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It’s time to start rethinking your corporate video strategy – your reputation depends on it

Michael Garwood 1 December 2017

“If you’re not using video already, you’re not taking advantage of one of the biggest and most effective communications tools which we have”
The term ‘corporate video’ summons images of people in dark suits behaving in a dry, static, rather dull manner in front of a camera, much like Hale and Pace’s, The Management, but without the laughs. But what is it really, and how can it be used?

The area of corporate video can be defined as audio-visual communication materials designed for both internal and external corporate messaging. It is often used to sell a product, deliver a message or for training purposes.

A great corporate film can instantly give off the impression that the company is prestigious, has high standards and is forward thinking; a bad film can do exactly the opposite

Jonathan English, managing director at Skeleton, a video content agency helping businesses and brands with their marketing, says: “A lot of people have a preconception that corporate video is boring and dry, but there’s no reason (or excuse!) to create dull video content. You need to capture the attention of your audience and get across your message in an engaging way.”

What’s the point?

John Ford, head of film at Contra, a London-based video production company with extensive corporate video experience, comments on the point of corporate video: “The video communications of a company are a direct representation of the company itself. A great corporate film can instantly give off the impression that the company is prestigious, has high standards and is forward thinking; a bad film can do exactly the opposite. It’s important for companies to think seriously about their video communications and their importance.”

Meanwhile, Reece Lipman, a filmmaker at Chocolate Films, a London-based provider of documentaries, factual programming, event filming, advertising and more, says: “We’re all aware of how important video is to our lives. The vast majority of people have smartphones and tablets with us at all times on which we are constantly streaming video in different guises. This could be on dedicated video sites like YouTube, on social media such as Facebook and Twitter or even on different companies’ websites. This is because video is such an effective and easy communication tool.

If you’re not using video already, you’re not taking advantage of one of the biggest and most effective communications tools which we have

“Your customers, stakeholders, potential clients and employees are all a potential audience, so you already use every tool at your disposal to communicate with them,” continues Lipman. “If you’re not using video already, you’re not taking advantage of one of the biggest and most effective communications tools which we have.”

How can it be used?

Corporate film can be used in many ways, to transmit any message a company requires, according to Ford. “From one film to another, creative agencies like us are looking at what stylistic approach would be the best way to deliver these messages. It could be something that’s presenter-led, it could involve animation, demos and case studies.”

Jonathan Staples, managing director at J motion Video Productions, a corporate and promotional video production company based in Northamptonshire, says case studies are a growing trend: “Apart from the obvious company or product introductions, the biggest growth area we’ve seen in the last couple of years has been in customer case studies. It’s far more powerful to see the impact of a product or service in action, and a customer enthusing with conviction and credibility, than to try to sell yourself. It’s all about the story; people engage with stories more than features and benefits. Same goes for corporate recruitment. We’ve seen huge growth in the use of video to attract job applicants; using the personal testimony of existing staff to convey a company’s culture and attract the right kind of talent.”

A video can be the perfect way to show off your exciting new development and get customers engaged wherever they are

Lipman states customers’ tastes in corporate video are changing: “In the past clients have asked us to produce more traditional videos, involving talking heads or a presenter relaying a message much in the same way you would to an audience at a conference. However, in recent times businesses are becoming more ambitious with their videos. Using motion graphics for ‘infographics’ videos can be a great way to produce shareable content that promotes your business and conveys information in a fun and modern way. Thought leadership videos, where a company discusses wider issues in their sector, can show you as the experts and encourage potential clients to come to you with their queries. Or perhaps you have a new product to demonstrate? A video can be the perfect way to show off your exciting new development and get customers engaged wherever they are.”

Beat written words?

Video beats the written word hands-down, comments Lipman. “We all know that showing someone something has more of an effect than simply telling them. Video allows you to show everything in a completely believable and exciting way. How many times have you received a two sided marketing document and stopped reading by the second paragraph? We’ve all done it and yet so many people still rely on that as their main form of communication. I would be much more inclined to watch a two minute video giving me the basic information that piques my interest.”

Video has the power to reflect emotion – how people think and feel about a product, a service, their career or the situation they’re in – like no other medium

Meanwhile, English comments: “There’s a much-repeated statistic that says we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. While it’s dubious how correct that stat is, we certainly do interpret images in less than 1/10th of a second. When you combine visuals with sound, you get the most captivating, compelling and persuasive form of communication known to mankind.”

Staples states video is able to connect the viewer to a message emotionally: “For me, corporate video is at its best is when it harnesses the ‘touchy-feely’ human quality that only video can convey. Video has the power to reflect emotion – how people think and feel about a product, a service, their career or the situation they’re in – like no other medium. The most powerful (and memorable) adverts tend to be based on a story and I think corporate video is no different. Pack your corporate video with too many dry facts and figures and your audience will soon click away. Give a personal insight and your audience will empathise and feel connected.”

Copy is something that is a lot more daunting to modern audiences, particularly when so many people spend most of their days trawling through endless emails and other written documents

Video has the power to engage audiences on a multi-sensory level. Ford notes: “It’s attention-grabbing and it takes very little effort to stay engaged in a film that’s well-made. A film can evoke a feeling and therefore a response. Since corporate video may be used for training videos for example, you are able to demonstrate often hard hitting messages that would be more effective in a video than through a corporate written bulletin.

“Copy is something that is a lot more daunting to modern audiences, particularly when so many people spend most of their days trawling through endless emails and other written documents. Corporate video is an opportunity to allow audiences to escape that,” continues Ford.

As to whether there is any proof that corporate video is more effective than ‘traditional’ methods of conveying messages, English comments: “The ROI of your videos needs to be measured carefully and can vary wildly depending on how smart and thoughtful you are with your strategy. As with any kind of content, you’re not going to get the results you want unless you invest time and effort into doing it right.

“I think the most powerful proof comes from the sheer number of respected companies that are jumping on the video bandwagon with style in every industry and every market across the world. Learn from the best; they simply wouldn’t be investing the amount they are in video if it didn’t work,” English says.

To stand out from the crowd you need to create videos of a higher quality than in the past

Should you choose it?

English continues: “In almost every area of our lives nowadays video has become pervasive. Social media is awash with it. We can take entire online courses through video. And the sales process for many larger or B2B products, which usually consisted of a face to face meeting or a phone call, is now just as likely to involve a video call with a salesperson.

“This all means two things: firstly there is more competition and your audience has higher standards, so to stand out from the crowd you need to create videos of a higher quality than in the past. And secondly, you have way more possibilities when it comes to using video to achieve your goals,” continues English. “It’s up to you to think creatively and differently about video and use it in exactly the right way for your business, rather than just copying everything that’s been done before.”

Says Staples: “Since J motion began in 2002, the video production industry has had two seismic shocks; the take up of broadband and high speed mobile reception has created a massive appetite for video, while new technology has enabled companies like ours to genuinely match the broadcast quality production values of television in a much more affordable package. This has brought us clients who less than a decade ago would never have considered video because they couldn’t afford a TV ad campaign or it simply wouldn’t have reached their niche audience effectively. From HD to 4K to breathtaking drone footage, corporate video has become a cost effective communications tool.”

No longer are videos of people sat in boardrooms talking the only way to get across messages

Corporate video is something that is constantly evolving, comments Ford. He says methods of production are improving at such a rate that production companies are able to make corporate video with the same equipment that is used to shoot films commonly seen in Hollywood cinema. “That all said, so many companies and organisations are making corporate films now, there is a growing need to feel distinctive and keep up with the increasingly high standards of the industry,” he adds.

Video is constantly changing and moving, agrees Lipman, who states that equipment is becoming more nimble and more readily available, so the production value of corporate videos is increasing exponentially. “No longer are videos of people sat in boardrooms talking the only way to get across messages. We’ve made corporate videos featuring specifically designed motion graphics which convey information even if you don’t have the sound on. We’ve produced epic trailers for upcoming events and conferences to promote ticket sales in new markets. We’ve made cinematic looking product adverts to announce a new and exciting development. And we’ve done it all for every budget range; from SMEs with limited resources to huge multi-national corporations. Because of that development in production equipment it means that you are no longer limited by your budget.”

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