“The credit for a good ad goes in equal parts to the creative team as well as the brand“
A video production brief in specificity, answers the – what, when, where, why, and how. In addition to answering the fundamental questions, a brief is also a blueprint to approach the project and a business plan that outlines the brand’s goals and messaging.
In simple terms, a video brief helps identify ‘What is it that you want from this video?’
A coherent brief makes things easier for all parties involved to understand requirements. While working on a structured brief not only makes it easier for the creative team, it also helps align the brand’s internal team’s expectations and priorities. This is especially important for high investment projects since course correction during the production or editing phase can prove to be a huge challenge and sometimes may be impossible.
Here are some basic pointers to include in your next video production brief (or any brand communication brief) to be able to make the process as smooth as possible:
Summarise your business
A good brief should include notes about your business – what it does, vision, mission, and objectives. What is that one key proposition that sets you apart? What is your brand’s persona like?
Understanding your business and its needs helps the agency handle short and long term requirements better.
Define purpose and objectives
When defining the purpose of the video, be realistic with targets. Videos are a form of communication, not indoctrination. Detailing your vision of the video’s purpose for your business helps the agency ideate accounting for your perspective.
Is the video for internal training and onboarding? Will it be used to showcase product benefits in an exhibition? Are you planning to use the video in your sales pitches? For digital or television ad campaigns – are we looking to induce product trials? App downloads? Website visits? Or just plain old brand recall and recognition?
Be very clear about the ‘why’ of the video. This changes the entire approach of the team working on it.
When defining the communication objectives, we recommend a crisp, concise message with a call to action. The most impactful ads usually carry one central idea that leads up to a call to action at the end of the video. It usually seems tempting to say it all in one precious minute, since our brand has so many USPs! But unless you can narrow down that one key proposition or differentiating factor, there’s a very good chance the audience won’t either.
Know your target audience
It is critical for any agency to understand who they are targeting with the video. Different things appeal to different people. Having a specific target audience streamlines the creative process.
A product might apply to the entire spectrum of 18 to 60-year-olds, but plain vanilla messaging that is meant to cater to everyone, usually ends up catering to no one! Try to narrow down to your immediate and most critical target. Here again, knowing the objective helps.
Attempting to introduce your app and hoping for the early adopters? – Focus on the tier-1 tech-savvy young adults. They’re the most inclined to try out new things.
Trying to expand into new regions? – Hyperlocal, customised messaging is a better way for individual audiences to relate to, rather than a one size fits all solution.
Promoting a stock clearance sale? – Capitalise on brand loyalists and attract your regular customer base and then their lookalike audiences as a secondary target.
Select the most critical set of people for the current objective, the narrower you can go, the more impact you can create. Imagine an ad on YouTube that starts with the actor calling you out by your exact name…safe to say that’s one ad you won’t skip.
Clarify the logistical requirements
Video is a highly versatile medium. It is ideal for the video to be contextual and platform-specific. Informing the agency of usage will help ascertain the technical aspects, formats and more. Usage of the video covers everything from which platforms it will be seen on, to territories and demographics. If you’re unable to ascertain the right platform, use the above 3 points to work out the right platform with your agency and then freeze it before proceeding with the ideation process. Platforms also significantly impact the budgets of the project, no agency will charge the same for an Instagram story ad and a TVC.
Chart out a timeline
At the outset, your business has to set a release date for the video and backtrack through the video-making process with the agency to achieve desired results. Timelines are an essential part of working with an agency, short notices and unrealistic timelines are a big no-no. We would strongly recommend being considerate of the timeframe as agencies have a thorough process from pre-production to post-production to deliver the best quality results.
While ‘as of yesterday’ and ‘ASAP’ are popular timelines for most projects, some of the best results come up when the creative process isn’t rushed and the team gets the time to run each step by the client, right from scripting, storyboarding to casting, music and edits.
Finalise your budget
As a matter of practicality, inform your agency of the budget for your video. The stipulated budget makes sure everyone’s expectations are aligned. To be in tandem with the budget at the concept stage helps easily identify an effective storytelling format and other requirements.
This is even more critical in the situations when you are planning under a tight budget. Most writers are attuned to adapt to the budgets and have the experience of writing within the expected constraints. It is never a good idea to give the creators a free hand in the ideation phase only to regretfully decline an amazing script just because it is too elaborate or costly.
And finally, voice your preferences
If you’ve got strong likes and dislikes, the agency should be informed. If your business has brand guidelines, it is advantageous to provide these at the outset. Furthermore, it’s also helpful to indicate what you like and don’t like, so everyone is on the same wavelength.
It usually comes down to the risk-taking capacity of the brand and its stakeholders. Playing it safe with a generic tonality, broad user profile and multiple messages in a single video will almost always lead to a generic output that just fails to get that most coveted “wow factor”.
On the other hand a more specific tone, persona and message might reduce the volume of the target audience that it caters to, but will most definitely create a higher impact on the said group. How do you make the call between impact vs volume?… this will again take you back to the beginning: “What is it that you want from this video?”