What makes a good corporate video? Why emotional connection is the key to success.

18th June 2020

At Hurricane, we’ve spent the past 14 years in corporate video production and in that time we’ve made hundreds of promotional videos for brands… and we’ve got very good at it! But what is it that actually makes a corporate video engaging? and how do you make video content that’s really worth watching?

To help you with this question, this blog returns to one of my most popular themes and looks at how connecting with an audience at an emotional level is key to brand growth. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling stationery, soft drinks, machinery parts or holidays, your customers have feelings, worries and cares, and you need to make sure they feel the right way about you.

For those of you that prefer to watch rather than read, I’ve also recorded it as a video blog which you can see below … the choice it yours.

In this blog we are going to explore how emotion can be used to create more effective corporate videos and brand promos. First, we will look at why emotion drives behaviour change (especially in video) and why this is key to brand growth. And then we move onto look at how you can develop and roll out more effective content built around an emotional connection.


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So, let’s start with section one:

Why emotion works and how to use it.

Humans have evolved telling and listening to emotional stories, from the very first cave paintings to scary narratives of monsters around the campfire. It’s how we have always communicated and understood the world around us. Indeed, when humans see or hear a story a lot happens. Firstly, our brain waves change, the amygdala and hippocampus kick in to remember things, our language centres spark up ready to understand the world, and our brain is flooded with neurotransmitters and hormones like vasopressin, serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin and our favourite… dopamine. These chemicals cause emotion to kick in which hijacks our cortex, making us forget about using our observant, considered judgements, instead moving to a reliance on emotional decision making.

Just to illustrate how content sparks emotion, let’s run a quick test.

Take a moment to think how you feel now, which part of you is working to read this article. Is it your brain or your emotions, how does concentrating feel and how would you describe your emotions now ?

Got it? Now watch this video and come back to the blog.

How do you feel now? How did just 92 seconds of video change a mood. So what happened, well you had an emotional response, probably one best summed up as distress and empathy. But what actually made you feel that? And how do we apply that to corporate video production? Well your body and mind were flooded with neuro chemicals that directly affected your mood.

This has been studied by Dr Paul Zac, a founding pioneer in the emerging field of neuroeconomics at the university of Massachusetts. He showed hundreds of people an emotional video about the incredibly sad story of a father who won’t play with his little boy Ben as he can’t bear to watch him slowly die of cancer.

Dr. Zac closely monitored the neural activity of hundreds of people who viewed Ben’s story and proved that the emotional video triggered hormonal responses. What’s more he went even further and demonstrated that neuro chemicals not only changed our mood, but changed our behaviour. This is key to understanding how to make what makes a good corporate video.

I’ll let dr zac explain his own findings in this clip. Watch from 01:25 to 03:00

It’s the final point here, that we are changing behaviours by changing brain chemistry, that’s so incredibly important to marketers, to change behaviour we have to make the audience feel something.

To underline how important emotional messages are in business let’s just look at a study conducted by the IPA. The IPA analysed over 1,400 advertising campaigns submitted for the IPA Effectiveness Award competition over the last three decades. They compared campaigns which relied on emotional appeal versus those which used rational persuasion and information.

16% of brands running campaigns with rational messages at their core reported very large profit games. 26% of Brands running emotional and rational messages showed large profit gains, But the real winners were brands that used emotional messaging at the core of corporate adverts with 31% of these companies reporting large brand growth.

Now we live in a complex world and I’ve just oversimplified it, I actually have a whole set of lectures which explain how emotional messaging has to be combined with rational thinking throughout the sales funnel, but for now, just take from this that emotional connections will drive live term brand growth.

If you want to be convinced any further read Byron’s “How Brands Grow”, “The Long and The Short Of It” from the IPA, Daniel Khanamans “Thinking Fast and Slow” or my own book “Video Marketing Strategy” and you will need no further convincing that emotional storytelling is the way to grow your brand.

How do you make a corporate video more interesting?

But, this is a corporate video, I hear you cry. My product is so dry that there is no way I can make people feel anything about it. Well, that’s simply not true. No matter what your product or service, it’s possible to make content that connects emotionally. In section two I’ll be looking at how you do it but for now here’s a film from a brand called Taulia that proves my point… Now, meaning no disrespect to Taulia, their product is insanely dull, unless you happen to find online invoicing software exciting. But they have still found an emotional driver to engage people… and they’ve had some fun along the way. Let’s take a look.

Ok, so in section one, I’ve shown why emotional content connects with us and why this matters to all corporate video production projects including B2B. Now we can dig into how you use it. And, there are three simple steps any brand can take to make their emotional messaging more effective.

Step one is easy. Define Who are you talking to. Now, this short article isn’t the place to go into detail about market segments and personas, but, it’s worth stating that all effective content starts with an understanding of what makes the audience tick. And this is very often something that B2B marketers forget, focusing instead on features and benefits.

The classic things that people include in personas are straight demographics like age, education, social status and profession, but don’t forget that you are talking to a person … not a statistic. Understanding the pressures that your customers face, along with knowing their hopes and dreams will be far more useful than someone’s age. So, to be more effective, revisit your target personas and be more human. What is it that these people are genuinely worried about. As inspiration, think back to the Taulia film which understood that they are talking to an audience that might be worried about losing work to someone more efficient.

Once you have an understanding of your audience, we can move onto step 2 which is emotional drivers.

How to make a successful promotional video

I bang on about these all the time, and emotional drivers are the key to effective brand content. Which levers can you pull to resonate with an audience at an emotional level? This includes their hopes and fears and their goals in life, both public and private. For me, private goals are always more effective than public ones. As an example, assume you’re talking to a medical professional such as a surgeon. Their public goal could well be to give a better treatment to patients, but in private they may actually be motivated by how much kudos they will get if they use a new product, by the desire for a low rate of complications so their publicly viewed results go up, or just that they like to finish work early and get to the golf course. You really have to think it through before planning their medical marketing message.

When I’m running workshops with clients around this I ask brands to think of the things that will make their customers care about or want their product. We start with the optimistic. The things that you would hope your customers care about; saving the planet, making the world better, delivering a better service, all those things.

Next, I ask my clients to be a little more cynical in ‘what benefits do you think your customers want?’ For example, they might want to look great to their boss and get a promotion, they may just want an easy life, or they may just need to keep their job.

Running this simple exercise around the things that actually drive your audience is always an eye-opener for brands, and it always leads to more effective content.

So, now we know who you’re talking to and what makes them tick. Step three is integrating this into your content. To help with this. At Hurricane, we’ve developed a very simple model that we call EFG which is super helpful when structuring content.

EFG stands for emotion, fact and go!. Effective content opens with an emotional message, that is directly linked to the emotional driver of our audience. With a connection made, content can go onto cover some facts, typically we should try to include the lowest quantity of facts needed to persuade the audience of what we are saying. Yes, somewhere in your marketing you need to get into mega detail, especially in B2B, but leave that late in the customer journey. In the early stages make sure you keep to emotional connections and limited facts. Finally content must drive action with a prompt to Go. Which is normally best done by linking back to the emotional driver at the start.

Let’s take a moment to see this structure in action. And for this, I’m going to use a corporate film that hurricane made for Airbus Defence & Space. I’ll talk you through the EFA structure to see how that all fits together. You’ll also get to see where we didn’t get it quite right.

Airbus Defence & Space makes satellites which orbit the earth and take ultra high definition photographs that are used by everyone from farmers and charities to governments and the military. Typically, marketing was around the specification of the satellites and the clarity of the images, but Hurricane were bought in to connect emotionally with audiences. We developed an idea around the emotional driver that people who used the tech wanted to make the world a better place, they didn’t just want great pictures. And after that we built a EFG structure for the film that went like this…

The film starts by connecting with viewers not with technical specifications, but by asking them to consider the challenges faced by the world, and asking how they will do something about them. It poses a huge question about future generations.

Once viewers have been emotionally engaged by seeing a brand that thinks like they do, the film moves into more traditional corporate video territory and runs through a list of facts about the company. Now for me, there are way too many facts, this is one of those occasions when we just couldn’t win over a senior stakeholder and certain things that didn’t need to be included made the cut. Indeed, it’s a useful exercise for you to watch this and think about which facts you could do without, it will help you to avoid the same mistake

Finally, the film ends with rousing imagery that connects the emotional drivers at the start of the film to a call to action. As an interesting note on this, there is only one satellite in this entire film, and it appears very briefly here at the end. Which was a total break from the traditional marketing in the sector and also why the film was so effective.

And there we have it, we started the session by looking at why emotional content works and then we looked at the impact emotional content can have on brand growth. With that out of the way we moved into section 2 and took three simple steps to apply emotional content in B2B brands. Specifically, we looked at the need to understand the personas of who you’re talking and how to develop emotional drivers for your audience. With that done we looked at a simple model for structuring emotion into your content to help brand growth.


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