What Goes In Video Branding Guidelines (and Why You Need Them)William Gadea 05.16.2017
Most companies of consequence today have branding guidelines: documents that specify typefaces, color palettes, and graphic design rules for creating marketing collateral. But it is shocking how many companies of scale still have not developed video branding guidelines.
If your company is creating video to communicate with your customers, prospects, partners, or employees, and you don’t have video branding guidelines, chances are your videos are not expressing your brand in a way that is seamless with your website, printed material, powerpoints, and product. Given how powerful and popular video is, straying from your identity in such an immersive medium can weaken your brand experience considerably.
So what do you need in put in your brand guidelines?
What Is Your Graphic Identity?
This is the easy part because if you have a brand style book at all, it has already been defined:
- What are your typefaces?
- What are your colors?
- Are there additional graphic elements that are part of your brand, such as quote boxes, framing devices, or underlining devices?
- Is there a style or feel to your brand? Are you modernist and sleek, or classical and filigreed?
- Do you have a standard treatment for photographic material, such as a desaturated, lightly tinted, or duotone?
Remember, video will sometimes require modifications to your existing style. A great typeface for printed material will sometimes work less well on a video screen, for example.
What Is Your Brand Voice and Personality?
This might already be in your Brand Book, but since video is more of a story-telling video, video-makers will welcome a fuller definition. Is your brand voice casual or formal? Funny or serious? Smart or plain-talking? What is your brand’s attitude to the problems you solve? To the customers you serve?
Define Your Footage for Reuse
Do you have existing collateral that can be re-used in future video productions? If so, your branding guidelines should say what they are and where they can be found. If you don’t have these, you should consider producing them, or extracting them from your past projects:
- Bumpers: footage at the head or tail of the video identifying your brand.
- Logo animation: an animation that builds your logo onto the screen.
- Lower thirds: a text treatment (and sometimes) background for titles identifying a speaker on screen.
Define Your Audio for Reuse
Audio is one thing that is probably not defined in your current brand book, and definitely should be included in your video branding guidelines.
- What music can be used? Here you might define an orchestral approach or a mood.
- Some companies pre-purchase music, licensing it for their exclusive use, and make it available to their video-makers.
- Are there any branded sound effects that might liven up transitions or your logo build? Think of the musical note and static that you hear when you see the HBO bumper. It is probably a bigger part of the HBO brand than the visuals onscreen are.
What Are the Deliverables?
You should be unambiguous with your video providers or in-house crew as to how your videos should be delivered. There will likely be different deliverables depending on the end use of the video.
- Web: 720p is usually an adequate resolution for nearly all web uses.
- Events: If you have events where video is being projected on a large screen, it is advisable to ask for higher resolutions. Certainly 1080p, but if your venue has the right screening capabilities, 4K video will look fantastic.
- Trade shows and in-person demonstrations: Usually these take a digital file.
- Internal and Broadcast TV: Sometimes these will require a slate and 2-pop before the picture starts.
For each of these end-uses, you should define the following:
- Resolution, such as 720p, 1080p, or higher
- File format, such as Quicktime or WMV
- Codec, such as .H264 or ProRes 444
- Audio specifications, such as 48Khz Stereo
- File-naming convention
Also, if you expect working files to accompany all video deliveries, you should say so. This is not a trivial request for most video providers, and might well incur overages if it is not defined in your contract scope.
If video providers hire actors to be spokespeople, or to represent your customers or employees, it is a good idea to define what your expectations are. Should they try to recreate the demographics of your buyers? Is there a level of diversity they should strive to meet? These issues are better defined upfront.
If you often cast voice-overs, define the criteria you might use to choose the right artist, and what the parameters are there: age, gender, attitude, accent.
Animated Character Guidelines
In the animation world, we don’t hold castings, but we do depict humans. Is there a style of character that is on-brand or not on-brand? Be careful about being too prescriptive here: if you define only one character style as being appropriate it may lock you into a single provider or price point that might not always make sense for you.
Is there a particular animation style that fits your brand perfectly? Are there animation approaches that are just inherently wrong? If there is, say so. Here are the styles of animation available:
- Motion Graphics (very limited or no character animation)
- 2d Character (drawn, or traditional style)
- 2d Character (vectorized, or puppet style)
- 3d or CGI
Digital Distribution Guidelines
Are there certain standards or practices you would like to upkeep in the distribution of your videos? Depending on who has access to the document, the Video Brand Guidelines might be the place to define this.
Who is responsible for choosing a thumbnail, for instance? Do you expect the video-makers to provide that? If so, include it in the deliverables.
Do you have an international audience that requires translations? If so, define how that should be done: with .SRT files, subtitle burn-ins, or dubbing.
Do’s and Don’ts
Brand books often have a do’s and don’ts section, where they cite examples of practices that are on-brand or off-brand. Like this, for instance:
It’s a good idea to include what you do and don’t want to see in your video branding guidelines too. Do you never-ever-ever want to see generic stock footage in your b-rolls? Say so!
Protect Your Brand, But Don’t Be a Brand Nazi
Don’t forget the point of a brand! Brands exist to differentiate the customer experience of your company from the experience provided by your competitors. It is very possible to squeeze so hard on your brand guidelines that the branding defeats its own purpose: it chokes off an expression that might differentiate your company from the pack. If you define the tools your video-makers can use too tightly and strictly, if you limit their palette too dramatically, you just might be left with something that looks and feels exactly like everyone else – which is not what you are trying to achieve.
If you are interested in developing video branding guidelines for your company, or if you would like to make some animation for business, we would be glad to help! Reach out to Jim White at (212) 695-7240.