Don't move (continued)
Traditionally the domain of marketing and advertising, the use of motion to drive engagement, conversion and retention can be equally applied to great effect with employee branding. As it turns out, we’re hardwired to respond to stimuli — we crave it. We can’t help ourselves — it’s in our DNA. Apparently there’s a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, because, well, of course there is: It’s called the “orienting response” (aka “Что такое”, or “What is it?” in Russian).
Essentially, when we’re subjected to “repeated stimulus presentations” we become habituated and thus tend to ignore non-significant or threatening stimuli. In other words, we experience a “gradual familiarity effect”. (If you want to really geek-out over this, check out our Wikipedia source) As a result, we react to novel or significant stimuli that is above that to which we’ve become habituated yet below the threshold necessary to trigger a startle reflex.
Motion is ubiquitous now, and the competition for hearts and minds (and eyeballs) is at an all-time high. We live in a fragmented mediascape with attention spans decreasing daily. Why do so many people seek out video? It’s simple. Today’s media-savvy audiences seek to experience the magic of the medium — its emotive power, immediacy, and ability to entertain, educate and enlighten — in an instant.
Now more than ever, companies must leverage the power of video and other rich media to reach audiences who have greater control over what they choose to view, recommend or share. Empowered by the democratization of technologies users can create and capture high-end video on everything from digital cameras and camcorders to smart phones. And with the Web as an effective stage for this high-bandwidth content, these sophisticated viewers now expect the high quality once reserved for traditional broadcast outlets.
Adding complexity to this situation is the mistrust of anything that appears scripted or “spun.” Recent global turmoil in the social, economic and political landscape has made people more suspicious, skeptical and critical of what they see and hear from companies and institutions. The net effect poses a challenge for any organization wanting to connect meaningfully with an increasingly jaded audience. Fake news, anybody? “Authenticity” is still the new black.
So, then, how can you craft content that will rise above the din to engage your employees? Our experience tells us that it goes back to the basics of powerful filmmaking — that story, sight and sound must work in concert to connect emotionally with your audience.
A good story is to a successful film what a solid foundation is to a great house: Use the basic building blocks of a good story to inform, intrigue, illuminate or inspire, such as interesting characters, an inviting beginning, surprises and suspense, action that builds to a climax, and a satisfying or provocative ending.
An effective movie relies on these building blocks to feature believable characters with whom the audience can connect emotionally, and real situations in which viewers can see themselves. Factual content should frame a compelling point of view and reveal new insights, and the interplay and pacing of sights and sounds should draw in and captivate the audience. Your goal should be to weave an engaging story that feels genuine and meaningful to even the most discriminating audience.
Just remember that the story is not only what’s revealed on screen — it’s also part of your organization’s ongoing, multifaceted brand narrative. Individually, each story must be distinct and meaningful. Collectively, your stories must reveal the sum of the defining, special moments that bring your organization’s brand to vivid life — who you are, what you do and stand for, why it matters and how you are different.
Draw on the visual style(s) that will best engage your audience: What will tell your story most effectively — active or static camera; animation or live-action; type-only or a collection of stills; color or black and white; low production value or high; black and white or color; dark and moody or bright and optimistic; perhaps a hybrid variation? There are merits to each direction — consider your options carefully.
Consider sound — not just environmental sounds that set context and mood, but also the quality, timing and nuance of what’s being said in relation to what’s being seen. Be aware that there’s a unique tone, tenor and rhythm to a real conversation. It’s difficult for even the most skilled actors to make scripted content sound and appear natural and honest. Good filmmakers take the time to relax their subjects and guide them to speak and act in ways that resonate and ring true. As David Lynch likes to say, “Films are 50 percent visual and 50 percent sound. Sometimes sound even overplays the visual.”
A perfect symphony
The skilled orchestration of story, sight and sound can strike an emotional chord with audiences by creating an immediacy and intimacy that feels authentic. And memorable content can also extend your reach virally in today’s digitally connected world, as engaged viewers become advocates, passing on your message to new audiences. By artfully exploiting filmmaking fundamentals, you can not only shape compelling stories through this “magic medium,” but also evoke experiences that can deepen the relevance and resonance of your brand’s value proposition. The end result can help your organization build greater trust and credibility, and ultimately, forge an enduring connection with your most important stakeholders.
So cut through the clutter of familiar messaging and poke the corporate dinosaur: Try using motion for a stimulating break!
To quote the famous American film director, Stanley Kubrick: “The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
Baker understands the challenges associated with creating authentic, branded content and has worked extensively with clients such as Avery Dennison, Disney ABC, Booz Allen Hamilton and Qualcomm to create short-form videos that engage and delight employee workforces typically overrun with corporate jargon and engagement pablum.
(This article contains some content previously published by Baker.)