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July 26, 2011

8 Brand Video Story Development Concepts

The Web has spawned many great opportunities for people in general and businesses in particular. One of the byproducts of ubiquitous access and use is the ability of anyone with a Web-ready device and Internet connection to participate. Pardon me for being cynical, but maybe not everyone is capable of participating in a meaningful manner. What I’m saying is the Web has created a whole new venue for amateurism that has both positive and negative consequences.

The High Cost of Amateurism

On the positive side many creative and intelligent people are now able to present their talents and knowledge to a global audience whereas ‘Before The Web Era’ they had to settle for friends and family or at best a local audience. On the downside, just because everyone can do something doesn’t mean they should. I am not even talking about the silly, uninformed comments that appear everywhere, or even the dumb-and-dumber user-generated videos that highlight adolescent stunts and salacious exhibitionism. What I am talking about is how so many legitimate businesses opt for amateur video presentations without the slightest understanding of the damage they are doing to their

To my mind, your image and message are far too important to leave up to amateurs who don’t understand how to develop and present a marketing message using the Web video medium, a medium that differs from television advertising and corporate presentations as much as it differs from print. For those who think that professional Web video is too expensive, I would advise the real cost of DIY and amateurism is lost sales and reputation.

It’s About Concept and Performance

The truth is you can get away with a lot of technical stuff on the Web but you can never get away with inferior messaging both in concept and performance. The true essence of Web video professionalism is how your business message is turned into a compelling brand story, a mission that should not be taken lightly. I have said it many times, but Web Video is an exercise in psychological persuasion not a display of technical wizardry. If you don’t understand how to convert your message into a meaningful brand story, it is best you find someone who does.

8 Brand Video Story Development Concepts

1. Story Form

Business people trained in number-centric management practices often reject, or at least bridle at the notion of storytelling as a legitimate business function, but unless you have a good story to tell no one is going to listen to what you have to say.

Within the movie business it is often said that there are only seven movies: these are the prototypical plots that can be presented in some compelling fashion over two hours. The difference between an award winning movie and a flop is how that story is told, a function of script and performance. Your marketing video must contain the same kind of conceptual reference in order to deliver the message quickly and effectively.

2. Transformation

There are many ways to present your story but every story needs a hero or heroine. He or she is your brand representative who is transformed from one condition or state-of-mind to another. This is the symbolic transformation that your audience vicariously goes through as they watch, a transformation that changes their attitudes, perceptions, and prejudices. It is the process of psychologically moving your viewer from prospect to client. It is the process of conversion.

3. Obstacles

No transformation is complete without overcoming some obstacle in the same way no sale is closed without overcoming some objection. The bigger the obstacle, the more powerful the message becomes.

Everyone instinctively understands their product or service must solve a problem, but the problem-solving nature of your solution may not be as apparent as first thought, and a poorly constructed video can actually negate what your trying to accomplish.

4. The Setup

Without a setup your message will fail to make an impact. This is one of the hardest things to get people to recognize. Like any memorable anecdote or magic trick, you cannot skip the setup; without a setup, a punch line (your tag line) will have no meaning.

5. Consistent Signature Patterns

Human beings learn through pattern recognition. If the audience can’t recognize the pattern, you don’t have a brand. Successful brand development uses consistent language, attitude, and point-of-view, supported by consistent image, color, and style, presented within a consistent contextual framework.

6. Campaigns

One-off presentations don’t result in long-term clients any more than a one-night stand results in a long-term relationship. You must continually support and enhance your identity and image with supportive content and material.

7. Emotional Value Proposition

There are only a handful of hardwired psychological needs that drive human motivation and therefore consumption. The universality of these desires is what makes us tick, it’s what makes us make the decisions we make, and to ultimately buy what we buy. It’s the Emotional Value Proposition you offer your audience that makes them a client. A reliance on fads and features might lead to short-term sales, but they’ll rarely lead to long-term customers.

8. Performance

Everyone has a friend who loves to tell jokes but can never quite get it right; either they screw-up the punch line or they butcher the timing, and the story falls flat. Your brand story videos are no different. Unless they are delivered with skill and professionalism they will fail and maybe even do more harm than good. It’s not just a question of hiring someone who can actually spit the words out without getting tongue-tied; it’s about knowing how to use performance techniques within the Web video medium to deliver a memorable marketing message. It’s about performance.

Final Thoughts

Everyone likes to save money, especially when the economy is not the best, but saving money at the cost of your company’s reputation and identity can be a costly mistake. Technology has provided the business executive and company owner with all kinds of benefits, but it would be a mistake to think technology solves psychological concerns; and sales and marketing are most definitely psychological issues.

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design and marketing firm that specializes in Web-video Marketing Campaigns and Video Websites. Visit,, and Contact at or telephone (905) 764-1246.

3 Responses to “8 Brand Video Story Development Concepts

    avatar Brian says:

    There is so much truth in this article it is very difficult to contest it.

    But there is one point about amateurism that I believe is missing, this relates to viral videos. I know viral videos are flukes; for the most part someone did something that everyone in the world was amazed, amused or somehow captivated by and away it went. It didn’t really matter how the video was constructed or how amateur it was, in fact some of the most viral have in fact been the most amateur of all. There appears to be no rhyme or reason behind it, they just have mass appeal.

    There is also the old adage that ‘no publicity is bad publicity’, I am not sure I subscribe to that particular viewpoint and if I am honest, chasing the magic viral ingredient could be disastrous.

    So yes play safe, follow the guidelines, but I bet a professionally assembled video for a regular company (Lady Gaga aside) will never ever go viral.

    Jerry, great article, and very relevant. It is amazing to me the number of businesses that will spend so much time, effort, and money on developing a product, and yet fail to put the same kind of energy and resources into their videos. Your article is spot on and was a great read.

    avatar Wayne Clark says:

    Minutes ago, I just posted a response to a young filmmaker on one of the LinkedIn film groups who was showing off his video for a brake repair company and wanted praise for his work. He made what I call one of the biggest “sins” for a commercial video. He had the client be the spokesperson The delivery was bland, stuttering, and ran on for two minutes with no relative content. If you are going to produce a professional video for your company or product you should hire professionals. Keep it short, fast and have a “call to action”. I have done two of these videos in the past couple of years where the client insists on delivering the message and they are terrible. I keep them and show them to potential clients, which easily convinces them to get professional talent.

    Your always going to get an argument from people when their ego or pocketbook gets in the way of a professional presentation. I just avoid them, as producer, I cannot afford to produce a bad product and a unhappy client.

    Good article!

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