How To Nail The All-Important Case Study Video

What’s the value of a great brand video?

This morning I watched the new Square clip demonstrating the value of their updated reward program, and then ran across this sort of related article on Fast Company about building the “all-important case study.”

In this case, the case-study is about how an advertising company can build your brand through innovative cross-channel marketing. The article talks about how Ad firms are using the case study video format as a way of demonstrating campaign results, but the concern is when the video is better than the actual campaign itself.  It’s a good week to talk about the trend to use “case study films” (because they are are happening across many verticals), just as the Cannes Festival of Creativity gets underway.

More from FastCompany:

They’re a necessary evil, and when done right, are crucial in telling a creative story. But still, case study films have become the stuff of eye-rolling parody and the risk is that the focus is on the stat-packed overview, not the real creative idea and experience. Here, top agency leaders–and award show jurors–weigh in on how to make the best case.

Created as a response to the rapid growth–and overblown bluster–of the case study films now used to show off complex, integrated creative advertising ideas to awards show juries, (this Pink Ponies) parody typifies every last tired and predictable cliché that has become the industry-wide norm.

Are the video overviews the paragon of over-inflated self-importance or a necessary and useful illustrative tool for articulating multifaceted ideas? Are they the new standard for the modern marketing age, or are they a form of crafty smoke and mirrors that can use specious statistics to prop up a mediocre idea? The answer is: yes.

I find it interesting that more brands are not leveraging longer form stat-filled videos as part of their content strategy – to demonstrate their brand value using the case-study format. What is your product doing for the end-user, the consumer customer, the business customer. How has your product or service offering made a difference for your client. So why we see more client advocacy or education focused videos in the financial space, why not the case study format (at least from smaller financial brands)?

It’s probably because it’s not an easy thing to do – to make, what is really an ad, feel like a non-ad, and deliver demonstrated results in a case study format in an engaging way – to deliver something that is believable. It’s even harder to then get people to share that content because of whatever connection it impresses on them to the brand itself.

But companies like Apple do it exceedingly well, as demonstrated by the amount of buzz they garnered from last week’s MacBook Pro announcement at WWDC, and how many times I saw the product video shared across the social spectrum. View the video. While it’s not a case study video per se, historically Apple’s ads contain a focus on the product details that resonate with how the end user would interact with the devices – what a difference the products make in someone’s interaction with it.

While many brands post video updates on their company website or on a branded YouTube channel, what percentage of these videos really illustrate the value of the brand? Very few videos achieve social viral status, and that’s not what I’m talking about here. The overall impact of videos like Apple’s and Square is how it moves the brand forward, and how it eventually increases sales, adoption.

How many of clips really resonate with the customer’s needs, or demonstrate that they are solving a customer problem? A majority of branded video content suffers from low production value or a muddled message that doesn’t connect the viewer to the brand, or move the viewer toward eventual product use.

In banking, you might want to look at what Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America are doing with their client advocacy ads…these are also migrating to become more like tech case study videos like Square, because they resonate with existing clients, and (I imagine) have reach to influence eventual purchase behavior. And because these larger bank marketing budgets are moving more of these type of videos to the smaller screens (and more and smaller groups of targeted customers).

Today’s editing software and crop of local videographers make it easier for your (smaller) brand to make a (bigger) statement about what it truly can offer its clients.

The problem is in executing this well.

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