How to use video to build your brand

Creative Director Mike Sedgwick was recently interviewed by NatWest’s ContentLive site for an article about video for brand building. You can read the full piece on their site – here’s his Q&A:

Please tell me a bit about yourself and your work.

I’ve been directing & producing video content for 20 years now, creating films for everyone from the NHS to Vodafone. I love helping businesses draw out the human stories within, to create films that inspire people to take action.

What are the benefits of using video to build a personal and/or business brand?

As a species, we’ve been looking at things – human faces, cave paintings, etc – for longer than we’ve been reading words. So images are far more immediate. And we’ve been telling stories for much longer too.

Video brings those two elements together powerfully. At By This River, we have a guiding principle of ‘show don’t tell’ meaning that in order to play to the strengths of video, you need to embrace the visual format. Avoid the initial temptation to deliver everything with words.

People are used to watching excellent films in their private life, so if you can entertain them with your business communications, then you’ve got a chance. Thirdly, 82% of consumer internet traffic is expected to be video by 2020, so why wouldn’t you get involved?

What ways can video be utilised?

There are so many. As a business owner I think you can go a long way by splitting your video output into three categories: Aspirational – glossy, hearts and minds stuff; Belonging – getting your team (leaders, key players) onscreen for thought leadership material; and Collateral – accumulating a media archive of sales features or company proof points.

On an individual basis, it’s never been easier to use video for personal branding especially around recruitment. And lastly the varied world of mixed reality (including AR and VR) is continuing to develop, bringing exciting new opportunities in video.

How have you used it for your clients? Please tell me about some of your success stories.

We hear of success in different ways. Sometimes it’s through winning awards, or news from our clients about the reaction and feedback they’ve received when our film has been shown. In the social media world, much is set in store by the actions it’s created for that particular client.

Some recent examples are imagining the digital future for an insurance company, creating a series of cute 10 second adverts that were shared thousands of times on social media. And we created a whole e-learning programme on adoption for schools, including all animation and the dedicated website.

What challenges might people meet when trying to start doing this and how would you recommend they overcome them?

It might sound counterintuitive, but when starting to plan a video, don’t start with the film. Sometimes small businesses rush straight into making a film and then wonder why they don’t get the results they wanted. It can be a financial commitment, so it’s worth taking the time to really think through your wider comms strategy and what you want your video to do – and even if video is the right solution for the problem. Larger businesses are often more used to making videos, but can face a different kind of challenge, such as achieving brand cohesion across their range of output – you want to get to a point where it doesn’t matter which clip someone sees first, because they all enhance rather than detract from your brand.

For personal branding uses, I think people sometimes struggle because they think there is a certain way they should be on camera. But it’s really about authenticity, and being yourself. Easy to say, not always easy to do, when there’s a camera and maybe some lights pointing at you. So it’s good to start practising whenever you can, and getting honest feedback, to help you ‘get over yourself’.

And lastly, people can be nervous about budgets, and big commitments. All I’d say is that the world of video has never been more accessible and democratic. You may not be able to go for the ‘Aspirational’ content just now, but you can start on the ‘Collateral’ with just a phone and a free video editing app, and that might be what you need to start building that footprint.

What practical tips and advice would you give someone wanting to make use of video for the first time?

Start by using the camera in the palm of your hand. Film someone in your team or volunteer to be filmed yourself, and start becoming familiar with things like framing, lighting, and sound. If you’re commissioning an agency for some strategic advice or glossier film making then do some research, look for styles you like or films that move you. It’ll make briefing so much easier.

In summary, here are our 5 top tips when looking into video for your business:

  1. Focus on the human stories in your business to inspire people to take action.
  2. In order to play to video’s strengths, think: show don’t tell.
  3. Use video for company branding especially around recruitment.
  4. When planning a film, don’t start with the film. Think about your overall communications strategy first.
  5. Learn about how to get what you want from video by experimenting with your phone.

Whatever your requirements we can help you devise the best video strategy for your business through our combined experience of PR, social media and film. Call us for a free consultation or to talk about filming training today.

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

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