Why Companies Are Making Brand Films
Companies like DoorDash, 3M, and HP are making films. Beyond commercials or product placement, and besides the odd spectacle like the “Lego Movie,” companies have largely stayed away from movies. However, that separation is a thing of the past.
On top of loads of creative inspiration in this piece, it’ll also cover:
What Is A Brand Film?
Brand films are short films that promote a message and a brand through narrative. While commercials and ads have always used storytelling methods, brand films take audiovisual production to a new level. They’re giving brands a way to communicate a deeper story in long form content—a format that proves more and more challenging with consumers’ attention spans shrinking year over year.
The length of brand films ranges from a few minutes, to 30 minutes, or even longer! Some are a one-shot audiovisual production, while others form a series. Regardless of the format or streaming device, brand films are the future of content marketing.
Why Would You Make A Brand Film?
We know that adding video content to landing pages, emails, or embedded on other platforms boosts conversion rates. Currently, 87% of marketers utilize video for digital strategies, and video ads account for 35% of online spending. Unsurprisingly, 54% of consumers prefer video marketing, and 73% want entertaining videos.
Millennials are one target audience that is driving the importance of brand films. Research shows 80% of millennials pay attention to video content when considering a brand, and the brand films of 2019 caught millennials attention, to say the least!
And brand films are more than extended commercials. They have higher expectations, placing as much emphasis on art and innovation as displaying a product. The increased production costs come with improved sales and brand recognition and make the brand film very worthwhile.
On top of their effectiveness, brand films offer an alternative to television commercials and online video ads. The rise of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime means viewers are seeing video ads and commercials significantly less than they used to. Brand films are sneaking into their sights through social sharing and as newsworthy topics when done just right!
What Makes A Good Brand Film?
Storytelling is the single best tool for making a good brand film. Simple, right? Well, if you’re not a blockbuster director, the project might feel more complex than it is.
What great auteur-directed commercials have in common is a strength of vision. A successful audiovisual production is more than car chases, massive explosions, and cutting-edge computer graphics.
A straightforward narrative with clear visual or audio elements results in effective communication. For your target audience to understand the brand message, the brand films must, above all, communicate. Sending a message that communicates shared values with the audience is how and why brand films work as a marketing strategy in 2022.
The NBA created a brand film during the COVID-19 pandemic when the league saw their venues shut down overnight. They produced, “The Day Sports Stood Still,” to capture the moment in time when the shutdown occurred and when COVID-19 became only one of the reasons the NBA stood still.
It documented the impact the shutdown had on the players and franchise owners as humans, not as employees, businesses or corporations, etc. The brand film delivered a cinematic production that tied a string between the hearts of the viewers and the players on camera based on shared experiences and values.
DoorDash made a documentary-style film that celebrates food and what it means to communities. Focused on New York City, DoorDash features restaurants and their stories to encourage New Yorkers to go dine in now that COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and restaurants have reopened. Hit play on the video below and watch how a brand film does its magic. (Tell us in the comments if you were able to hit pause even once—we couldn’t!)
Brand Films on a Budget
Filmmaking might seem priced for larger companies, but there are plenty of options for a budget-friendly brand film. Even small businesses can stimulate significant returns on investments with strategic video marketing.
The first step to making a budget-friendly brand film—that’s also effective—is to employ experts.
While Apple’s “1984” commercial had Ridley Scott and Prada’s “Castello Cavalcante” had Wes Anderson, professionals can offer invaluable know-how without being a household name.
The insight can even come to you for free, all you have to do is search for it. The Internet is packed with insights on how to storyboard a film, how to produce a short film, etc. Once you do a bit of research on those topics, you can approach conversations with experts from an informed place.
One of our favourite ways to approach and learn from experts is by using HARO—an online pitching platform more formally used by journalists seeking sources for their publications.
We use it by submitting a query for a topic about which we need real-world expertise. We then utilize that valuable feedback to compile an article, video, or other resource that can be shared with others who may be struggling to understand or find what they need, just like we were.
If you use HARO to connect with producers on how to make short films on a budget, make sure you create a piece of content containing your learnings, credit your sources, and let them know when the content is live so they can share it with their audiences, too!
It may turn out that hiring a videography firm to produce the video is cheaper than trying to do it yourself. Businesses specializing in film come with many benefits including understanding the needs of a successful marketing film and can help you study your target audience for the best fit.
Or, you may learn that it’s more budget friendly to try your hand at video production with the helpful advice from experts online. In that case, assembling an agile team of voice actors, writers, graphics specialists, and a few experienced production crew members will ensure the best results. With the right creative team, there’s no limit to what brand films can do.
How to Distribute a Brand Film
The old model of commercial breaks doesn’t work for brand films, so where can your audience watch your video? Unlike commercials or ads that have to be as short as possible, brand films need air time to convey the message effectively.
Distributing brand films means selecting viewing venues that can reach your target audience so they won’t click away or skip ahead.
One option is for ad placement on online streaming or social media platforms. With this option, the film needs to capture an audience within a few seconds. Consumers need to be intrigued immediately, like the first page of a novel. Then, when the option to skip after five (or more) seconds pops up, the watchers let the video keep rolling.
An alternative is to create a link within the video that encourages watchers to follow the video to another screen. The first option has a more substantial retention rate as the watcher doesn’t need to act or move. The second advertisement option might please a few viewers that needed to watch the video they initially searched for but can get to watching the full film later.
In order to use multiple distribution avenues, consider producing 2 or 3 trailers for your brand film. That way, no matter if you choose to employ Google Display ad placements, social media stories or reels, or Youtube Ads, you’ll have a video format suited for the platform of choice.
3M’s brand film series “Not The Science Type” did exactly this when they created a minute and a half long intro to their series that works as a very compelling trailer:
Entering compelling narrative-driven brand films into contests or short film awards can extend the reach of your marketing, too. However, entry into a competition will depend on the message and scope of your brand film. You may also consider trying to gain some PR momentum out of your brand film. If it’s communicating a valuable message, chances are that someone wants to make a story out of it!
Some brand films are best suited for the company website. Most site visitors will engage more with video content, whether set up on a landing page or a video series integrated throughout several pages. Polls show that 89% of marketers find that videos, including brand films, increase website traffic. Additionally, 80% said video increased sales. If you don’t want to take our word for it, consider setting up a simple A/B test in Google Optimize of your webpage with and without the video to see which page performs better!
Are You Ready to Make a Brand Film?
Production teams can scale brand films to the size of your business. Do some digging to discover the creative agencies and production houses who produce brand films that make a practical consumer impact on an appropriate budget. If you need some extra input or an extra pair of hands in the production process, create a Voices Account to connect with freelancers who specialize in audio visual production, voice over and audio design, and more!