huskies in Canada and performing live at the Native American Gathering of Nations. Beautifully shot, dynamic and brilliantly presented by Robert, these are a gem.

WSJ - StarAlliance USA

Robert Reid drums at the Gathering of Nations in New Mexico.

 

Allianz – #CarStories ‘Safari’

Allianz - Hamers Safari-1

How can branded content work for an insurance company? Well, armed with the insight that by providing car insurance, Allianz facilitate the huge amount of family life experience which is lived in the family car, we set about creating a series of videos for social which illustrated what that means. The short, honest portrayals were a massive hit and generated huge engagement on Facebook, where their short length made them easily consumable and sharable.

“The YouTube view completion rate was 85%!

Which was so high that the YouTube team got in touch with

us to find out how we did it.”

In order to be real the production team set up a fixed rig of cameras in each car and then let the families get on with it while the production was monitored from a car behind. The director was able to communicate with an ear piece in one of the adult’s ears to keep them on track.

 

Adobe – Jonathan Adler

Adobe - Jonathan Adler Teaser

Adobe have created a wide range of really lovely content for their Create channel – which is well worth checking out. We really like this video because Jonathan’s character comes across to clearly and amusingly. This goes to show that if you can find a great interviewee, the ‘talking head’ and b-roll format can be extremely effective.

Adobe - Sharm

We also recently delivered this film which features London graphic artist Sharm Murugiah. Again, thanks to Sharm's stunning work and some overlaid graphics, the film looks kind of delish.

 

Glenmorangie – Evolution of Craft

Glenmorangie - Evolution of Craft (1)

 

Prestige whisky brand Glenmorangie wanted to illustrate the craft that goes into making their Scotch. What better way of doing that than getting celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson to take a trip to the distillery and see the process for himself. His presentation and genuine passion for the product really shine through.

Upworthy – Acting Stereotypes

Upworthy - Acting Sterotypes

Sometimes branded content can be about something that really matters. This film for Upworthy excellently illustrates the challenges of racial stereotyping in one of its most blatant forms - the way non-white actors are asked to respond to casting and direction. A hard hitting point made powerfully and all the more effectively thanks to the tiny bit of humour added by the actors at the offensive bizarreness of the situation.


Whatever you're trying to create, getting the brief just right gets you off to the very best start. You can download our free guide to writing a really effective brief right here.

 

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, Purpose driven video, Content Strategy, Brands as broadcasters

What's it like filming in a rainforest in London?

Posted by Nick Francis
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We’ve recently delivered a series of films for London Zoo on Behalf of Evening Standard Independent Group. It’s been a real labour of love for the crew, particularly Olly Atkinson, who has always had a bit of a soft spot for our furry friends. In his rich and varied careers before Casual he produced none other than the Secret Life of Hedgehogs. David Attenborough watch your back.

To find out a bit more about the process of shooting in the zoo we caught up with Olly to ask him about some of the challenges of shooting in a synthesised rainforest. Misty camera lenses and plastic cased GoPros watch out – the climbing anteater is about…

London Zoo Olly Interview

Casual's London MD, Olly Atkinson, who produced the films explains some of surprising challenges of shooting in a zoo! Keep watching to see the film at the end


Whatever you want to make a video about or expert global team are on hand to help. Fill in your details and thoughts on the form on this page and one of them will get back in touch very shortly. We've produced work from the Canadian Arctic to the Iraqi Desert (and a fair few conference rooms in between), so our staff understand your challenges and how to translate them into effective video content efficiently, whether your films subjects are going to try to break open and eat the camera, or not.

You can find the book a call back form here.

 

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Production process, How-to, About Casual

What is Big Rock Content?

Posted by Nick Francis
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“What you’re really seeking is to be trusted, to be heard, to be talked about, and to matter. And if we look at any brand that’s succeeded, that is what they have done.”
- Jason Miller, Content and Social Marketing Leader, LinkedIn

The term ‘Big Rock’ content was initially coined by Jason Miller, LinkedIn’s Head of Content. He describes it as a piece of content so substantial it allows the brand sharing it to ‘own the conversation’. This is the ultimate extension of Google’s hero content. Red Bull’s ‘Stratos Jump’ is a perfect example of this; it’s so audacious and the brand’s ownership is so complete that it excludes anyone else from getting involved.

 

However, this is maybe pushing the realms of possibility for 99.99% of brands. Nike’s ‘Breaking 2’ was one of the standout pieces of content in 2017, where the brand got together three of the fastest marathon runners in an attempt to break the 2-hour barrier. The attempt created a large amount of support - atomised - content, and earned large amounts of online coverage.

Talks at GS Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell on Talks at GS

A slightly more accessible example of this is Goldman Sachs Talks at GS series. These productions – reminiscent of TED talks in their approach and quality – feature presidents, actors, and business and charity founders, who are some of the most interesting thinkers and personalities of our time. The interviews are up to 20 to 30 minutes in length, which means that there is loads of content that can be repurposed into shorter outputs to be shared elsewhere. The channel sets the bank up as a powerhouse for global business and financial success, and has earned over 30 million views on YouTube so far.

Whatever you decide to make your ‘Big Rock’, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

Make it really big and really desirable. It needs to be audacious and eye-catching enough for your audience to share their personal details with you to get involved. This may just be an email address, but it could be so significant that they will actually pay for it. Whatever the goal – make it big.

Consider two points: What conversation do you want to own? What is the number-one question on your audience’s minds? Where do these two questions intersect? They may well not, in which case you need to think about how you can transpose the two without compromising too much. This is where you should place your ‘Big Rock’.

Once you’ve made the investment in your ‘Big Rock’, you can repurpose parts of the output again and again - 'atomising' it if you like. You can use these smaller pieces of content to drive engagement with the central story. This can, in turn, massively increase your return on the original investment.


Whether you want some guidance on what your 'Big Rock' might be, or if you just want to make sure you're sharing the right kind of content in the first place, a free consultation call is a great place to start. Click here to book a call back with one of our content experts and learn just how much more your content could be doing for you.

 

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy, Brands as broadcasters

Learning from Nike : How context supercharges content effectiveness

Posted by Nick Francis
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Timing, they say, is everything.

Your audience are faced by a deluge of content every time they browse their social channels. Which is why it is getting harder and harder to cut through to them. Like random banner ads before them, so much content is subconsciously filtered out before they even notice it. The only way to get around it is by creating work that your audience are predisposed to engage with at the moment they see it. This is why the context in which it is viewed is essential in landing your content with them.

Subconscious Filtering?

This filtering of information is essential to allow us to focus on what is important and to stop us from going crazy from monitoring the huge number of stimuli that our bodies sense at any given moment. From thousands our brains limit us to being aware of only around 40. To do this, our RAS or Reticular Activating System (the brain’s CPU) instantaneously filters out anything which our subconscious judges to be extraneous information. This part of the brain learns very quickly what to look out for – it is why when you are looking at buying a red Volkswagen you suddenly see red Volkswagens everywhere. It, of course, also works for the things that we have learned to ignore.

1280-reticular-activating-systemThis is why we can see a hundred different ads while scrolling or browsing and never really notice them, but then one pops up with just the right thing at just the right time and boom, we click-through and buy. This is the essence of context. This is the importance of timing, which is why programmatic retargeting has been so successful (the process that continues to advertise products to you after you have visited a certain webpage). It’s why Google has grown to be, well, Google.

Get the timing right and an ad which cost you pennies to place can become the most valuable piece of advertising you do that day.

Nike put Tiger Wood's Masters win in context

Last weekend you may have noticed that Tiger Woods staged one of the most impressive career come backs in the history of golf, if not sport. He was once the global megastar of the sport, winning 14 major titles and being accused of ruining the game by making the rest of the world's best compete for second place. His implacable, uncompromisingly focused facade hid some challenging truths which came home to roost in dramatic fashion. He fell from grace, he lost his game and dropped out of the World's Top 1000. Most people wrote him off. Last weekend, he came back back and won his 5th US Masters - one, if not the, of the hardest fought tournaments in the sport - at the age of 43, the second oldest winner ever. It was a stunning moment in a story that has captivated the world of sport for nearly over 20 years.

Nike's Same Dream Spot - shared in the moments after Wood's win

Behind the scenes on Sunday, there was another level of genius/fortunate planning at work. In the moments after Woods donned the cherished green jacket of the Masters winner Nike shared an ad on their social channels which nailed the feeling of the moment. A relatively inexpensive edit which allowed them to capitalise on the estimated $22.5M worth of publicity that the brand received while Woods completed his final round. Sunday was the most watched round of golf in history. As far as content goes the edit was pretty basic – a few recuts of old footage of Tiger playing with some inspirational interview audio from his early life. For a brand like Nike the production of a piece of content like this is almost as basic it gets – it was after all a punt on their man actually winning– but it paid off in spades. 

Oreo - You can still dunk in the dark Super BowlOreo shared this image on Twitter when the lights famously went out during the 2013 Super Bowl

Like the Oreo – “you can still dunk in the dark” tweet – it smashed any goal the brand might have set because it was timed to utter perfection. It was amusing and impressive that they were ready with someone who knew what they were doing to be able to create and share it. But it was the timing that really nailed it. That was why it was retweeted 10,000 times in the first hour and was regarded by many as the prestigious 'ad of the night', beating out competition from spots which cost literally one million times more.

How to think about Context

Given the depth of data now available about your audience online, traditional demographic data – the meat and gravy of traditional (pre-digital) audience targeting is fairly lacking. This is because you ultimately want to target anyone who might buy your product or be the right fit for your job - it doesn’t matter where they live or how old they are. A more effective way of thinking about audience targeting is through Behaviours, Emotions and Moments or BEMs:

Behaviours:
Have consumers demonstrated (or exhibited proxy behaviour) that indicates interest in a specific or related product area? Have they actively sought out or mentioned a particular product or service? 
Emotions:
Has a particular product or service suddenly become more relevant to them? Are they posting emotional responses that suggest they would be receptive to certain brand messages? Ice cream can be great for lifting the spirits, a new job for those dissatisfied with work, a glass of champagne for someone feeling elated.
Moments:
What event might trigger a desire to buy or interact? Possibly changes in weather, transport strikes or sports events? Has the consumer entered a specific location which might make them more susceptible to your message - there is always a surge in job searching and relationship breakups around and immediately after Christmas.

Thousands of golfers will have been thinking: "I wonder what putters there are on the market at the minute?" Bang. That was the moment the video hit. That is the essence of context.

The reason this timing is so essential is that it allows the marketer to take advantage of the specific triggers that will lead your audience to engage in any given moment. How many people reached for an Oreo while watching the Super Bowl after seeing that tweet and in all the press it got afterward? More to the point, the Nike video was perfectly timed because it was shared at the moment that the audience are at their most inspired. Thousands of golfers will have been thinking about dusting off the clubs and maybe replacing their putter before playing a round. "I wonder what putters there are on the market at the minute?" Bang. That was the moment the video hit. Building on the positivity and oozy feelgood-ness of the moment and tying the brand into his glory. Making sure it was front of mind for anyone thinking of getting back out there and 'spoiling a good walk' - as Oscar Wilde would have said.

How can you find out about the BEMs of your audience?

The best way to work out the BEMs that work most effectively for your target audience is through testing and measuring. Make some sensible assumptions and then try them out. How can you use the information that you know about your audience to create content that will hit them while they're doing just the right thing, at just the right time, in just the right mood to engage? Test, measure, reiterate and improve.


Wherever or whenever you are targeting your audience, according to Google/YouTube the key to effective content campaigns is really great content. Download our free ten step guide to making sure the material you share is as good as it can be right here:

DOWNLOAD COMMANDMENTS

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Explain or promote products and services, Increase brand awareness and appeal, Boost sales and encourage donations, Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy

Your business is now a media company. What does that mean for you?

Posted by Nick Francis
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No matter what your business does, advances in technology mean you now have the ability to create and share more content than ever before. This puts you in charge of your own content channel. Your audience expect you to use it. This post will show you how.

Media company?

Advances in technology have put the power of production studios in the palms of our hands. At the same time, global distribution is easier than ever. This has major implications for all of us, particularly those in business communications. Many brands have taken advantage of these evolutions to take on the role of broadcasters in their own right – the leaders in the space have generated brand value which challenges that of the actual product.

Nearly every business is creating and sharing more content than they have in the past. Whether you like it or not, your audience – customers, staff, shareholders – expect you to use the channels available to you to communicate with them. To capitalise on this you need to make a series of mindset shifts about the content that you share:

  • Your content is a product
  • Your purpose is your cornerstone
  • Increase your timeframe
  • Combine different content threads
  • Think multichannel

 

1. Your content is a product

The most important shift towards operating like a media company is to value your content like any of the other product that your organisation produces. Traditional broadcasters, of course, have to think like that as it’s their only output. Whatever your company produces, if you’re serious about building your brand’s cachet, you need to think of your content as additional element of your product offering to your customers.

Autodesk - 3D Printing

Your content should be TRUE - Timely, Relevant, Useful, Entertaining

Why is this? In your audience’s minds, it’s difficult to unpick the different elements that contribute to your brand’s value. If you create and share material that hasn’t been properly thought through, incoherent or poor quality, what does that say about the rest of the things that your business produces? There was a time in the early days of having video online when you could be forgiven for sharing substandard work. That time has passed – with modern tools almost every member of your audience has the ability to create and share quality content. They are also used to consuming high quality content through YouTube and Netflix. The material you share has to be of value to the audience in order to cut through to them.

 2. Your purpose is your cornerstone

Like any traditional media channel, there needs to be a degree of coherence to the content you share. Think about watching BBC2 or Channel Five in the UK, or Fox News or HBO in the US. They have a feel about them, which if you’re familiar with them, you will be able to pick up on. The branding and tone of voice of your channel is a post for another time (or maybe a call). For now, suffice to say that all the content that you share should have an association with your purpose as a business.

Your business purpose is useful for defining your content because it leads to that important coherence and more impactful content. Most businesses now have a purpose which goes beyond the simple profit motive – what Simon Sinek calls their ‘Why’. This forms an excellent jumping off point for all of the content that you produce. It doesn’t necessarily mean your content need to all be about your purpose, but there should be a straight-line association between the two.

3. Increase your timeframe

Another shift to make is to understand that to see the returns that this approach offers you need to be prepared to build your audience following over a longer term that you might currently be used to. Traditional marketing tends to take place on a seasonal cycle. Spring follows winter follow autumn etc. This is largely the effect of the quarterly and annual business reporting cycle. It will take a longer period to build the following and brand affinity with your audience that being a broadcaster can generate.

Traditional broadcasters tend to think in decades. They aim to engage viewers in their mid-to-late teens, and then keep them, with different types of programming, throughout their lives. Now, of course, this is completely unrealistic as a timeframe for the majority of businesses, but the evolution of content that a network offers over a lifetime can be condensed into the different types of content that you should share over a prospective customer’s sales/engagement-lifecycle journey.

Long-term business value relies on finding, keeping and growing customers who come back to our brands for years. We do that by becoming so much more to our consumers than just a soap or shoe supplier. We want our products to be as useful to our customers as they possibly can be, so why not aim to make the content that supports them as helpful as possible too? We want to provide the customer with as much value as we economically can – whether that is in the quality of your physical product, or in the material that you share to support and promote it.

These businesses don’t think in discrete, cyclical campaigns, but in a rolling, evolving journey for their audience – much like a traditional network TV channel. There are – of course – quick wins to be had, and video can drive very immediate results, which is all that the majority of businesses are going to use it for, and that’s fine. There is no reason why your business can’t positively transform its standing in the market on the back of a carefully considered, creative content strategy. To do that, you need to start thinking a little longer term.

4. Maximise your content

In terms of engagement rates, video is the most important type of content for you to share, There are many different types which can back this up, providing engagement in different spheres on the many different platforms. These might include written blogs, Instagram posts or podcasts. It is often possible to repurpose or reedit content to maximise the return for your investment. This might include pulling images for Instagram or ripping audio to be shared as a podcast. The production of video and blogs take time so you want to make sure you get the maximum mileage from them.

Social MediaIn the old cliché - 'fish where the fish are'

5. Think multichannel

Your audience engage with different platforms in different ways at different times of the day. You need to share the content in the way that they want to consume it – not the other way around. For example, your audience might engage with short form ‘snack’ content on Snapchat in the morning but be prepared to watch a longer piece of content on YouTube in the evening. They don’t necessarily see the distinct definitions between different platforms that you do. Whatever the platform you are sharing content on, it is important that the underlying brand narrative is consistent (See point 2). 


Whatever stage you’re at in your content journey we’re keen to help you get to the next level. Drop us a line and we can help you make 2019 your best year yet.

If you want to read more about how to create a content strategy, or if you just want to learn about the difference between a Gaffer and a Focus puller you should check out Nick’s new book: The New Fire: Harness the Power of Video for Your Business.

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy

Five Awesome Brand Films to Get You Inspired for 2019

Posted by Nick Francis
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Being an almost limitlessly creative medium makes video an exciting and rewarding tool to work with. One of the things we like about making video for businesses is that we have very clear constraints within which to work. Unconstrained creativity is anarchic. Within constraints creativity flourishes. This is why having a well thought out brief is so central to creating work which is memorable and effective. You can download our guide to writing a good brief here.

Before you start with any project it helps to have an idea of the kind of thing you want to produce. To that end, we thought we’d pull together a few films which nail it - to help you to channel your thinking. Have a watch, have a think, and then maybe get in touch with an exciting production company you might know...

Dramatised Charity Film: 

Oxfam – The Heist No One is Talking About

 

This is probably my favourite charity film of all time. By reframing the issue of tax evasion, it makes the subject far more tangible for the audience. It is as illuminating as it is memorable. The cinematic production really adds to the drama and impact.

Inspiration point:

Films with this much gloss and thought require a significant investment. You can get a long way to a result like this with some decent creative thought up front. Once you have an idea as powerful as this, there are almost limitless ways of producing it - Hollywood production values or not.

 

Repurposed Material:

BMW Careers

BMW - Careers (1)

We love this film because it demonstrates how effective video can be at illustrating company culture. It was produced from the large amount of material that BMW already had. This was combined with some library footage and a punchy soundtrack, to deliver an effect that is eye-catching, memorable and effective.

Inspiration point:

Even if you're not BMW with endless amounts of great footage, have a think about the material you already have. Maybe you can update it, add to it or repurpose it easily to give you great content that you can get more mileage out of.

 

Business Mini-Doc:

AutoDesk – History of 3D Printing 

Autodesk - 3D Printing

Most companies are associated with interesting stories if you look beneath the surface. I like this mini documentary because it allows Autodesk to give real depth and context to the work that they do. It builds trust with the company both internally - with employees - and externally - with customers, prospects and potential recruits.

Inspiration point:

Admittedly, 3D printing is kind of cool and looks good on camera – especially the time lapse footage. There are always interesting stories that you can use to build trust with your brand if you look for them. Keep an open mind and ask around. Ask your employees/colleagues/clients. Video is a magnifying glass on issues. You can make a film about an individual or an event and reflect the story of the many.

 

Interactive:

Aloe Black

 Love is the Answer InteractiveThis will link you out to an external site.

This isn’t a brand film, and the interactive is pretty basic, but we still tend to go to this as a great example of the medium, because it’s so satisfying. It doesn’t hurt that the track is ace too. As with any new creative technology, some of the early  interactive has been a little prone to gimmickry. This confidently avoids that because the interactive adds to the narrative of the band coming together. It manages to inspire excitement as we switch from storyline to storyline, seeing what the next band member is up to. This could be used in a corporate context to show almost any process where different threads run concurrently - a recruitment process, a product being assembled or an even being prepared.

Inspiration point:

Interactive video is a great way of increasing engagement with your audience. We have seen engagement rates on some of our interactive films rate at nearly 4x live action video. It may seem a little intimidating, but it just requires an understanding of the mechanics and a little preplanning.  

  

Mixed Media Product Launch

Apple’s Big News

 

Sure, it’s Apple, so it’s stylish, glossy and delish. Producing something like this doesn’t need to cost an Apple budget though. This video works because it combines a number of elements effectively: live action video, on screen type, beautifully rendered animation, powerful audio blended with a strong dash of humour. Most of these elements are inexpensive to create, it just requires a good script and some planning. They can come up with the creative idea and then produce it quickly and efficiently. 

Inspiration point:

 

It's easier to create something like this than it looks. Being clear on what you're trying to achieve before you start is the key. Once you have this, a professional producer can help you to create something memorable and effective.


It helps the production team if you have an idea what you want your video to look like. Whatever you're trying to achieve take a moment to consult our easy to follow guide to writing briefs which will make your video more engaging, memorable and ultimately effective.

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Increase brand awareness and appeal, Boost sales and encourage donations, Being a better commissioner, Repurposed content, Content Strategy

Marketers? Your goal: Create genuine value for your audience

Posted by Nick Francis
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The Internet has sped up our lives – email has turned airmail into ‘snail mail’. Mobile Internet connectivity has made our lives faster still. We’re being robbed of the last shreds of time we had to think. The pace of life, and the profusion of different channels and distractions has sharpened our perception of the value of our time.

As marketers, this poses a challenge for getting our communications heard. Along with this heightened awareness, the audience has control of how they invest their time. With the growth in ad-blocking software, marketing messages face a challenge to be noticed. For us to achieve cut-through (landing our message with the audience), our content has to pass over a higher ‘is this a valuable use of my time?’ bar than ever.  It has to provide genuine value to the audience, making their lives better for having interacted with it, even just a tiny bit.

Tom Fishbourne Adding ValueLike so many of Tom Fishbourne's excellent cartoon's this delivers an important truth that is invaluable for marketers 

Being ‘TRUE’

Content marketing is about delivering ‘value’ to the audience. What do we actually mean by that? Marketing guru Seth Godin describes it as follows:

“…something that people would seek out, and that they would miss if it wasn’t there.” 

In terms of thinking about your content, a simple guide to this is that the audience are looking for something that is TRUE; that is, timely, relevant, useful or entertaining. The better you understand your audience, the more effective the content that you create for them will be. Let’s look at what is meant by each of those terms:

Timely

Timing is key to effective content. Think about how successful Oreo was with its “You Can Dunk in the Dark” tweet, when the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl. It was picked up by the 23 million Twitter users who were watching the game, and ended up being regarded as the ad of the evening – a title that many companies had spent millions of dollars for a shot at, and failed. It goes without saying that what is timely for one viewer is annoyingly late for another – good advice 30 seconds too late is annoying.

Relevant

As we touched on previously, the content has to be relevant to the audience. This almost goes without saying – we all constantly filter the information that assails us every waking moment. Because of this, your audience are keenly aware of what does and doesn’t apply to them. Think about what is going to be relevant for your viewers – this might now be directly obvious. For example, if you’re trying to market an apprentice scheme to school leavers, they may be interested in advice on renting a home for the first time. This information is obviously not so interesting to those looking to move job as an experienced hire. This underlines the importance of understanding your audience and what is relevant to them.

A word of warning here, according to research by LinkedIn, 44% of their respondents said they would consider ending a relationship with a brand because of irrelevant promotions. An additional 22% said that they would ‘definitely defect’ from that brand. Knowing your audience and making content that is relevant to them is essential.

"44% would consider ending a relationship with a brand because of irrelevant promotions.

22% would definitely defect"

- LinkedIn

Useful

One step on from being relevant is content that is actually useful. Providing how-tos, instructions, discounts and tie-ins with other products that they may be using are all ways of being useful to your audience. Once again, what is useful to your viewers might not be immediately obvious – look at the previous example. Home-renting advice is also useful to the target audience. These different types of value do not exist in isolation – each piece of content can be a combination of one or more things.

Casual Films Provide Value Tyler Milligan

You must create content that your audience will actively seek out, love and share because it's great.

Entertaining

We all need a little entertainment from time to time. If you can get it right, this is a great way of drawing in your audience and winning them over. Tread carefully with this though – you have to make sure that whatever you share ties in with your brand. You need to earn the trust of the audience before making drastic departures in tone of voice.

The content you produce doesn’t need to be all of these things at the same time – any one or two will work, as long as it/they provide enough value in that given area. The more entertaining and relevant your work content is, for example, the more the chance there is that it will be watched, shared and loved.

 

There are different ways of skinning a cat though...

Google defines the different ways of engaging your audience with your content slightly differently:

- Inspire the audience with emotional and relatable stories.

- Educate the audience with useful information.

- Entertain the audience by surprising them, making them laugh or sharing spectacular content.

There is no right or wrong way of looking at these; they are just a different way of looking at the same underlying principles. I hope that seeing them from a slightly different angle will help you to understand them and use them.


If you found this interesting and would you like to learn more about how to make really great content?

We have condensed the last decade and nearly 10,000 films worth of learning into what we consider to be the Ten Commandments of Better Video. You can download them here.

Download ten ways to make better videos Jakub Gorajek

Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, Content Strategy

YouTube’s content structure: Hero, Hub and Hygiene/Help

Posted by Nick Francis
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In the same way that traditional broadcast channels have schedules and different types of programming for different audiences/time of day, so can your business. You don’t necessarily need the same breadth of programmes that they have. But it is worth thinking considering how your audience interacts with the different content that you create or curate.

A few years ago now the helpful people at Youtube published their guide for content planning. This defined three different types of video which reflect the different ways audiences access content online. They called this structure: Hero, Hub and Hygiene.

Hero Hub Help-1The hero, hub and hygiene/help content structure

YouTube realised that the user is drawn into an online video channel in one of two separate ways – they either see something that catches their eye, which gets them to click on it and watch it, or they type in a search term to find out about something that they are specifically looking for. Once on the channel, they should be encouraged to subscribe. From then on, they are sent notifications when the channel is updated with new material; this leads to the necessity of regular magazine-type content. These different types of content give rise to what they have termed hero, hub and hygiene/help.

Hero

This is the really eye-catching, click-bait stuff. It is more akin to traditional TV advertising as a type. This is where you ‘go big’ to raise awareness of your brand and the other content you are sharing. It is often ‘chunked’ or divided into shorter clips or images, and used as a promotion for the channel itself in banners on other sites. Because of this, its purpose is to catch the audience’s eye with the concept, image or title as they browse elsewhere. They then click on the link and are drawn into watching the video, before being served the other content hosted on the channel.

Deutsche Bank - Agile Minds-1

Deutsche Bank: Agile Minds - hero content is not necessarily about spending lots of money

Hub

This is the ongoing magazine-type material. This should be updated regularly with the goal of getting the audience to check back in to see what the latest show is. This is designed to be ‘pushed’ out to existing subscribers; this means that they will receive a notification when there is some new material for them to have a look at. They then click on this and revisit your channel.

Marriott - Wandernaut Show 01

The Marriott Wandernaut Show

This animated series was shared internally to allow staff to hear from key leaders and keep up to date with what was going on across the business. These films gave staff members a reason to check back in and be involved in the company channel.

Hygiene/Help 

Tesco - Lighting

Classic help content: How to Light a Room for Tesco

This is the content that people actually search for – how-tos, guides and instructions. This type of content is designed to pull users into your channel through search results. Initially, YouTube called this ‘hygiene’ because it is about things that people need to do. They since changed this to ‘help’, because that better reflects what it is/does.

How they work together

By using the three different types to complement one another, it is possible to draw an ever-increasing number of subscribers into your channel – an initial goal of any channel operator. How this works can be seen in the following diagram:

Hero Hub HygieneHow it works: building an audience with the hero, hub and hygiene/help content structure

Your audience find Help content by searching for key words or phrases. This leads to a gradually increasing number of subscribers. Having subscribed they continue to be able to access the Hub or magazine style content you share. Additionally, tentpole Hero content is pushed out drawing larger numbers of viewers back onto the channel. These videos cause the viewer numbers to spike, with subscriber numbers increasing proportionately. You then continue to build trust with your subscribers by sharing content which they genuinely like and value. We'll look at that in more depth next time.


Whatever you are trying to achieve with your content. Whether you want to create a simple how-to or a multistage campaign, it's essential to set off on the right foot. To help you to do this, we created our guide to help you create briefs which are better thought out, clearer and more likely to get you the result you're after. Click here to download it:

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Topics: Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Content Strategy

How can corporates use video?

Posted by Nick Francis
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One of the major challenges we had when we started Casual was that video can be used for such a wide range of things. Before we realised the importance of focus, we would answer the question “So, what can you make films about?” with the pretty useless “Almost anything”. Over time, we learned to be a bit more specific, and, in the last 12 years, we have made films that bring the whole of the employee lifestyle to life, from initial awareness, through recruitment, and on to ongoing engagement, and learning and development. We’ve even made films that retain and build a network of alumni for those who’ve moved on. We’ve made product promotions, adverts, discount films, branded content and conference openers. Some of these with actors and others with online influencers, with helicopters, drones and bodycams.

Casual Films Different ways of using video

Casual has made over 8,000 different films for almost everything a company could want a film for. It’s really important to understand that film or moving images can enhance any message you might have to share. Video is a great way of weaving emotion into selected facts. This increases their impact, memorability and the chance that people will act on them. Let’s look at some of the ways that video has been used by corporate communicators.

We use the following classifications at Casual to separate all the different things that our clients have used our work for in the past. This is not exhaustive, but it does give a picture of the breadth of uses. Some of these are quite similar – or even overlap – and rely on similar attributes of video for their effectiveness.

Boost sales 

“Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers.”

– Adobe

The most common films made by companies, which we see in our day-to-day lives, are those designed to sell things. From the dawn of TV, advertisers have been promoting their wares, using every trick in the filmmaker’s book to introduce, promote and explain their products. Films that are able to do this remain the kings of corporate films. From the time in the 1940s and 1950s in which advertisers were able to show that there is a direct line of correlation between the amount spent and sales increases; the budgets for these short films have grown, in some cases to become eye-watering. The annual colosseum of televisual advertising – the US Super Bowl – boasts vast audiences, and hence has a cost of around US$2 million for a 30-second advertising spot. Each year, companies compete to outdo one another and be recognised as having the best commercials of the night.

 

Greater Anglia - Spring Campaign

 

Promoting sales with animation: Greater Anglia Railways

At the other end of the spectrum, the prevalence of regional TV and now the spread of the Internet have made this type of marketing accessible to any business that wants to use it. There are a wide range of approaches available, from the relatively indirect to the focused sales activation described previously.

Encourage donations/funding

The emotive power of video makes it an excellent tool for pulling on the audience’s heartstrings, and getting them to part with their money or time. I’m sure you are aware of the way that charities have used videos since the 1980s. These can also extend to Kickstarter and crowdfunding campaigns. Video’s ability to simplify a message into a really compelling minute or so makes it excellent for this.

Introduce a business

As with encouraging funding, the ability to compress time and turn a ‘who we are’ PowerPoint presentation into a punchy 60-second promotion with music and branded graphics/colours makes video a useful tool to clarify exactly what your business does. The majority of websites that we have audited – over 1,000 thus far – are not using video on their homepage.11 They rely on the visitor being able to grasp what the business does in the few brief seconds before they click elsewhere. It is a truism that people/businesses tend to market to themselves. As such, there is always far too much assumed knowledge, which makes websites impenetrable.

A video is a great way of capturing attention and explaining, in an accessible format, what the visitor should be looking for. This is why having a video on your homepage can improve click-through rates by up to 80%. This video can also be used in presentations, pitches, reception areas and for new joiners/potential recruits – anywhere you might want people to quickly understand, through compelling media, who you are and what you do.

Promote a product or service through explanation 

“4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.”

– Animoto

Explaining succinctly what a product or service is or does is another effective use of video. Once again, most businesses communicating anything assume too much background knowledge. In this instance, video can break down exactly what the product is and does, and build trust and understanding in an accessible package. This may be through an animation, which is effective when used to illustrate complex messaging, because of the ability to ‘show and tell’ at the same time as using accessible metaphors.

Another effective way to promote a service is through interview-led videos with experts, clients or users. These increase the audience’s trust in the product by borrowing from the featured subject’s standing: their expertise or experience. Interview-led films or ‘talking heads’ are useful because they are pretty much the cheapest videos to produce, and we find human faces innately intriguing.

Get people excited

The moving nature of video makes it a great tool for exciting an audience about something. Admittedly, this could be an extension of promoting a product or service. However, it is distinct in that the method is less based on relaying information and explaining, and more focused on generating a positive emotion in the audience. One way of looking at it might be to say that explainer films engage the logical left side of the brain, while a film to get people excited targets the feeling, creative right side. These usually employ a stirring script and a voiceover with powerful music to do this. Both of these types of film, explainer and exciter, aim for the same outcome, though – getting the audience more engaged.

Increase brand awareness / tell a story

In reality, all the video content that companies share has the effect of building (or, unfortunately, sometimes damaging) their brand. Some videos are made specifically for this purpose, though. They may aim to align the business with a cause that matters to their target audience, or reflect on someone or something that they’re interested in. It may extend to them wanting to share a story related to the company – the history or something that has inspired them.

 

Glenmorangie - Evolution of Craft (1)

 

Increasing brand awareness: Glenmorangie - the Evolution of Craft

Attract the best candidates

Video is an excellent way to illustrate relatively intangible things, such as a company’s culture. Most people looking for a role at a new company will research what the job is about, beyond what is included in the job description. Video is a great way of sharing some of the things that make your company special.

Casual Films SGOSS Recruit and Engage

Illustrating your culture: SGOSS - Become a Governor

In the hypercompetitive job market one of the best areas for businesses to compete in is through an engaging, motivating and, crucially, well-communicated culture. Video can be invaluable in helping to build that culture, through communicating what the concept of the brand means. This is where video can be invaluable – it allows you to communicate with your potential (and current) staff on an emotional level. One point to note is that, in the age of resources such as Glassdoor (which allows employees to rate employers for all to see), it is important that the offer and reality align. Recruitment videos are split into two categories: employer/employee value-proposition brand films and profile/day-in-the-life films.  

Videos to promote and clarify a company’s diversity and inclusion policies should be included here too.

Train my colleagues

Another type of internal communication that uses video is learning and development. The zero cost of distribution, and the ability to make changes and amendments to videos on an ongoing basis makes them useful for sharing information and training across a large organisation. Animation works well for information, and interactive video is good for training, because it allows viewers to choose responses and outcomes. The functionality of interactive video also allows for scorekeeping and sharing, which is a useful way of injecting a little competition into the learning process. Beyond that, simply being able to show videos and then have people discuss them helps to increase the effectiveness of the learning.

Change behaviour

The external equivalent of internal training, making films to inform and change behaviour, is nearly as old as film itself; for example, the public information films that were used to keep the population up to speed in the first half of the 20th century. The modern equivalents are usually produced by governments or charities.

Start a discussion/conversation 

Video removes any unnecessary information and pauses. This condenses the amount of time it takes to share different viewpoints in an argument, which makes it useful for setting up a discussion. Such videos are usually played at the beginning of an online/offline discussion, or to change to another subject.

Recording an event

The quality of an event film is, understandably, usually tied to the quality of the event itself. It is a useful way of encapsulating what happened, what was discussed or featured, and who was there. With some appropriate music and a dynamic edit, the video becomes a useful tool for promoting forthcoming events too.

But not everything – emotion vs information

All this having been said, there are some things that video is not great at. Emotion and information exist in a balance in all films. Too much focus on emotion – with practically no information – and the film can feel superficial and lacking in substance (think of most fashion ads). Too much information and not enough emotion, and the film will be dry, difficult to follow and impenetrable (some corporate reports embody this pitfall).

They should be like yin and yang. In every informative film you should have a bit of emotion, and in every emotive film you should have a bit of information (even if that is a basic narrative structure). Because of this, if you have lots and lots of information to get across, video might not be the best way to do it. You will probably find it more effective to create a PDF document, use video to outline a few salient points and promote reading the PDF through a shorter, more engaging film.


Whatever you're making a film to do, it really helps to be clear on what you are trying to achieve from the outset. We pulled together some top tips on how to get your thoughts aligned before you pick up the phone. Following the ideas in this document is the most significant step that you can take to maximise the effectiveness of your project spend. Check it out here:

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Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Train and develop staff, Explain or promote products and services, Increase brand awareness and appeal, Boost sales and encourage donations, Production process, Being a better commissioner

Building trust in the era of fake news

Posted by Nick Francis
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The ‘Age of Transparency’

The Technological Revolution has changed the nature of communication: it is no longer simply the few with the means broadcasting to the masses without. Communication is now omnidirectional: everyone is broadcasting, commenting on and sharing each other’s messages. This environment presents significant challenges for corporate communicators in particular – consistency of message is key. Out of sight is no longer out of mind. In the globalised world, eyes and cameras are everywhere. Blue-chip megaliths can lose billions in market capitalisation from a single incident, with their reaction magnified to the world by omnipresent smartphones. This ‘all-seeing eye’ has illuminated areas that were closed off before. We have become more familiar with the workings of authority. With this familiarity, contempt has crept in, which has led to a general crisis of trust.

Nick Francis Buidling Trust in the Era of Fake News

Scandals in almost every field – for example, sexual harassment/#MeToo, politics, corporate malpractice, police mistreatment (e.g. Black Lives Matter) and hacked answerphones – have led to historically low trust ratings for the traditional pillars of power. Traditional broadcasters are suffering from an onslaught of new media and a resurgent, divisive political movement intent on dismissing discourse; this increases and aims to capitalise on the trust gap.

Set against this backdrop, it’s not surprising that trust has become a, if not the, watchword of business communications. Every business function – from product launches to temporary-staff induction – has to be performed as if the world is watching, because, frankly, it could be.

There is now a constant check on all of your operations and communications. Would-be citizen journalists armed with camera phones are everywhere, as United Airlines found out in April 2017 when their security staff forcibly removed a passenger from a flight at Chicago O’Hare Airport. What was once an anecdote shared among friends now has the potential to become global news, aided by the power of moving image. Put a foot wrong and whistle-blowers – both internal and external – have the means to call you out in potentially ruinous ways. This phenomenon has made various commentators describe the modern age as the ‘Age of Transparency.’

 

“Trust is built on authenticity.”

– Brian Tracy

Beyond the obvious complexities of operating in this ‘Age of Transparency’, lie the challenges of dealing with ‘fake news’. The ability to broadcast has been used by some to share their own ‘alternative facts’. These are then shared and amplified, undermining the public’s faith in everything they see online. While this has impacted traditional media and governments more significantly, it is still a key concern for those in business communications.

Have faith though. All new technology takes a little time for people to understand and use effectively. Think of the men with red flags running in front of early cars to warn pedestrians, or cell phones ringing all the time before society discovered the vibrate function. We are living through an unprecedented period of technological advancement, so it’s unsurprising that there will be some growing pains. As I write, some of our brightest minds are working on solutions to these challenges.

Credibility is essential. This is particularly true given that, according to PR giant Edelman’s Annual Global Trust Survey, 69% of those questioned believe that the most important role for the CEO is to make sure that their company is trusted. It is essential to build and maximise the trust of your audience – your employees, your customers and your shareholders – but it can feel like you are swimming against the current. So, how can your communications help you to do that?

 

1. Make it about the audience 

The most valuable thing you can do to make your content resonate, is to make sure that it is right for your audience. They know themselves better than anyone, so they instinctively know what rings true and what feels false.

 

2. Be mindful 

Be careful where you allow your brand to feature online. The whole online environment is not as low trust as might appear at first. There are trusted pockets. It is important to seek these out, and to avoid sharing content on large international platforms that are failing their users and advertisers in providing a space free from lies and hatred.

 

3. Act with humility 

Be prepared to share the challenges as well as the successes. The greatest stories, with the greatest heroes, are not defined by unremitting success. They are made great through adversity. Share your adversity; you will enrich your narrative and the audience will come with you.

 

4. Be transparent 

Brands have been forced to deal directly with complaints and criticism of their online profiles for several years now. Those who have taken an ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach have suffered significantly as a result. It is not an option to not engage, and yet very few, if any, companies have actively welcomed that negative feedback at a deep level and used it to improve themselves. There are, of course, huge challenges in operating a global business. The audience understand this. As with the previous point, put your hands up and explain that you don’t have all the answers, but that you’re doing your best. They will love you for it.

“Being transparent is what gives our business its most important asset – trust. At a time when there is a crisis of trust in many institutions across the world, there has never been a more important time for business to play a leading role in restoring it.”

– Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

 

5. Be consistent 

You will gain the trust of your customers through delivering quality and value in both the content you produce and your products/services. Consumers like to know what they’re going to get, and will prefer to go with something that they know will be a 7/10, rather than shooting for a 9/10 and risking ending up with a 3/10. This desire for the ‘known’ explains the success of business chains to a large degree.

 

6. Deliver on what you promise 

Don’t say anything that you can’t back up with action, again and again. 

 

7. Have a higher purpose

For organisations, these are aspirational by their nature, grounded in humanity and go beyond the profit motive. A business’s purpose is often referred to as its ‘North Star’ – an unattainable, guiding light, against which all activities are measured. It provides clarity for all the decision- making in the business, from the significantly strategic to the day-to-day tactical.

“Purpose is a long-term, forward-looking intention to accomplish aims that are both meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond.”

– Bill Damon, Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence

 

Purpose has come to be referred to as the ‘Why?’ for a business, as outlined by Simon Sinek in his excellent book Start with the WhyIt should clearly articulate the stance of the business, allowing everyone who comes into contact with it to identify whether it aligns with their own value structure and aspirations. As this alignment grows, it graduates to a state that stakeholders are able to describe as ‘belonging’.

This desire to belong to a tribe answers a base yearning within us all. Many of the most successful businesses of our time – Zappos, Ben and Jerry’s, and Apple – have grown through the successful propagation of a tribal belonging among their staff and customers. This is only possible through a powerfully articulated, clear purpose.

This success has led to purpose becoming en vogue for much of the business world. It’s no longer enough to exist to ‘maximise shareholder value’. In the post-2007 world, purpose- and cause-driven business is more important than ever.

We'll return to the purpose of purpose to the content of your content very soon. Watch this space.

 

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, Increase brand awareness and appeal, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Purpose driven video

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