8 Steps for Producing a Well-Branded Video
When creating a corporate video, it is ideal that the final product reflects your company’s brand. This is true whether your video is a training course for employees or a demo reel for potential clients. But what does a branded video look like in a practical sense?
This winter, I had the privilege of directing an onboarding video for Bixal’s incoming employees, and through the experience I learned much about the intersection of branding, motion graphics, and video production. My findings revealed that branding is often a deeper issue than it appears.
Here are the steps I took to establish Bixal’s brand throughout the entire creative process. I invite you to use or adapt them for your own video projects.
1. Describe the culture.
Start by describing your company’s culture. You can find key words and phrases by casually interviewing the staff and managers, by studying the company website, or by writing down your own observations.
In my case, I drew a mind map, beginning with the question: “What is it like to work at Bixal?” From there I jotted down a random collection of words, phrases, and ideas. As my mind map grew, I circled repeating words and listed them separately. This list formed the foundation of the video’s direction.
2. Define the audience.
Who will be watching your video? Clients? Employees? The tone of the video will change depending on the audience, so make sure it is defined early on. For us, the audience was incoming employees. The video’s purpose was to introduce and orient them to the company.
3. Identify what already exists.
Look into how your company already communicates with this audience. What kind of tone is used? What kind of vocabulary? Take note of the details, such as fonts, colors, and other design elements that might be at play.
In my case, I skipped over Bixal’s website – which is primarily geared toward an outward-facing audience – and instead focused on the company’s internal communication. I paid attention to chat rooms, emails, and internal meetings, to get a better idea of what it was like working inside the company, as opposed to how the company presented itself to clients.
4. Walk in your audience’s shoes.
It can be helpful to experience your audience’s environment firsthand. To get a better idea of what it felt like inside the company, I literally took a walk around the office with a sketchbook and took note of what I saw. In the lounge, sunlight streamed through wide windows onto modern, minimally designed furniture. The décor in the lobby felt sleek and friendly, with more curves than angles. The overall result was a clean, open-feeling environment.
I compared the office to the website, which had more straight edges, and as a result appears slightly more formal. I knew that the office environment, rather than the website, should primarily drive my design decisions.
5. Create a mood board.
Even if you don’t assemble an actual mood board, you will need to gather your findings, either for your own benefit or to pitch your project. In my case, I created sample frames to demonstrate my proposed design direction.
A few things you should decide at this stage:
Style. Should the video have a modern or classic aesthetic? Should it be edgy or clean? Casual or formal? Homespun or polished?
Colors. Does the exact shade of the logo work well for motion graphic assets? Would a muted version of the color be more versatile instead? Based on the feel, tone, and mood of the company culture, is there also a broader color scheme you can explore?
Design elements. This applies more to motion graphics than video footage. Based on how your company already communicates with the chosen audience, should your graphics have more curves or angles? Should the designs be flat or realistic? Muted or brightly colored?
After making these decisions myself, I presented them for review. Once the direction had approval, I was set to dive into execution.
6. Write a motivated script.
As you write your script, always keep the audience in mind. Let the intended audience – and the company’s brand values – drive your wording and approach.
In our case, writing the script was a collaborative process that involved the president, vice president, and several other employees. It went through multiple drafts in which we all had free reign to edit the wording. In the end, we had written something everyone agreed with and had contributed to. As a result, it was more cohesively in line with the general voice of the company.
7. Be mindful on shoot day.
The video we created was part animation, part footage. There were a couple things we had to keep in mind while setting up for the interview shoot:
Lighting – How can the lighting contribute to or take away from the brand? In our shots, we ended up using a lot of soft, natural light, which felt consistent with the clean, conversational tone of the video.
Color – Are the outfits of the interviewees congruent with the brand? What about your scene location; does it best reflect the color scheme and environment of the video?
8. Be mindful in post-production.
Even in the final leg of the project, there are various aspects to bear in mind for branding. Consider the speed of your editing, or your animation, if you have any in your video. Should assets zip or ease into position? Should their motion be gentle or aggressive? Should it be calm or energetic? Choose a style of motion that makes sense for the brand and audience.
And of course, we must not forget the final element: music. Music defines the mood of a video more than anything else. You could even say it’s the most important – and most delicate – part of the video. The right song will accentuate the tone of the message; the wrong one will ruin it. Take the time to get the music right.
In my case, I spent an hour finding each of the songs that ended up the final video. In the end, both were friendly, bright, appropriately corporate, and had the right touch of playfulness for our purposes.
If you want to create a video that is truly aligned with your company’s brand, you can’t just grab colors and fonts from the company website and consider your job done. Branding, of course, is much deeper than surface appearances. At its core, a brand is an attitude, a perspective, a set of values and personality traits. You have to start by understanding the heart of the brand. Once you do, this awareness will not only motivate your design decisions, but it will guide every stage of the creative process, from pre-production up through the final edit.