CMA Video’s creative director, Mitch Remes, compares the planning and production of a corporate video to that of a pop song in our latest blog. He finds that there are more than a few similarities and its a great way to look at the value and positioning of a corporate video in an overall marketing strategy.
A pop song and indeed most of Western music, is formulaic in its construct. Start with a catchy intro that shouldn’t last long but promises great things to come, a verse that establishes a storyline, and finally, the key ingredient is the chorus or the bit you go away humming. The chorus is king, it’s memorable, it sums up the whole track; it has a sense of anticipation and we know that it will appear again later. The second verse develops the storyline, often adding an extra musical element, a new guitar hook a brass or string figure, and then it leads back to the chorus. The middle 8 is a break giving a new key or a new message before we go back to familiar territory. One last verse and a repeated chorus for the outro just in case you haven’t already got the message into your head.
So can you compare the perfect pop song to the perfect corporate video? I think that there are interesting parallels plus, like the pop song, three minutes is usually touted as being the perfect length. I would argue that the chorus is your overarching business message and each verse is a unique message supporting it. The middle 8 is a break from the formula and is your customer testimonial. The trick is not to have too many verses and to keep the chorus simple, otherwise the listener will get bored and probably switch channels.
The Radio Edit, Extended Dance Mix And The Jingle
People have shorter attention spans these days, there are also more channels competing for attention so it’s important to remix your content for purpose. I used to argue that the perfect promo, the one that sits on your landing page or You Tube channel, shouldn’t last longer than 3 minutes. The statistics are interesting, according to research by Visible Measures 20% will click away within 10 seconds, 33% by 30 seconds, 45% in a minute and 60% within 2 minutes. Hold on to these facts, they are a measure of how the internet has changed attention spans. It gets worse, we’ve all seen the 4-6 second video adverts in front of You Tube videos, how often do you watch them all the way through and how often do you click “skip advert”?
To stretch the music analogy further you need different mixes for different audiences, the extended dance mix has a captive audience in a nightclub. In other words, a 6 minute corporate video is no good on your home page but might be perfect for presentations or looping in your reception or waiting area. A six second Vine video on Twitter or social media snippet is like a jingle.
So What’s The Corporate Video Formula?
The intro – Open with your logo, preferably animated leading to a short montage of clips to uplifting music. This is designed to captivate and encourage people to keep watching; there’s something interesting going on here and I want to keep watching. This should be no longer than 10 – 20 seconds.
Verse 1 – You need to set up your storyline quickly, maybe the CEO explaining what is going on in the video or a thought provoking statement. Seeing an actual person humanises your company and most people will spend a few seconds checking out another human being anyway. The analogy breaks down a bit here as the ideal pop song has 3 verses (key messages), most corporate videos have up to 5. Most people make the mistake of trying to say everything about their company in a video which confuses the viewer. Remember this is a promo, we want people to stay on your web site and discover more about you; this is a pop song not the album.
The chorus – This is your overarching theme and it’s what you want your potential customer to go away humming. Most pop songs are about love and your corporate video should have one overarching theme too, the quality of your services maybe? The verse sets us up by explaining a facet of your business, for example ‘we make the best widget in the market’. Your production manager can start by saying this but we quickly move away to see a high tech factory floor, quality products being crafted, happy production staff and clients admiring the product, a sweeping shot to show the scale of your operations. The chorus is the reinforcement of the opening statement, come back to the production manager who has now proved his point and can close with a poignant sound bite. People may remember the 5 verses but they are most likely to remember the overall feel they got from watching the video. If your key message is price, everything leads to that, if it is quality, then the same. The chorus is your USP and most companies don’t have 5 USPs.
The Middle 8 – A well placed testimonial from a client who is singing your praises is invaluable. The testimonial gives a fresh and unbiased perspective.
The Outro – a couple more verses and we’re ready for the outro and in the popular song this is usually a repeat of the chorus until we fade out. It leaves us with the hook, that central theme that we can’t get out of our head and pulls everything together. Ideally it should be a closing statement from the person who opened the video then a musical montage of clips. Music is the perfect bedfellow to video, it brings its own associations with it. During filming I usually ask each interviewee to give me a one word answer that sums up the company or their experience in it, these often work well back to back as part of an outro. The outro is really a reflection of the intro but in reverse, we leave with a good feeling, some uplifting music then end with your logo and a call to action.
These days of multi channel marketing mean that the basic corporate video alone doesn’t cut it any more, its much better to have a whole body of work out there. Your budget might be best spent looking at creating a multi video strategy across various channels each fit for purpose. Film all the content in one go and trickle feed edits as and when needed. All these videos are like little fishing hooks pulling people towards your company and they’re all working 24/7. There are uses for a corporate video that you maybe haven’t thought of yet – training, explainer videos, ‘how to’ videos, it could be a pre-cursor to a sales meeting which sets up the background so your sales people spend less time explaining what your company is all about, send the a link to the video in an email (or embed it). The notion of content marketing being the way forward these days is absolutely true and the more that you can generate, the better.
Don’t Be Too Cool For School
Fashion comes and fashion goes and probably only about 5% of the population are at the cutting edge. Some people grew beards and were probably laughed at, now everyone has one. Like music, video styles are constantly changing. Video equipment has become cheaper and more people are experimenting, plus the use of stills cameras to record video has altered the playing field, they are cheaper, lighter and actually look better than the big camcorders we are all used to seeing. These cameras have special lenses which are good at altering the focus of the subject and there is a current trend to play with focus and blur shots out, it looks like poor camera work but it’s in fashion, you’ll see it everywhere at the moment. As cameras have become lighter there is a tendency towards handheld rather than using a tripod which basically makes some shots look shaky. This is great because it makes you feel like you’re part of the action but it can soon become tiring. Instagram has altered people’s perception of photography and this has seeped into popular culture, you will see some shots artificially coloured or really bleached out rather than normal contrast ranges.
We have to keep an eye out for these trends and love experimenting with them but unfortunately a lot of people just don’t get it. Think about your audience, how sophisticated are they, will they get it? Look at the competition and see what is happening generally in the media, there are evangelists like Google, Apple, Windows and Facebook; have a look at what they’re doing with their corporate video strategy because we will all be doing it eventually.