Yes, that title is actually a Billy Ocean reference.

A successful video project has a lot to do with how we use our imagination. Stay with me for a minute. 

Our imagination is a skill that scientists still don’t really understand. What we know is that, through an incredibly complex process, somehow our brain has the ability to paint a mental picture of something we have never seen. In TED-Ed’s video, “The Neuroscience Of Imagination,” Neuroscientist Dr. Andrey Vyshedskiy talks about how we are able to picture a dolphin balancing a pineapple, despite the fact that we have never actually seen that image. To accomplish that, the group of cells responsible for the memory of a dolphin are firing at the same time as the group of cells responsible for the memory of a pineapple. Another portion of the brain is coordinating all of that. However, in all, there are most likely at least 12 areas of the brain, all helping you picture a dolphin balancing a pineapple, “like a collage made from fragments of photos”. 

The point is that our imagination is the thing that allows us to take various images and concepts from our memory and combine them into something new. This brings us to creating a marketing video. When a video is first discussed within a company, everyone who is contributing is pulling from a different set of memories, mental images and combinations. In their imagination they are starting to see what this new video will look like. Each person is combining what they have seen in other videos with what they know about their own company. They are pulling from literally thousands of videos that they have seen. Sometimes it will be overt and they might want to duplicate what they saw in one specific video. Other times it might be more subconscious. Someone might be mentally combining marketing videos, Hollywood films, pop-music and books they have read to say I want our video to “feel” a certain way. So when the first version of the video gets shared, it is all too common to get a lot of comments starting with, “Oh, I thought we were going to include…”.

This is where the video brief comes in. It is very dangerous to start a video project without being very clear about what is flying around in everyone’s imagination. The goal of the video brief is to go through a specific process to describe what you envision for your video. Sometimes this is visual, and other times it can have to do with messaging. For example, marketing might be excited to use the video on social media but sales expects to use it at trade shows. The more these things are specified up front, the less stress there will be when it comes time to film and later edit the video. 

Elements of A Video Brief

Here is what we suggest you should include in any good video brief. Keep in mind that any stakeholder that will comment on the edit once it is sent around for review, should also be included in this phase.

  1. Objective
    1. What Is the Business Objective of This Video? If there are multiple edits for this project list the objective of each.
    2. Will you be able to create conversions for each video? If so what type?
  2. Distribution
    1. Company Website (Where exactly will it be embedded? How will it be embedded?)
    2. Social Feeds
    3. Paid Media
    4. YouTube Channel
    5. Events, Trade Shows
  3. Target Audience
    1. Describe in as much depth as possible the target viewer. If there are multiple groups describe each separately.
  4. Messaging
    1. What is the unique value proposition of your company?
    2. How would you describe the “style” of your brand?
    3. If the audience could only remember one thing from your video, what would it be? (List for each video being produced.)
    4. What secondary messages do you hope to also convey? List in priority order.
  5. Characters
    1. How many people do you envision we need to interview?
    2. Are there any stories that have circulated that could relate to the topic of this video?
    3. List as many specific people that could possibly be in this video.
    4. Could you send out a company wide email to search for story? 
  6. Inspiration
    1. Create a shared list with links to any and all videos that inspire you for this video. Include notes on what you like.
  7. Style & Tone
    1. Do you want this to be conservative or edgy? Slick or heart-warming? 
    2. As best as you can describe the “feel” of the video.
  8. Logistics
    1. How many days of filming do you think is necessary?
    2. What locations might we use for filming? (List all that are possible)
    3. What are your thoughts on schedule? From the shoot to when you need the edited file.
  9. Budget
    1. How specific can you be about the budget?
    2. What level of production value do you think your audience expects?
  10. Analytics
    1. What will success look like for this video?
    2. Can you build a conversion into the video? (e.g. white paper download, form fill, etc.)