Immersion & Theme: How We Establish Voice with Brands
One of the hardest questions in this new race for branded content is how to stand out. How do you connect with your audience and establish a trusted rapport via video content? Brands can’t get by only selling a product — you must tell us why and new consumers are wary of brands that won’t — for lack of a better term — talk with us. In an article for AdWeek, writer Bronwyn van der Merwe discusses the importance of voice and tone when it comes to how brands communicate with their consumers. It led me to think about how brands must create their voice and tone in video content, as well.
We’ve championed the importance of establishing a distinct voice for your brand through immersive visuals and thematic storytelling. We’ll discuss examples of how brands succeed in establishing voice and how we’ve helped build the voice for a select few brands, especially in our most recent spots produced with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Comedy and drama. A brand must choose which style of storytelling it will embrace. A few companies have cornered the market when it comes to certain brand voice such as Geico, Coca-Cola, and Apple. Just because these brands’ voices stem from the two modes of storytelling doesn’t mean they can be lumped together.
Geico stems from the comedy side of storytelling. However, you know a Geico ad when you see one. Geico pulls from their premises of “it’s just what you do” or “absolute truths.” Of course, their “truths” are ridiculous and comical in nature. From there, they draw the line of a ridiculous universal truth to the nonchalant idea that Geico is the insurance company you’ll choose. They assume you’ll shop with Geico. Their voice is laid-back, accessible comedy.
Brands like Apple and Coca-Cola delve into the drama spectrum of storytelling. That’s not to say that their video content is like watching a soap opera. They focus on themes of community-building, innovation, and happiness. Apple’s latest ad, directed by Spike Jonez, touches on isolation and depression and how Apple’s HomePod unleashes your world through the power of music. By honing in on one person and their drama, they communicate their brand’s voice of empowerment and forging ahead. Coca-Cola is a beverage enjoyed all around the world, and they take that message and put it in the spotlight. Through warm, bright visuals they communicate that their soda brings people together. A different type of drama, but a contagious brand tone, nonetheless.
The Voices We Elevate
Branded video content is about listening as much as it is about giving ideas. When we collaborate with a new brand, we take into account all of their marketing presence in order to familiarize ourselves with their brand voice. Everyone knows that a film without anything to say is bupkis. We’ll lay out how we helped broadcast the voices of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Audio-Technica, and Tractor Supply Co.
Sony Pictures is a different challenge because the spots we’ve created with them is based on the tone of the films we’re marketing. The Shallows is a summer thriller while Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a family comedy-adventure. Another tone that Sony Pictures has wanted to capture is the sense of immersion in their films, especially for these online content pieces.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a family comedy through and through with that added twist of adventure. Our challenge was to collaborate on two spots that communicated the family aspect as well as the immersion factor. These themes were fun to play with because the inciting incident of the movie is (spoiler alert) when the kids are dropped into the virtual world of Jumanji. That story beat gave us plenty of room to work with in order to establish the tone in video content pieces that stayed true to the spirit of the film.
Our approach alongside Sony Pictures worked on two different levels. First, the family-centric spot communicated that the Jumanji Blu-ray was a product that would be fit for the entire family. Additionally, it added that immersive flavor at the end of the spot when the entire family’s hair is blown back like they’ve just been on an adventure. The second level in regards to the Exploding spot was geared more towards comedy. It had that element of immersion as the guy explodes like the characters do in the movie. It’s a moment of physical comedy that’s shareable and relatable.
Audio-Technica is a brand that champions their world-class headphones and audio equipment with sleek, innovative, and modern aesthetics. For example, ‘Circle of Music,’ ‘Transformer,’ and ‘Dance’ all rely on slick filmmaking in order to reach their audience. Though the styles are different, you’ll notice that each of those brand pieces showcase the versatility, dependability, and innovation of the headphones.
In the case of the Gamer monk and Alien spots, those pieces borrow genre film tropes in order to connect with a particular audience: the gaming community. Though they are comedy spots, they still communicate that Audio-Technica’s headphones are powerful and meant for commercial as well as professional use.
Tractor Supply Co. is a brand that is geared towards the homeowner, the gardener, the farmer, the pet owner, and anyone else who enjoys the rural/suburban lifestyle. They’re all about community-building, much like Coca-Cola, and tailoring their brand towards people who “live life out here.” For the broadcast spots we created alongside their team, we used warm, inviting lighting, intimate camera placements, and shots featuring multiple people to spotlight their brand theme of community.
When creating video content, it is imperative to lay the foundation for the brand’s voice. The distinct tone of your brand must connect with audiences on a cognitive level––be it through comedy or drama. The brain identifies more and better associates with brands that make them feel something through laughter or human emotion. In this new age of streaming, instant gratification, and viral video marketing, you can’t afford to not have something to say or unable to say it in a way that activates people. We excel at helping brands raise their own voices with visuals that connect and inspire audiences to engage.
by Benton Olivares