Working with filmmakers can be a great way for your brand to create interesting, emotional content that builds your brand’s audience. Film is a wonderful approach to creating an emotional connection with that audience—but only if it’s done the right way.
One of the first steps is cultivating a good relationship with filmmakers that allows flexibility and freedom to create around your brand’s chosen theme. Make the relationship mutually beneficial.
What kind of emotions are you trying to create, and what unique story are you trying to tell? If you have something that distinguishes your brand from your competition, work with your filmmaker to emphasize that characteristic.
Remember, also, that film is a medium that requires careful planning. Ask yourself these important questions before working with filmmakers.
What Do Filmmakers Want From My Brand?
The most likely answer you will receive to this question is, “Be as specific as possible.” No good filmmaker goes into production without a clear understanding of the story they’re trying to tell. Every detail is thought through with excruciating detail. Great films, big or small, are built on great planning.
Yet, it seems like most brands approach video and film with a blasé attitude that can leave their filmmaker partners wanting. Marketers are good at throwing out all sorts of general ideas, but they often avoid getting specific. Filmmakers crave specificity in terms of the goal you are trying to achieve.
Do not confuse specificity with dominating the creative decisions. Some of the best content evolves organically from a creative interpretation of a specific theme. You must allow the filmmakers to put their spin on the theme.
What is a filmmaker’s goal? Now ask yourself, how can you align your brand’s marketing goals with a filmmaker’s goals?
It isn’t as hard as it sounds. At its core, filmmaking is about telling a story. People resonate with good stories because they evoke powerful emotions. Chances are, some of the most impactful art you’ve ever seen is in film form.
What Emotions Do I Want to Create With My Brand Film?
Think about what your brand is trying to do. Your ultimate goal is to sell more of your products or services, but in order to sell, you must tell stories that create a positive emotional association with your product.
Think of a brand like Coca-Cola. Their “name on a bottle” campaign was designed to inspire positive emotions around the brand. Their entire marketing campaign is focused on one core tenet: connection.
Emotional advertising is scientifically proven to sway potential buyers. Ninety-two percent of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story. Getting a consumer to buy into something much greater than the ad itself sounds a lot like what filmmakers try to do with their messages.
Huawei Mobile created a brand film that focused on “seeing humanity in technology” by sharing stories of people around the world using their phones. Huawei also created another film called “Dream It Possible” which told the story of a girl who pushed through life’s obstacles to live her dream of becoming a pianist.
The common theme between these films is that they’re focused on emotion, not the product itself. If there’s one hard and fast rule for brands working with filmmakers, it is that there should be more emphasis on providing value to the audience than on hard selling.
Not every film has to be a poignant, emotional heart-stopper that avoids selling, though! Wal-Mart recently released a short film advertising their grocery pickup with a creative idea: famous cars from movies and TV taking advantage of their free pickup. (Take a look at the video here!)
The concept is silly but effective. It works off the emotion of nostalgia, and it is quite entertaining and relevant as a result.
What Distinguishes My Brand From Others?
There are many strategies to distinguish your brand from its competition. To create an effective film, you’ll need an intimate understanding of that distinction. If you have a strong reason why you are different, then you will get a strong film.
Sometimes thinking of distinguishing characteristics in a crowded marketplace can be difficult. If you’re struggling, look at reviews you can highlight and turn into emotional testimonials.
Research shows that reviews from real people are 12 times more trusted than a brand’s own messaging. In light of this, Airbnb created a marketing campaign in 2014 that focused on personal stories of people like Carol who opened up their homes to travelers. This “review” of Airbnb sells a type of lifestyle and puts a face to the company.
Do I Have Something to Say?
If you don’t have something special to say, then don’t “force” a video or campaign. People can always spot a “try-hard.” Campaigns that have something meaningful or interesting to say, within context, will realize their full potential.
A perfect example of this approach is when Dicks Sporting Goods Foundation partnered with Judd Ehrlich to film “We Could Be King,” a film about two rival schools merging their football teams due to budget cuts. Judd described how working with a brand can help get a film made, and that sincerity and trust were key to building that relationship with the brand.
Dick’s strove to create a film about real people, and audiences connected with it because it was more than just selling a product. It was about selling an idea.
Authenticity is a huge selling point to consumers now, especially among the millennial generation. But how can a brand design a theme for a filmmaker that feels authentic? Build a story that revolves around your brand’s mission, point of view, and values it shares with your audience such as:
Genuine storytelling moves audiences, not marketing pieces crafted to feel like documentaries. Two aspects critical for any brand documentary include:
- Story landscape: A brand needs credibility and expertise to tell a great story, such as likening a story about fine craftsmanship to your brand’s commitment to craftsmanship.
- Story hero: This is a person striving towards a relatable goal or purpose. They pursue despite or because of the stakes involved. In order to be effective, the person’s journey needs to intersect with the brand’s mission.
Do this homework before approaching a filmmaker. Good stories are born from real emotions and motivations, so if you don’t have the intention of telling a good story, that inauthenticity will show through. Make sure your idea is something worth telling a story about and that your story is different than what people might expect from your brand.
Filmmakers are interested in telling unique stories that connect with their audience. You should be too!