This is the third in a four-part series on brand voice in the written word, audio, video and design.
In our first series edition, we focused on voice in the literary, written sense. And in the second edition, we considered how to promote the actual voices of your team members to further strengthen brand messaging.
Now that you’ve found your company voice and learned to include those of your team members in the chorus, it’s time to put a face on it.
The power of video
Video is some of the most effective content you can make.
From social media platforms to human consumption habits, there are a lot of incentives for video content. Video content often garners more attention on social media and increases your search engine rankings.
It allows you to introduce visual and musical elements to your brand character. No other medium provides textual, visual and audible elements in one package.
It also pairs well with written or graphic content on the same webpage provided it maintains a consistent tone and message.
Brand films: Company voice in video
There are elements of brand voice in every aspect of video.
Videographers use a company’s voice (they probably call it “style”) to influence many technical and stylistic decisions.
Brand films are specifically made to influence how the audience perceives and personifies your company. These often live on company homepages and serve as ready-made assets for other promotions.
But you can’t go into a brand film project lightly. The details matter, from interview questions to backing music.
Start with a goal and outline
It all starts with establishing a clear goal.
Who is the audience you’re trying to reach? What do you want them to take away from the video?
“Focus your outline on the goal of the video,” Gorilla 76 Videographer Nick Tacony said. “Is this to educate people, or is this to appeal to them emotionally and give them a certain feeling about working with this company? Once you understand the goals, you’ll know whether you should film the flowers or the concrete.”
“Once you understand the goals, you’ll know whether you should film the flowers or the concrete.”
When your goal is to inform, you prioritize relaying information as clearly and simply as possible, much as you would with a blog post. Brand films have the added difficulty of providing the desired perception of your company, so don’t forget to include emotional cues.
Based on your goal, decide if the information is best provided to the audience via voiceover or through a member of your team.
Successful brand films often include the voices and faces of real people your audience might meet and work with, but a little voiceover work can help add a professional touch.
Nick said it’s important for your outline to include any information you want to communicate to the viewer, technical or emotional.
“If it’s important to the idea that you’re communicating, put it in there,” Nick said. “Just remember the goal of that outline is to be a lean, easy-to-read document that gives the reader a full idea of what will be in the brand film and how it will flow.”
Nick provided this example:
Here we will emphasize how much we care about our customers. We’ll lean into the emotions that result from kindness and empathy and build a strong sense of trust for the viewer.
- High-level view of “Steps of Service” and their importance
- Hear from a service team member about how they view their responsibilities to customers
- Highlight – More than a job, it’s a calling
- Customer-first focus
- Pride in our role
- Example of service – Work example from 2007
Now you’re ready to compile a list of interview questions or draft a script for your voice talent.
Just leave room to adjust as the right path presents itself.
“It’s kind of cliche, but there’s an old film saying that applies: ‘A film is written three times, first with the script, then when you shoot it, and third when you edit it.’” Nick said.
Shoot day: Lights, camera, action
Best practices for SME interviews
Let’s get someone in front of that camera.
The SME could be a member of your team, a customer or third-party expert. Whoever it is, they need to be comfortable and authentic.
Don’t have them recite a strict script on camera. Give them a topic they know well and let them talk about it.
Nick doesn’t even let the subject see the interview questions before filming. He’s made that mistake before.
“We had some missteps leading up to that interview,” he said. “We gave the subject our questions, not knowing that he would completely over-prepare it and write his answers out.”
During the interview, the SME spent more time trying to remember the answers rather than simply talking about a subject he knew very well.
For brand films, you’re trying to capture that perfect combination of what is being said, as well as how they said it and that look in their eye that tells the audience they meant every word. You’re less likely to get that from somebody struggling to remember their lines.
But even being yourself can be difficult when the camera is pointed at you. Don’t be afraid to take a break, talk about something else for a while and then reword the question. If necessary, give the SME multiple attempts to get comfortable and offer a better answer. Remember, what you shot is what you’ve got, so be thorough during the interview process to ensure you get everything you’ll need before calling it a wrap.
Setting is a big part of first impressions. Before the audience hears the SME speak, they will notice where they’re sitting.
Find a comfortable place for your SME that represents their value to the company.
“The big thing is to try to put them in environments that are real and interesting to what they do,” Nick said.
If you’re interviewing a construction site supervisor, you’re going to have different challenges than interviewing someone who works at an office computer.
While you can control an office setting, it can be indistinct and dull. An active warehouse has plenty to look at, but good luck with lighting and audio.
Noisy environments are hard to work around, so favor a quiet environment over all else. If the interview setting is dull, you can add more action with b-roll footage of the more exciting work environment.
There’s nothing wrong with the standard three- or five-light setup, but a little mood lighting reinforces your brand, the theme of your content and/or personality of the SME.
Create a calming atmosphere with nice even lighting. For a more dramatic vibe, try high contrast and shadows.
If you want to portray your company as a comfortable and friendly place to do business, use a nice warm light. But go with cooler tones when you want to reflect precision and professionalism.
B-roll footage and audio
The best b-roll builds upon the narrative of the video. It’s all about finding action that reflects the SME, subject matter and flavor of your brand.
If you’re talking about how well your team works together, we need to see what that looks like.
Nick recommends always shooting b-roll in sequence — wide, medium, close.
Start with a wide shot that sets the scene and gives the viewer a sense of place and context.
Then move in a bit closer and give them a good look at the subject.
Finally, get in close for a detail shot of meaningful action the audience might not have noticed.
“Let’s say we want to film a person operating a drill-press,” Nick said. “I would get a wide shot of the operator and the press in the shop, ideally with them laying a piece of metal on the press. We’d see them, the machine and the shop around them. Then I’d get a medium shot of them positioning the metal on the press. I’d follow that up with a close-up of the operator’s face, to show their focus, and finally an extreme close-up of the bit carving out the metal.”
If you want a polished voice to speak over your visual elements, then go with a professional voiceover service.
Nick said a professional voiceover offers the most control. You decide what and how they say everything.
But you’ll have to be selective to remain authentic. Find a voice that fits with your company’s brand character.
“It’s a blend of tones in a voice — like warm/clinical confidence/casual, bubbly or serious — and the way the artist reads the line,” Nick said. “Your own personal tone and vocal quality will likely change between how you speak to your boss vs your spouse. A good voice actor will be able to find the distinction and deliver what you’re asking. Your job with VO talent is to communicate what you’re looking for.
Best practices for video editing
It’s important to be kind to everyone in your video in your edits without falsely portraying them. This is much like how you should portray your company throughout the video — honestly and authentically.
“A senior editor I used to work with gave me some really great advice on editing interviews,” Nick said. “He told me ‘Our job is to help them say what they’re trying to say.” Meaning you can cut up a sound bite, remove the “ums” and even whole sentences, you can change the order and take a word from later on in the interview, all that’s fine as long as you’re helping them with their actual message in the context of the video. And when you spend hours with the same interview footage, you’ll definitely understand what they’re trying to say.”
Selecting backing music
Music is often the most efficient and effective way to introduce emotion.
It only takes a few moments to set a viewer’s expectations. If someone hears hard and fast music, they’ll expect footage that is equally exciting.
That’s why not every manufacturer needs a hard rock anthem as their backing music. If you have a highly refined production process, perhaps a more sophisticated sound will serve you better.
Think about how your best customers feel about your company. What style of music fits with these feelings?
Here are some things to consider:
- What do customers value about the way you do business?
- Are there any genres associated with your industry and/or region
- Which genres would your customers relate to?
If a genre checks all these boxes, that’s probably the one to go with.
Nick went through this process to create a brand video for an industrial oven manufacturer located in Chattanooga, TN.
“We have an opportunity to emotionally impact somebody,” Nick said. “In that piece, we wanted them to feel excited like we’re getting to work. I looked for a long time and found a driving song. Then paired the song with visuals of handheld camera stuff. It’s like you’re on a shop floor on the ground, looking up at a guy who’s half a story up tack welding on top of this giant oven.”
Show your stuff
When all is said and edited, you’ll have a brand film you can be proud of and your audience will relate to.
Match the style with that of your brand voice, and your video will work well alongside written content and your team’s public interactions.
Check out our Gorilla 76 brand film if you’d like to see a solid final product at work.
And turn to the Gorilla 76 learning center for more information about making a positive impression on your audience.
But there’s something else that helps form this impression — webpage design and layout.
In our final installment of this series, we’ll cover strategies for reflecting brand voice within the structure and design of your web pages to complement the words and videos on them.