Film is the best way to embody a brand. This is at the core of our thinking at Maker – and as you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’re wise to it too.

So, what is a brand film? They come in all shapes and sizes but simply a brand film is well crafted, compelling content; cinematic storytelling using the art of filmmaking to create strong emotional connections.

An excellent brand film is a bit of a tease.

A brand film should communicate with its target audience without overwhelming them with detail or sales messages. The key is to make an emotional connection so that potential customers remember you but are left wanting more. The film draws your audience in and leaves them with a clear sense of what your brand means.

Our recent Emotive Film for Gaggenau is a great example of one of our favourite kinds of branded content. Enjoy the film below then delve a little deeper into our process to bring out some of the key ingredients that go into making a great brand film.

1. Clarity and collaboration

It all starts with a great brand that knows who it is. Gaggenau has been a pioneering brand for high-end appliances for over three centuries and brings with it a very clear idea of its audience. Moreover, they are a brand that appreciates that a well-made film is far more powerful than just words and pictures. In short, a dream brand to get under the skin of and one that lends itself perfectly to being brought to life on film.

With multiple parties involved in every project, it is vital that they are aligned and harmonious about what the brand is all about and more specifically the campaign in question. Complementary skills, healthy collaboration and regular communication between key partners plus that combined determination to go the extra mile helps ensure a brand film will succeed. Find and work with partners who are on the same page as you creatively. For Gaggenau, we’re delighted to be working with Saddington Baynes, award-winning creative production agency;

“For a delivery like this we needed a production partner that we could trust – one who truly appreciates and facilitates a genuinely collaborative approach. Maker brought this to the table from the outset, along with the creativity and proactive approach required to answer the brief and a true understanding of the project’s unique requirements. Working together in a close partnership enabled us to overcome various challenges to deliver a film that all involved are rightfully proud of.” Chris Christodoulou, CEO, Saddington Baynes.

The filmmaking process itself is a highly collaborative one so cast your crew with the brand in mind. Every creative decision – from planning the shoot to the pacing of the edit and composition of the music – reinforces what we’re sharing with the audience about the brand.

On this project, we chose to work with DOP Shaun Atherton. Not only is he a pleasure to work with while turning over sensationally beautiful cinematography, but his sensitivity to a brad’s identity permeates every creative decision.

“After talking through the project with our director Nick Marchant we felt that we needed to reflect the way in which the Gaggenau products are made to fit into their environment unobtrusively. They are there but they look like they belong there in an understated way rather than shouting about it. We used natural light throughout our photography to really enhance this feeling, choosing our angles based on where the sun was rather than trying to force something to work for us. We stuck to our mantra of no over-lit pack-shots in the studio and making use of and augmenting the natural light on location and the result is a connection between product and surroundings that would have been lost with a heavy handed use of lighting kilowatts.” Shaun Atherton, DOP

Once you have your shared creative vision firmly in hand, the next consideration is the level of production values required…

2. The right production values

Understanding what kit and approach is all about gauging and establishing what’s right for the brand and their campaign within the parameters of the budget.

Sometimes a brand’s concept might be less developed and the excitement of producing a brand film is that you’re helping to create that public entity. A brand like Gaggenau already has a strong visual identity so it’s our job to interpret that and translate it visually.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Should this be user generated content, shot on a phone or does the creative require a professional aesthetic? If so, where on the spectrum of production value should it sit? Are the scenes doco in style, or staged like a drama? Should the depth of field be shallow or wide? Is it handheld or slow measured movements? How do the graphics reinforce the brand? How far should we push the grade?

The level of production value is a language that says something about the brand.

But it goes hand in hand with budget parameters so it’s about finding the right balance. Considering the camera alone there’s a massive, and ever-evolving, spectrum of kit available. Sometimes a 5D, A7S or similar will do the trick, or do we up the ante – a C300? An Alexa? A Red perhaps? Did someone say Phantom? Each camera has its own look, cost and associated shoot requirements such as additional kit or crew. We always weigh up what’s the best look we can achieve on the budget we have – and if we’re paying more for camera kit is another area of the project’s budget going to pay the price? Here, Shaun expands on his camera and lens choice;

“When considering my options in terms of how our films for Gaggenau should look and feel I wanted to reflect the identity of the brand in all of my choices. What jumped out at me immediately when researching the brand was one word: precision. Whether precision in terms of the clean lines and high quality of finish or precision in terms of the level of control their products offer over temperature that was my key inspiration. To reflect that I chose to shoot at the highest resolution possible, 8k on the RED Weapon Helium. This is as sharp as digital film making gets at the moment and to really get the most out of it I chose the sharpest lenses available in the Leica Summilux-C series. They resolve far higher lines per mm than any other prime lens so they really bring the best out of the Helium sensor while still retaining cinematic fall off of focus and soft focus highlights.” Shaun Atherton, DOP

Not every film needs to be shot on a Red at 8K, far from it, but how an idea is executed is always going to say something about your brand.

Patricia Heinis, Marketing Manager, Global Brand Gaggenau: “We see extraordinary architectural statements as something that should be seen in all spheres of life, from film to reality. Staged beautifully and with perfect illumination, Gaggenau’s imagery is no longer simply about storing wine or refrigerating, but making a statement.”

To see Shaun and his (Red) weapon in action, go behind the scenes on Gaggenau here:

3. Be emotive

Branded content has to make the viewer feel what the brand is all about – it has to resonate and engage on an emotional level. The goal of a brand film is to stir their emotions and make that connection. In recent years Gaggenau has sought to inspire and connect with its audience on an emotional level when it launches its products, but always in line with what the product, the launch and what they as a brand stand for. Architecture affects human emotions and the way we feel. Inspiring viewers to ‘Make a statement’ feels more like an emotional call to arms than a sales oriented call to action.

Straight from the off, this film draws viewers in and keeps them watching. Director, Nick Marchant, explains how the team brought to life the key brand idea and specifically the product in a way that would stand out and tap into emotion.

“The challenge was to position Gaggenau’s product as an architectural statement. This was about brave design, clean lines and intelligent living. Being in harmony with our environment. We focussed on the relationship between nature, architecture and the product to show how one inspires the other. The misty woodland felt like a perfect environment for us. It felt cool, was full of interesting shapes and textures and contained the materials in the house and the product. At the location we looked out for architectural details which featured the natural materials in the environment and shapes that echoed the design of the product. The trees could feel architectural, the house had these natural textures with bold clean lines, and the product had graphic shapes that when we got close had an epic feel to them. So it was all about composing shots and using light and texture to draw out these connections and weaving them together so they felt seamless. Ultimately we wanted audience to feel a connection to these elements so we looked to make the film as intimate as we could.  With the gentle camera movements we wanted to make the viewer feel they were in the film and give them time to appreciate subtle details.” Nick Marchant, Director

As brands continue to navigate the wonderful world of content we’re excited to see how the pioneering ones are experimenting with the medium of film – whether they be animated shorts, documentaries or cinematic fiction. We see brands as entertainers, publishers and originators – integrating their product into the story without the hard sell, investing in original programming and embracing filmmakers along the way.