Brand Consistency: When Low Cost Video Works, and When It Doesn’t.

A couple of months ago I went to a presentation by a design agency. They work not just in conventional design but also in systems design, user experience, agile business design and so on.

The snacks were great, the trendy microbrewery ales were lovely. But the actual presentation was a bit poor.

No real effort had been made aside from throwing up a screen. No microphone so it was hard to hear. The audience were lit brighter than the speaker so you had to strain your eyes a little too. And the slides were busy and difficult to read.

design agency presentation - brand consistency

 design agency presentation - brand consistency

It was probably a low priority event for the company, but if a design agency can’t, or can’t be bothered to design a good presentation, with readable slides, they’re sending a poor signal about their whole brand.

There needs to be brand consistency. It’s not just the quality of the work but the quality of everything you put out needs to consistently sit at the same level as you place your brand.

Quality and Consistency in Branded Video

We are in an era of agile video. Social media channels require brands to produce more content, more quickly, more frequently and that can mean more cheaply than before. That often results in well intentioned, but low quality content that can actually be harmful to a brand.

A few years ago I was invited to the HQ of a major global professional services firm. They have gorgeous offices. It’s like walking into a top end hotel. The concierge is welcoming, the décor is stylish and expensive, and even the teas are those fancy ones in the silky tea bags. Everything says quality.

I was asked to critique their video content. The messaging was good, but the execution was poor. Ropy lighting, inconsistent sound, awkward performance. Not terrible, but not very good either. In every other contact point they were exuding professionalism, but in something as public as their videos they appeared mediocre at best. That’s a lack of consistency.

The firm are now a regular client and together we produce frequent simple and affordable videos, but with a focus on professional delivery – high technical quality, strong aesthetic values and and fluent performances.

When The Cheap Video Look Works

There are times when lower end or cheaper looking video might be right for a communication need. When it needs to feel really personal and intimate, when only an instantly posted video will do, or when you need to film in a challenging environment your audience will usually forgive it. If you have a star performer in the business, who you trust to upload frequent, fast turnaround, home made, personal videos you could be on to a winner, but they need to feel really authentic to pull it off. Most of the time though, low quality video casts a low quality shadow over the brand.

Some brands can get away with lower quality overall. If you are a public service, NGO, campaign group or charity, your audience will be comfortable with it. Content still needs to be engaging and sharp. But people could be turned off by seeing an expensive looking video if it implies money being diverted from front line services.

Even for lower end brands’ video, getting that level of brand quality right is something worth taking time over. Aldi is a discount supermarkets. They can get away with cheaper looking videos and commercials, compared to high-end rivals M&S.

But having made videos for Aldi I can reveal that looking cheaper and being cheaper are not the same thing. Aldi spend time and money getting their “cheaper” look just right. They need it to be consistent with their brand identity.

High Quality Doesn’t Mean Expensive

Avoiding rushed, cheap looking video doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Some simple tips that can help are:

Start thinking about the video elements early in your project.
Bring your film maker or video producer on-board early, to give them time to understand your project and brand. I have had clients reach out to me a year before delivery, or a few days before. The cost was the same but the projects where I could advise early are usually far better films.
Think carefully about who you engage. The cheapest supplier might have the equipment, but do they have the skills, experience and attention to detail to deliver quality work? A top end video production company isn’t always ideal either – you someone who will prioritise your project rather than rush it through or prioritise more lucrative projects.

Why Low Quality Video Gets Made

Video is often an after thought. Managers and marketeers know that video leads to higher SEO, greater engagement and visitors staying on your site for longer. They know they need it but they may not know what they want, or enjoy the process of making it. So they can have the attitude of “just make something” – that any video is better than no video. Even poorly thought out, quickly put together video.

In theses cases budget can dominate – finding the cheapest supplier and not allowing much time.

But your after thought video could be drastically letting down your brand identity. It could be doing more harm than good.

Video is one of your key public facing marketing tools. It sits, or should sit, on your website’s front page. It’s played at your conferences, events and exhibition stands. And it’s available globally, 24/7 on your youtube, facebook, linkedin and instagram, long after the client meetings are done and the reception is closed.

Don’t let poor quality, rushed, or ill thought through video facilitate the creeping feeling that your brand or product is low quality too. Because what you have to offer is probably amazing. And all your content should be just as amazing.

That’s brand consistency.