Why Your Brand Video Sucks

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So your video sucks. Welcome to a very large club!

I once had this improv comedy teacher who was really gung-ho about stuff. We’ll call him “Raul”. Whenever someone would make a mistake during a scene (er, “weaker choice” to put it in improv parlance), Raul would roll his head back and emit a loud snoring noise to really drive home the point that he was BOOORRRRREEEDDDD.

The fact that your video sucks can be explained by a bad improv scene.
Image by Benjamin Ragheb, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Raul’s biggest pet peeve (and to be fair, this is terrible improv) was when two people doing a scene would start trying to get each other to do stuff:

Student 1: “You’re just sitting around. Why don’t you rake those leaves?”

Student 2: “I’m not gonna. I’m just gonna sit here.”

Student 1: “Well you have to.”

Student 2: “No. Why don’t you rake them?”

Raul: “Uuuuuuuuggghhhhhhhhhh!” *snoring sound*

And so it would go for scene after scene (this was a class of amateurs, after all).

His point was that the rote facts of what’s going on are not nearly as interesting as how the characters feel about the situation, or better still, each other.

If you’ve ever enjoyed, even a little, a play, movie, TV show, comic book, novel, radio drama, opera, song, joke, mime, bedtime story (you get the idea), it’s because there are one or more characters who actually give a crap about something and express these feelings through their words or actions.

Your video sucks because it’s all information.

If you’re not getting compliments from your prospects, customers, colleagues, friends, or family on your brand video, this is why.

Here’s a transcript of Raul watching your video:

Business Owner: “We started Acme ConsultantWiz in 2014 when we saw that there needed to be a consulting company that put customers first.”

Senior Team Member: “We have the experience to make sure you’re getting the best advice for how to succeed in the industry”

Business Owner: “When you hire Acme, you know your job is gonna get done right.”

Raul: “Uuuuuuuuggghhhhhhhhhh!” *snoring sound*

I spent 3 hours prospecting for clients today alone. When I prospect, I read websites. Lots of them. I’ve scoured thousands of company websites in myriad industries.

What you see above is what 18 out of 20 websites and videos do. They make the same tired claims about experience this and expertise that, and don’t do a damn thing to tell me what drives them as human beings (aka a single reason anyone would choose them over their equally mundane competitors).

If you think about it, isn’t what you’re doing with your life kind of a big deal?

One time, two students were doing this particularly painful scene where Student 1 had just announced that he was having an affair with Student 2’s wife.

Student 1: Hey, I need to tell you that I’ve been having an affair with Cynthia.

Student 2: Huh, ok, well, can you help me rake these leaves? *raking motion*

Student 1: What’s wrong with you? I just told you I’m sleeping with your wife.

So then Raul actually jumps on the stage and gets up in Student 2’s face, and he’s screaming, “He’s sleeping with your freaking wife! How does that make you feel?” But the dude just recoiled in embarrassment. He wouldn’t express any emotion.

Raul persisted, hoping if he yelled enough, the guy would mirror him by exploding into a visceral rage that could be channeled toward the fake man who had fake slept with his fake wife.

But the poor guy never cracked. I had to hand it to him – he really committed to that blank expression. He didn’t return to the improv class the next week, but don’t worry, he’s doing fine. He’s clearly the creative force behind 90% of the marketing videos on the internet.

Don’t downplay yourself.

It doesn’t matter what field you’re in. If you look at it the right way, it’s interesting as hell. You’re helping something important happen that makes a big difference in a few lives or a little difference in many lives. Celebrate that.

Even though your video sucks, knowing that you are personally very interesting (more interesting than your company alone), you’re in an excellent position to improve it. You can also change your website and other messaging to reflect this truth.

The best videos (and websites) I’ve seen have passion, personality, purpose, and emotion in droves. They feature the real people behind the company with real, personal reasons for being in business.

It’s not all about how happy you can make the customer. It’s about how happy it makes you to serve your mission. The rest comes automatically.

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