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30 June 2015 Video production tips and best practices

Improve Your Brand Films: Engage Your Audience with Video Storytelling

Video storytelling is an effective way to engage your audience, humanise your brand, and improve your brand films to achieve your business goals.

It can be difficult, as a business or a brand, to humanise yourself. Sure, you know that you're not a faceless corporation. You're a group of people all working towards a common goal - but how can you show your audience that? 

An old man smiling in Bell's 'The Reader' TV advert The truth is, we all want to engage with people we like. And we all want to buy from brands we like.

So the first step towards gaining customers is connecting with your target audience, engaging them emotionally, and reminding them that you're human too.

Video storytelling is one of the most effective ways of engaging your audience, thanks to the way our brains respond to the medium. Here's a superb example: a heartwarming brand film from Scotch whisky maker Bell's, shown on television in South Africa where the brand is hugely popular.

Keep reading and we'll analyse just why this video is successful, and how you too can create video content that will tap into the emotions of your target audience to help you achieve your business goals.



How to Use Video Storytelling to Captivate Your Target Audience

1. Tell a Story

This one's pretty self-explanatory. To take advantage of the power of video storytelling, you need a good story to tell, which is exactly what Bell's video does so well.

It's tempting to make a video all about your business, product or service when your goal is to advertise yourself and increase sales. You can definitely talk about yourself. But any video aiming to raise awareness without some sort of story will be dry - it certainly won't be memorable or engaging enough to make your brand stick in the minds of viewers.

Whether you're B2C or B2B, everybody is human, and everybody loves a powerful story.

(By the way, your story doesn't have to be complex. The simpler is generally the better. It could be as simple as: I started a company because I think you're paying too much for fancy shmancy shaving blades.)

Bell's understood this, which is why they didn't create a brand film about the taste of their whisky. They knew that they aren't the only provider in the market and that consumers are aware of what whisky tastes like. They weren't interested in a benefit-focused piece of video content for their target audience at this stage of the marketing funnel because they saw a more effective way of differentiating themselves from the competition.

Instead, Bell's created a story with real emotional value that reinforces the values they believe in as a company.

2. Keep Your Values Prominent

Which leads us onto the next point. While you won't always want to shout about the benefits of your products or services in the middle of telling a good story, you can - and should - reinforce your brand values.

Yes, your customers buy from you because they have a problem and your product or service offers a solution. But they also buy from you because they agree with the values you express to the world. Remember: we all want to buy from brands we like.

That's why Bell's brand film is focused on their values rather than their product. The company wanted to create an emotional connection with viewers to reinforce their brand values and associate their whisky with those values.

Through the story of the film, Bell's is connected to values like strength of character, hard work and integrity. The whisky is positioned as a drink for celebrations, special occasions and honouring noteworthy deeds. Add to this the character of the old man learning to read - a hardworking, humble everyman - and Bell's links its brand to respect for those who deserve special recognition, beyond what they are usually shown.

Most importantly, these values aren't just invented for the purposes of the video. Honouring those who deserve it is already integral to the brand and what they believe in: for example, Bell's also supports Help for Heroes.

3. Embrace Universal Emotions

The reason why this brand film was so positively received and successful at raising awareness of Bell's is because it expresses genuine emotions that everybody can relate to.

Specifically the advert is tailored for the South African market - it features South African actors and locations, and is shot with South African television conventions in mind. But it tells a story with values that are universal.

A father who wants to make his son happy. An arduous task with an incredible outcome. Personal triumph and quiet humility. Everybody can appreciate the emotions present in the film, no matter where you live, or even if you drink whisky or not.

By embracing universal emotions, and placing them front and centre, Bell's created a brand film that not only expresses the values of their company but also tells an emotionally affecting story. Because the product is only introduced at the very end of the video in a situationally appropriate way, the story is accepted as genuine rather than with an ulterior motive.

Thanks to all these factors, the video on YouTube alone has been shared 8,000 times across the globe. Even though not everybody who shares it will necessarily want to buy Bell's whisky, they have all engaged positively with the video content and increased its exposure to more potential customers.


Bell's example is a great one to learn from. No matter what products or services you offer, you can incorporate video storytelling into your video content to engage your audience and humanise your brand. With this foundation you can improve your brand films, raise awareness of your company and its values, and achieve your overall business goals.


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James Bryant

Written by James Bryant Video strategist and co-founder for Venture Videos — a full-service video production agency that specialises in producing creative videos & campaigns that get real results.

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