Ad spend on online video continues to grow year after year, and the volume of video content available on streaming sites, social media platforms and subscription services continues to skyrocket.
As the viewing behavior of people dramatically changes, the importance of video sharing sites such as YouTube has greatly impacted the revenues of traditional TV advertising. As the old world dies, the new world is born. Traditional broadcast TV is dead, and on-demand online video is rapidly taking its place.
Online is first choice
Ask a person under the age of 40 (and increasingly those who are older) where they go to find information, the answer would probably be Google and then YouTube. The reality is that we, as consumers of information, have become much more passive. If we have a choice between reading a web page or watching a video, most would choose the video. But why is this?
A well-created video has the power to communicate a clear and powerful message in the shortest possible time. As the demands for our attention increase, our attention spans become shorter and shorter and so the idea of "bang per second" has fueled the explosion in online video.
Typically, online videos come in two main flavors:
- the "I just filmed this with my phone and yes it looks bad, but the content is real" variety, and
- the videos that are made by professionals to look and sound as good as possible.
What makes a great video?
The reduction in cost and general improvements in the tools needed to make videos has led to a widespread change in video production methods. Traditionally, to make a professional video would involve a film crew of a director, camera person, sound person, lighting technician and potentially other supporting staff. The necessity of such a large crew and the need for a company to employ them resulted in a correspondingly high cost per video.
However, technological advances in camera, sound, lighting and editing equipment over the last 10 years, have resulted in a new breed of film maker. These sole operators can use new technology to create professional videos, either alone or with a minimal crew. Less crew = less cost. However, with the right knowledge, experience and imagination, creative filmmakers can produce videos that are as compelling as those made by the larger companies.
As a result of these changes, most companies and organizations have taken the leap and started to create video content to fill their own channels on sites such as YouTube. Sometimes these initiatives are part of a well thought out social media strategy, but often they are established reactively, with little thought and most importantly, little control.
What do great videos have in common? In general, in addition to quality content or interesting information, they follow a consistent branding strategy. This means:
- Consistent opening and closing segments (intro/outro)
- Consistent music (or an intro/outro theme or score)
- Consistent style or tone (program uses the same style of language, or repeats certain phrases)
- Consistent filming style, lighting, color
Protecting your brand image
As new methods for video production explode, brand style guidelines for logo use, colors, fonts and overall tone, which are vigorously enforced for traditional print and web media, are often overlooked for online video. In some ways the use of branding in online videos is a bit like the wild west: lawless and without a sheriff!
As the importance of video marketing increases, it is vital you enforce the same discipline for brand consistency in all of your online videos that you would for other elements of your brand messaging. This involves two key steps:
- Creating brand guidelines that are designed for the specifics of video (creating the laws).
- Enforcing these guidelines by creating an approval process to upload videos on the official channel (being the sheriff).
What is brand consistency and why does it matter?
Brand consistency is the delivery of your message in a way that uniformly reflects your brand identity, values and position over time. Consistency is important to facilitate brand recognition and ensure that what your audience sees and hears is in alignment with your core messages, visual branding, and other brand elements. Without it, your brand becomes diluted, or even meaningless.
Optimizing your video
It is also important that your YouTube channel is consistent with your brand. YouTube even offers tips for how to create a better video channel, which includes:
- Always brand your channel
- Include logos and branding elements (colors, wording) across all elements
Your channel brand is the set of unique characteristics that separates your channel from the rest and communicates your key messages and content strategy
YouTube suggests you include branding elements in these four areas to ensure consistency and create a cohesive brand:
- Channel icon is your signature image or logo that represents your channel. It appears in many places—on your channel page, when you comment, and on the bottom right of videos in most playback modes. It’s best to upload a square or round image. See design guidelines.
- Channel art is a larger banner space for you to show what your channel’s about. A lot of creators include their upload schedule here. We recommend banners be at least 2560x1440 px to achieve the best display on all devices. You can create this in your favorite photo editing software. Canva is a popular resource for making banners.
- Channel description in the “About” tab gives viewers an overview of what they can expect from your channel. It could describe the types of content you will produce, include your upload schedule, and note who is starring in your videos. You can also include links to your website, contact info and/or social media accounts.
- Channel trailer is a quick video that lives on your channel page and displays to unsubscribed viewers. You can use it to give your audience a preview of what to expect on your channel and encourage them to subscribe. Note: your channel trailer may evolve as your channel grows.
Best practices on how to optimize your YouTube channel can be found here:
Want to know more?
Download our checklist for creating a video style guide.
[This post was originally published in 2017 and updated in January 2021]