By Ron Marcus, Marketing Cheerleader
In this post, we’re going to see what a gripping, dramatic movie can teach us about creating awesome corporate branding videos.
Last night, I saw the movie “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about her 1,700 kilometer hike along the Pacific Coast Trail. For two full hours, I was engrossed in her story. After she suffered intense personal tragedy and subsequently made some very bad life choices, Strayed decided to work through her grief and move on by taking this journey – a passage from a life of despair and self-destruction to one of hope and renewal.
To get a sense of the drama, here is the movie trailer. And unlike a lot of movie trailers, this one does not rely on showing you all the best parts of the movie to draw you in. The best is yet to come when you actually see the movie.
There is no cast of thousands. No elaborate sets. No CGI (computer generated imagery). The movie relies primarily on the strength of Reese Witherspoon’s acting, some breathtaking scenery, and, most critically, a great story.
What makes a great story?
A great story is one that resonates with you, the viewer or reader. Quite simply, it depicts a scenario that is relatable – that is, it features a character who could be us, facing extraordinary circumstances. We can see ourselves in the story. It’s personal.
The story is also told in a way that creates suspense – we don’t know how the story will end (just like real life), and we really want to find out how it ends. Such a story makes good use of the unexpected and the extraordinary to draw us in, keep us hooked, and leave a lasting impact on us.
Great stories tap into the primal, human emotions and feelings we all share – love, joy, anger, hate, sadness, fear, despair, inspiration, anticipation, laughter, hope and ecstasy.
That’s why “Wild” works. In telling her own story, Cheryl Strayed has tapped into situations and emotions we can all relate to – either through our own past experience or with natural empathy. In the author’s own words:
What has this got to do with corporate branding videos?
Here’s a recent video produced by UPS, called “Driver for a Day." It tells a story – a great story. See for yourself:
This video doesn’t once mention UPS services. It doesn’t “sell” UPS to you. It simply tells the heart-warming story of four-year-old Carson, who is fascinated with UPS and has developed a relationship with the driver who delivers to his neighborhood. Any of us with kids of our own, or who remember when we were kids ourselves, can’t help but be impacted by this story.
I’ve shared this video on my own Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and now I’m sharing it with you in this blog post. And I’m not the only one. This video has gotten more than three million views since December 2014. UPS has scored a hit here.
Features, benefits, prices, locations, reasons why the company is better than the competition – none of these things are in this video. If they were, this would be a commercial, and we all know how we feel about commercials.
Instead, UPS wisely chose to share a great story. And, they didn’t have to make it up. Carson is a real boy who really loves UPS. The story tells itself – and UPS is a genuine part of this true-to-life story.
What UPS is really saying here is that they are an integral part of our lives. UPS doesn't deliver packages. UPS deliver happiness. Whether we are the sender, experiencing the satisfaction of providing something to someone else over a distance in a timely fashion, or the receiver, getting that highly anticipated delivery, or simply a four-year-old boy who dreams of delivering happiness himself someday, UPS is there for us.
What does this mean for us marketers?
Neither “Wild” nor the UPS video rely on big budgets, elaborate sets or special effects. In other words, you don’t need a big budget to tell a great story. All you need is a great story.
We all understand the power of video to get our brand message out to people. Yet, so many corporate videos are completely unsuccessful at doing this, because there’s no story in them. The just spit out features, benefits and competitive advantages. These might be important to the advertiser, but, what’s in it for the rest of us?
Here’s your chance to be different. Think like a novelist, or a filmmaker. Tap into the emotions of your customers and prospects. How does your company impact their lives on a human level? What pains are you solving, and what desires are you fulfilling? What are some true-life examples of how your company’s products and services have helped, or could help, customers? How can you brighten their days and make them happier?
That’s where you’ll find your great stories – the kind that practically tell themselves – and make for videos that people not only want to watch, but will be shared and remembered because of the emotional impact it made on the viewers.
Go ahead. Go wild with your next video.
Thanks for joining us on the brander’s journey. See you in the next post.