In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, the psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains the way in which we humans make decisions. Whilst we like to think of ourselves as rational beings, especially when it comes to decision-making, our decisions are made based on emotions – and then we justify them rationally.
Kahneman’s two-speed model establishes that decisions are made in the so-called system one thinking. Developed over millennia of evolution, and shared with all animals, system one allows us to make fast, automatic, emotive decisions. System two, almost exclusive to humans, is a slower, more deliberate, cognitive system that provides a rational justification to our decisions.
Given then that it’s our emotional brain that is making decisions and our rational brain that is justifying them, how does video best tread the balance between engagement and persuasion?
A brand exists in a person’s mind as a mental network – a memory structure of images, feelings, experiences stories, sounds, colours and symbols. The word ‘Nike’, for example will conjure a completely different response in your mind from those invoked by the words ‘Compare The Market’.
Brands that consistently develop and reinforce these memory structures have less work to do in the long term when it comes to achieving cut through and sustaining brand awareness. When you develop your video content, having an almost unhealthy regard for your distinctive brand assets is important.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that your video should start with a logo right at the beginning and mention your brand name every three seconds. There are different views on best practise when it comes to logo placement – and, in truth, it depends what you are trying to achieve.
But it does mean being consistent in harnessing your brand assets and firing those memory structures.
Capturing the mood and telling an emotional truth are important creative elements in ensuring the effectiveness of your video advertising. However, research has shown that it isn’t necessarily the most entertaining video that generates the best results.
Creating an emotional reaction doesn’t work in isolation – it needs to be balanced with persuasion. We can apply Brooke Castillo’s famous ‘think, feel, act’ model here. Your video needs to tap into a human emotion, needs to provide an element of rational thought and ultimately needs to elicit action.
In practise, this means finding the right balance between creating entertaining content (no matter what emotion you are tapping into) and saying enough about how your product or service fits into the story.
Grab attention early
We can make decisions within fractions of a second – so fast in fact that our rational (system two) brain may take up to 7 to 10 seconds to catch up! And we are bombarded with hundreds, even thousands of messages every day – so we naturally employ unconscious, low effort processes to filter out the unwanted and unengaging.
For your content to stand a chance of connecting, it must grab attention within the first few seconds; many experts will say that you have up to 6 second to do so. If your logo takes 5 seconds to resolve, then forget it – you’ve probably lost your chance to connect.
Posing a question, eliciting intrigue, making a promise, beginning a story are just some of the ways that your video can capture the attention of your time-poor audience.
But, just as the beginning is important, the best creativity starts with understanding exactly where it is you want to go. We can’t underemphasise the importance of a well-written brief which sets out with the end goal in mind from which the perfect beginning can be crafted.
Appeal to the senses
Whilst it’s true that, as film makers, much of our attention is focused on the images we create, failing to get the right soundtrack to your video can be the difference between ‘meh’ and great! If you’ve spent any time at all on articulating your brand proposition, you will probably have thought about its personality and tone of voice.
Finding the right voice over, soundtrack and brand sonic (think ‘We Buy Any Car Dot Com’) are important aspects to your video. It can be hard to justify the expense of commissioning a great jingle, paying the royalty fee to a good tune or commissioning the best voice over actor to nail your brand tone, but it could make or break your video.
If you want music in your video, it will help if you’ve thought about what style of music suits your brand – are you a cinematic, grand, victorious brand or an edgy, street-wise, hip-hip brand? As we develop the brief into a creative idea, we will also consider the role that music plays in your video – from a subtle background track to maintain attention or a music soundtrack that advances the story to a dramatic piece designed to evoke emotion or an earworm that will stay in your viewer’s mind long after the video has finished.
Audience tailored video
Compared with big-budget TV advertising, one of the main attractions of video is that it’s much easier on the pocket. It’s true that you can still spend big money on creating video content, but often the audience isn’t expecting cinema-quality output. This means that you may well have the budget to create several pieces of content, tailored specifically to your target audiences and the platforms on which they are viewing.
When planned into the production process, we can usually create different versions of your video for very little additional cost. Whether it’s a slight variation to the script, a different voice over artist, various video lengths from the same content or alternative graphics and animations, your video will resonate with the audience the more tailored it is.
Ultimately, video has huge power to connect your brand with your target audience. In the words of Dan Patterson, Digital Platform Manager for ABC News Radio “Humans are inherently social and inherently curious beings. Humans are also incredibly visual, and powerful, moving images help us find meaning and understand the world around us. What makes a video worth sharing? When it provides context.”