The A-Z of Creating Captivating Content

Part One

We don’t want to sound like a bunch of smug so and so’s, but we’ve been around the block a few times, and when it comes to making branded content, we’ve got nearly fifteen years of experience under our big-girl belts. We therefore thought it would behoove us at this stage to impart some of this hard-won knowledge back into the world, doing our bit for karma and all the endangered animals and that. And to show off a bit.

As brands and agencies move further away from the traditional TVC, we’ve evolved and adapted our content production to reflect the changing trends in viewership. Here is our easy alphabetized run-down of what we’ve learned…

A is for…

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As campaigns are now spread across multiple channels and formats, each with their own requirements, it is important to understand each platform’s different audience and how they consume content on that platform. The content therefore needs to be optimized for each platform in terms of both its creative and delivery.

What needs to be asked first and foremost is; what does the audience want to watch? And then, how can we put the brand at the heart of that?

What do they find entertaining or informative? (Cat videos) What real issues do they care about? (Cats) What inspires them? (Kittens) What do they want from you? (More cat videos) What style and format do they find most appealing? (Cat video medleys)

For example we placed the thoughts and feelings of our audience firmly at the center of our recent online film for Mystery Vibe, a progressive producer of adult toys.

B is for…

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Of course the creative needs to be built around the resources available. As content is stretched out over multiple platforms, often the budget is stretched too. However we believe this shouldn’t mean a dip in quality between TV and online content. When budgets are stretched, ideas need to be kept strong and simple, with solid creative leading the way and a ‘nimble’ approach to crewing and production. More on that later!

C is for…

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Of course film is a powerful and emotive medium to connect with your audience. Whilst there isn’t always the same budget as with TV advertising, you often have more screen time and fewer restrictive hoops to cartwheel through.

Online content is a chance to move people to get results rather than just sell to them. You can encourage activity, create controversy, emote, make them laugh, make them cry and feed them emotion.

If what you’re saying is authentic your story will connect with your audience.

D is for…

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A great branded content director is unfettered by the restrictions and traditional thinking behind TV ads; they may be a documentary maker, a short film creator or music video director. The point is, they can approach content from a new and unusual angle, one that is designed to captivate audiences rather than to merely sell. This is why we have a whole range of directors on our books, from diverse and varied filmmaking backgrounds.

E is for…

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Whether it’s increased brand perception, views, actions taken after views, attention span, click through rates, sharing or number of times watched, video is one of the most measureable forms of content media.

However, just producing brand enhancing video and whacking it on YouTube isn’t enough. Once you’ve created the content, its amplification is then key. Tailored and bespoke video amplification, measurement and evaluation is needed so that great content isn’t being put in the wrong places and never seen by its desired audience.

F is for…

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There are much fewer restrictions on what you can put out online, so it is often a brand’s chance to push things further than they’d be able to on TV; go deeper, bolder and longer than ever before! We like to make the most of being unfettered by broadcast restrictions, which need to err on the side of safety for obvious reasons. Online is the chance to go braver, riskier funnier and more in depth! Huzzah!

G is for…

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We also like to use this filmmaking freedom to do good. We’re delighted that campaigning content is gaining ground, as brands get involved in culturally relevant stories, they are demonstrating what matters to them whilst engaging in conversations that are already happening, often on a large scale. Prime examples are Ben & Jerry’s, a longstanding champion of gay rights, or Sport’s England’s ‘This Girl Can” campaign.

Bonding audiences and brands through mutual concern creates long lasting loyalty in consumers and also uses film as a medium to do more than just sell a product.

At Maker we’ve set up Films For Good- a creative service targeted specifically at using the power of video to make the world a better place, one piece of content at a time. However it also makes commercial sense…

Market research firm Millard Brown has found that purpose driver brands (brands which are seen to ‘make people’s lives better’) grow at twice the rate of those that are not. Similarly Unilever has reported that their brands with “purpose’ (i.e. Dove, Persil etc.) are growing at twice the speed of the others in their portfolio.

H is for…

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We like set achievable objectives early and work towards them together. Whether it is a client’s first foray into the world of online content or they are old hands at it, it is important for us to make sure that targets are set and reached together.

I is for…

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As well as entertaining and engaging, branded content should inspire and inform. A few years back we worked with the Cornish outdoor clothing company Finisterre. The business objective was to raise awareness of their new wetsuit, the comms objective was to ‘romanticize cold-water surfing’ and the value to the customer was to remind them of why they surf and inspire them to get out in the water more.

We were looking for that sweet crossover point where the brand’s and their customers’ interests, values and passions overlap. So we created a portrait of a surfer who was considered a hero by the brand itself- and they wanted to share that inspiration with their audience.

J is for…

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Whenever we work with a brand or agency it is so important for us that we are working in synergy. We like to communicate, check-back, collaborate and work together towards shared objectives; this is how the best work happens!

K is for…

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Using the right tools for the job is a basic for us. The platform often dictates what’s needed and for us it’s important not to squander budget where it doesn’t need to be spent. We wouldn’t shoot an Instagram video on an Alexa, but nor would we shoot a TV ad on our phones, innit. As we always say, different coats for different goats.

L is for…

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Every day is a school day in the world of branded content and we’re very comfortable with the fact that we’re still learning. A lot of putting out great online content is about being reactive to your audience and learning and amending as you go in correspondence to comments and viewing numbers.

Analyzing what works and what doesn’t is the best way to evolve your content; experiment and tweak. For example when we noticed that one of our films for Stylist wasn’t doing so well, we simply re-named it with a more searchable title and it’s viewing figures doubled.

M is for…

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When we’re not making films for brands and agencies we like to keep ourselves limber with passion projects. We are first and foremost filmmakers and our need to create doesn’t stop at the end of the working day. We like to re-invest what we make in developing and nurturing our directors to make sure the ideas and talent keeps flowing.