How to make sure your unscripted video is infused with brand message.

How to make sure your unscripted video is infused with brand message.

by Kevin Endres, December 12, 2016

At an American Marketing Association luncheon on new techniques in video, someone asked, “How do you keep unscripted video focused on your brand?”

The moderator called me out of the crowd for the answer. I’ve been using the technique, reality, non-fiction, unscripted storytelling, user-generated video or whatever it’s called nowadays, since 1999. Suddenly I had to talk intelligently and hit a few highlights. Now, with a bit more thinking, I’ll tackle the subject more in-depth.

Your brand stands for something. When you’re letting outsiders talk about it, unscripted, you never know what you’re going to get. The main thing to remember is keep it focused. Here’s how:

Before anything, you should really weigh whether reality storytelling is right for your brand and the message you want to get across. Does it fit your brand’s strategy, message and tone? There are all kinds of ways to tell a story and build brand. My favorite is to come with a big stinking idea, then write a script. Then give it first class production. Like this one for John Lewis from England. Reality storytelling isn’t for everything. There’s too much of it out there. And when it’s done lazily it comes off as boring, unimaginative and me-too.

Always start with the end in mind. I’m talking in the concept stage. Think about the main message you want to get across. How will what you’re doing lead up to that point? Think hard and write down what the whole idea is about and what you want to communicate. You don’t need a perfect line right now, just a communication point. In this pioneering campaign, we knew everything had to lead up to the end line, “Caring for you and those around you.” In fact, when the client said they wanted a campaign that featured the entire continuum of care and how they cared for the entire “family” around a patient, it actually spurred the idea to do a documentary series.

If you’re doing user-generated video where you are either asking participants to produce video or just finding video to use, again think about the idea you want to get across. Don’t try to tell participants strategy or anything. Just say in plain language what you’re looking for. In this first-ever (I think) user-generated campaign, we simply asked, “How is life different after this life-changing health event?” The answers we got were gold.

You have your summation idea, but there are probably other points that need to be included. An outline can help you set up story structure before you shoot. If you can script it, broadly, that’s even better. In this video, my client wanted to get across several important points. I did a broad script to remember those points and where they needed to fit in. Then I knew where the important points would go as we shot and edited.

Now work on that communication point and craft it into a strong, simple statement that grabs attention and brings it all together at the end.

I hope these suggestions help. Be real out there.

Kevin Endres is Owner/Creative Director of The International Offices. Find him at or @realendres.

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