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The dos and don’ts of branded videos

How do you create great branded video content? Pete Fergusson, owner and CEO of Nemorin Creative Film & Media reveals some of the dos and don'ts.

Video is big. And it’s only getting bigger. In October 2017, IAB revealed that for the first time ever, online video spend overtakes banner ads.

But there are so many dos and so many don’ts for branded videos that you should be aware of. Here, Pete Fergusson, owner and CEO of Nemorin Creative Film and Media, gives you an insight into the most important ones.

Pete Fergusson was interviewed at Native Advertising DAYS 2017 where he was a speaker.


Below are highlights from the interview which have been slightly edited for clarity. 

Label clearly!

Do make sure you label the video content clearly as an ad. It might feel editorial and it should certainly be good content, but it should also be labelled very clearly so the audience understands that this is an advert, but they are still receptive to the content because it’s good.

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I don’t think, necessarily, the branded content needs to have a logo in the video in the first frame. I think it should be, say within the first five to ten seconds, so you give the video an opportunity to get people engaged.

Focus on the narrative

Don’t forget to focus on the narrative. It’s really easy to essentially produce a corporate video. But because it’s branded content and it’s an advert, you got to work really, really hard to make sure the story is strong and compelling and connects with you emotionally.

Don’t overbrand

Don’t overbrand as well. Not too much product placement. It’s really easy to go over the top in terms of branding and logos. Just go easy on that. And where you do have branding and product placement, it needs to be for the right reasons at the right moment so it’s aiding the story.

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In terms of convincing clients that they shouldn’t over brand stuff it’s really just about showing them examples of something that is over branded, and showing them something that is less branded, and ideally correlate that with some stats where you can see drop-off rates, for example, if there’s over branding.

Work backwards from end result

Do consider working backwards from the end result. Why are you making the video in the first place? Is it to drive people to an event, to get people to book a test drive, or to make a purchase? Look at that end result and work backwards from that. What things do you need to put in place may that end result happen.

Video length

Generally speaking, the rule around video has been ninety seconds or less which is true to an extent. Particularly for editorial content. The sort of videos that we see on Facebook and when we browse the internet, which I would describe as “incidental video” – content you just stumble across – they need to be short and sweet because people are so distracted by incoming emails, WhatsApp messages. Facebook messages and so on. They need to be short and to the point.

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But then, on the other hand, there is content that people are actively searching out and willing to stop and watch. That content can be a lot longer, even documentaries ten-twelve-fifteen minutes long.

One format does NOT fit all

I think it is a mistake to think that the same video will work across lots of different platforms. They may be similar but they should really be reversions. So Facebook, for example, is well-known for running their videos mute, albeit that’s slowly but surely changing. So you should be a slightly different approach to YouTube for example.

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It’s a mistake to think that you produce one video and it’s the same on the client’s website, on a publisher’s website, on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Having in-house capabilities?

If you’re an agency or a publisher or even a brand, you don’t necessarily need to have your own in-house video capabilities. Ideally, somebody would be appointed as your video person. They may just have an interest in video, they may have a background in video which should be even better.

You don’t necessarily need to have huge video teams. Video is big and complicated and you’ve got motion graphics and editing and producers and aerial filming and so on. You can’t have all of those people in-house – or if you do it’s going to be really really expensive. So see if we can find a small team or one person and then consider either outsourcing to a third party who can support the whole process including sales all the way through to delivery.

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