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Storytelling needs a strategy

Storytelling and the power of video – two topics B2B Marketing has covered in recent months as our magazine’s cover story, and possibly two of the biggest trends we’re likely to see continue in 2013. So it was with great interest that I attended ITN Productions’ breakfast briefing this morning aptly titled ‘Corporate storytelling in the digital era’. An exclusive, invite-only event, there were around 30 client-side corporate comms and marketing folk from a range of B2C and B2B organisations in attendance – all keen to find out more about the power of online storytelling (as well as snoop round ITN's giant offices, no doubt hoping to catch of glimpse of John Snow tucking into his breakie). 

The briefing was broken down into three succinct presentations by the ITN Productions team. Account director, Simon Baker provided a general overview into why brands should consider storytelling through video, highlighting pertinent stats (e.g. 75 per cent of c-suite execs watch work-related videos per week and 32 per cent use video as part of final supplier selection), as well as emphasising the importance of the ‘human dimension’ in corporate videos even when the topic seems dry (a common obstacle in B2B). 

Duncan Gunstone, head of corporate productions, followed with an interactive session inviting the audience to analyse two approaches to video. I may well be late to the game, but it was the first time I’d seen or heard of an ‘unboxing’ video (google it if you don’t know either). It wasn’t really my cup of tea as far as videos go but then I’m not the target audience these types of video are intended to reach, which demonstrated Gunstone’s point about both resonance and relevance.

Lastly, brand director Marc Ortmans discussed video branding guidelines with two B2B case studies to demonstrate some of his key points. In particular, how video brand guidelines tie into overall brand guidelines was really interesting, as was the point about audio branding – “Most brands are mute” he suggested, pardoning Intel from this generalisation - we can all instantly recall the Intel chime (you’ve just played it in your head now haven’t you?).

For me, the event wasn’t a case of learning new things about video per se, but rather encouraging attendees to think much more strategically about how they go about telling their brand stories through this powerful channel. Any brand can make a video – even if you don’t have the enviable budget for ITN Productions. But if video is to really drive ROI, it needs to be considered much more strategically. It needs to tie in to long-term objectives with a set of key measurables established at the beginning of your journey, and not be seen - as is often the case with some digital activity - as just a bolt on to a campaign. I think once brands get to grips with this, we’ll start to see lots more intelligent and engaging video in the B2B arena – it’s a case of watch this space I guess.

Simon Baker contributed to the cover story in our Nov/Dec 2012 issue on our top 10 video trends of 2012. Find out what was hot this year and what to expect in 2013 and beyond...