The Power of Brand Story Videos

March 20, 2019

Video is the best content type for conversion. For a business to create an effective video, it must include a great story. Read 5 elements of a great brand story video.

People aren’t reading anymore; they’re watching.

They don’t want to read your white paper – they want to be engaged, interested, and entertained. 

Prospects want information in seconds, not minutes or hours. 

So, how will you stand out from your competition? The answer is with videos.

Videos convert better than any other content type, according to 74% of marketers.

Why Is Video Important to Me?

Source: Why Is Video Important To Me?

Videos are important for businesses.

As the owner of Rip Media Group, I believe in the power of story. More importantly, I believe in the power of visual storytelling. I have produced Hollywood films and more than 1,000 branded commercials for brands such as Cisco, Ben and Jerry’s, Comcast, The United Nations, NetApp, and hundreds more.

Video is the best way to tell a story, but you need some rules to guide you through the process.

Let’s cover the 5 most critical elements of a great story. 

Lesson 1: The Experience

Great advertising is focused on one thing: getting the buyer to understand what’s in it for them.

A video should be all about your client or prospect and solving a problem they have.

Resist the temptation to show off the tech you have and how you are so much better than the competition. You need to make your audience understand exactly how you can benefit them.

Your viewers want to know how you will:

  • Solve their problem
  • Achieve a goal
  • Help them look better or make more money

Once you have people thinking about how terrific your offering will be for them, your job becomes far easier.

Take a moment – what are the top 3 things your product does to improve your customer’s life? This will help you figure out what experience you want to show customers in your video.

Lesson 2: Create Your Ideal Buyer Profile

So, who is your most desired buyer? Who did you create your product or service for?

The more in-depth you can go with your buyer profile, the better your script and subsequent marketing video will be.

It is personalized touches that make all the difference because sales is a one-to-one promise.  The more you can tailor your message, the more effective the story will be.

You can start with the basics, such as:

  • Job role
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Education level
  • Geography
  • Industry
  • Motivation
  • Goals
  • Challenges (that you solve)

With these, at a minimum, you can tailor your message directly to the needs, goals, and desires of your target audience

Now, your foundation has been laid, and you can start framing.

Lesson 3: The 4 Types of Stories

Stories induce relationships and activate emotional memories. Your marketing stories should be created to generate these reactions. There are four types of stories you can use to get your message across:

1. The Underdog Story

You know this type, when, against all odds, our hero wins the day when he or she really shouldn’t: the underdog-hero, “an every-man/every-woman,” except for one or two extraordinary talents. Feature film examples of this story type include “Rocky,” “Harry Potter,” and “Wall-E.”

2. The Hero’s Journey

This story type takes our empathetic underdog (see above) on a journey that starts in relative obscurity/insignificance but ends with accomplishments he or she could only have dreamed of before. Familiar examples of this are “Star Wars,” “Lord of The Rings,” “The Princess Bride,” and nearly every Nike commercial. 

An example would be a Nike commercial featuring Michael Jordan discussing all the hard work that went into his success.

Michael Jordan Nike

Source: "Maybe It's My Fault" - Michael Jordan for Nike

The Nike commercial is a prime example of a video featuring a hero’s journey.

3. The Nuts and Bolts

“How-to” videos can sometimes act as a “mini-documentary,” where the goal is to engage and teach, and the takeaway is learning something new. When it comes to facts, information, or learning a new technique, communicating in a story format will give your videos edge over your competition.

4. The Transformation

Stories about characters whose lives are transformed are the most interesting to our emotional sense. You want to accomplish transformation with your video-based stories because the goal is to transform your buyer’s lives for the better through your product and/or service.

Lesson 4: The 3-Act Structure

Every great story contains commonalities that drive emotion. Simply put, the 3-Act Structure is made up of three major turning points:

  1. The setup
  2. The midpoint or “big twist”
  3. The resolution

3-act structure

Let’s break these 3 acts down:

Act One: The Setup            

The opening of Act One is known as The Setup. Here, the protagonist is introduced, and the antagonist is brought up — though not necessarily seen at this point. 

Within the introductory scene, a compelling protagonist will do something likable. This does not mean that our protagonist has to be a “good person” – he or she just has to do something endearing, something that hints to the better or relatable side of his or her character.

For example, our hero robs a bank, but on the way out, he coolly slips a stack of money into the pocket of an old man who was denied a loan earlier. At that moment, we see that our protagonist has guts, but he also has a heart.  We have empathy for him.

About a third of the way through Act One, there is a moment that changes our protagonist and moves the hero into action. This moment is called an “inciting incident.” Maybe the main character comes face-to-face with a life-altering problem.

 This sets up Act Two.

Act Two: The Midpoint

Things start to get really interesting in Act Two, as the protagonist comes across obstacles. Action rises, the audience’s heart rate spikes, and the video has the audience’s attention.

The midpoint is also known as “a big twist.” This is something that completely throws our protagonist off. The shocker of the story. The partner is the enemy. The bad guy becomes worse. The lover is a spy.

Act Two is all about surprise and confrontation.

From the midpoint, we move on to another obstacle, then a major disaster, which leads to an ultimate crisis. Our hero loses all hope. The main character doesn’t know who to trust or where to go in this moment of crisis.

This leads to the video’s climax.

Act Three: The Resolution

Act Three starts off with a bang, riding the wave of the final climax of Act Two. The climax of Act Three takes up the first two-thirds of this ending section.

The major component of Act Three consists of descending action. Then we have a wrap-up and the end. Act Three is known as The Resolution in that it ties together all the floating questions from previous scenes.

This is the time for resolution. The Third Act is the place to bring the story together for a great last impression.

Why Should You Use a 3-Act Structure?

The 3-Act Structure works because it keeps the reader or viewer engaged. It is filled with adversity, high stakes, and a hero’s quest. There are surprises and turning points along the way that perfectly build into climaxes and a final resolution.

If you look at any story you enjoy, you’re sure to find the 3-Act Structure keeping the ups and downs plus the flow of it all together. 

Lesson 5: Test Your Script

You’re close, but you’re still one critical step away.

Lessons 1 through 4 put you in a great spot, but there is a critical next step: testing.

Here are the 5 steps we like to consider when testing video scripts at Rip Media Group:

  1. Create a “scratch track” and listen to your script: You may be amazed by what you hear. Just recording the script on your phone and replaying it will open pathways that you do not see when you simply read it. Note: there are auditory learners and there are visual learners; make sure your script appeals to both types.
  2. Ask: Would my ultimate buyer need to know this? From your buyer’s perspective, is the information relevant and necessary to their needs? Is your message effective at conveying exactly what you need it to?
  3. Pretend your competitor is playing the video to your customers: If it bothers you to imagine your rival’s logo at the end, then you have something good on your hands.
  4. Call-to-Action: The whole point of this story is to elicit a response. Do you have something for motivated viewers to do now? Are they engaged? If so, did you give them a link to learn more, sign up, or purchase?
  5. Mystery: Did you leave viewers longing for what’s next? It’s important not to explain everything – you need them to take an action with you. Do you want them to enter an email or peruse your site further for that deeper insight?

Once you’ve collected this data, analyze it with a ruthless eye toward making your message as good as it can be.

Writers are often counseled to “kill their darlings,” meaning that every beloved phrase, no matter how clever, may not serve the story. If it does not, it’s time to start pressing “delete.” Every word should lead your viewer to the outcome you are seeking.

Your script may go through several revisions before you are ready. Don’t fret, as this will lead to a better finished product.

Keep It Short and Shareable

Luckily, some people read. You just did if you are here. The rules of story matter not only in video but also in all communication channels.  

Having a great story will lead to the creation of a great video, which will attract an audience that will result in more viewers, customers, and, ultimately, more revenue.

The 5 most critical elements in a great story are:

  1. Leverage the experience
  2. Create your buyer profiles
  3. Know the 4 types of stories
  4. Use the 3-Act Structure
  5. Test your script

Following these rules, our stories and commercial video content have helped create more than $100 million dollars in funding and revenue gains by our customers. I am deeply proud of this and hope that these tips help you as well.

About the Author

Headshot of Maury RogowMaury Rogow is CEO of Rip Media Group. He has launched over 100 brands and 3 successful startups using visual storytelling structure. One of his earliest lessons was being a part of selling a start up to Cisco Systems for $2 Billion. He is an out of the box thinker and delivers real results with video first marketing.