Industry Trends: The Rise of Documentary-Style Videos in Marketing
Documentary-style videos are the latest trend to hit the marketing industry. And we’re not talking a 30-second advertisement, but videos that go into the two-minute mark to tell a story that engages viewers and encourages them to stay until the end. Documentary production has been on the rise as companies have perfected the art of telling their company's story in a condensed amount of time.
The History of Documentary Production Videos
More than 15 years ago, BMW released a video series to promote its brand. While it wasn’t shot in the documentary style, it did signal the shift in companies advertising their products with techniques we associate with the film industry.
What’s interesting is the popularity of documentaries—which has increased from 5% to 18% in releases—has coincided with this latest trend in the video production industry: The corporate documentary. Why are companies going for a more authentic and realistic look in their promotions? Because consumers respond to it.
Think about how viewers react to video testimonials. They’re 40 times more likely to be shared across social media, plus have an 89% effectiveness rating, which emphasizes how people see testimonials as an honest opinion of your business. And it’s not by chance that many documentary video productions feature testimonials.
Documentary production is relatively simple to film and capture as well for production companies. Without needing to focus on high-end graphics, the subject matter is the main focus of documentary production videos and can have a major social impact.
What Makes Documentary Videos Unique?
Documentaries are pretty recognizable. If we popped in a documentary-style video, it’d probably only take you a few seconds to guess you were watching one. So what makes a documentary a documentary? Here are two distinguishable features:
- Conversational: While questions are scripted for documentaries, the answers given are more natural. Interviewees are responding in an honest and authentic way, which viewers recognize. In some cases, people may prepare their responses for a more intentional style. Additionally, since these videos are slightly longer than traditional advertising videos and clips, interviewees are able to give a longer, more thoughtful and drawn-out answer rather than a sentence that is quickly thrown together with just a few words.
- Unconventional: Video productions tend to include multiple takes of scenes, whereas documentary-style productions are filmed in the moment, without any retakes. It’s a bit unconventional, but it contributes to that overall goal of giving an honest depiction of what’s going on right then, right there. This makes the subject matter of the video more authentic as viewers can see an interviewees' complete thought process from start to finish as they answer questions truthfully and authentically.
How the Marketing Industry Uses Documentary-Style Videos
As the marketing industry begins to rely on documentary-style videos more heavily, the benefits of this style of video for marketing products and services becomes more evident. Not only do you have the option to make these documentary-style videos as formal or informal depending on the needs of your video, these types of videos also have the ability to connect human experience with branding, allowing production companies to create a bigger social impact through an emotional connection.
With its unscripted discussions and realistic feel, video production with a documentary style is useful for accomplishing several different goals, including:
- Generating brand awareness
- Building brand loyalty
- Maintaining existing client relationships
- Introducing new services or products
- The ability to be as formal or informal as need be
- Connecting human experience with branding
- Creating an emotional connection
A picture is worth a thousand words. And what is worth even more than a picture? A video. Brand awareness is described by how likely a customer is able to recognize a brand in different situations. A video with a thought-provoking story line and a catchy jingle in the background is more likely to be remembered by consumers than just a picture with a short tag line. Consider hiring a production company that can help you implement a documentary-style video for your next marketing campaign.
When consumers are aware of a brand, they are more likely to become loyal to it. Consider this, if you are in the market for a new vacuum cleaner, you're more likely to pick a brand that you have heard of before rather than a random vacuum cleaner that you have never heard of in your life. And if you end up enjoying the vacuum cleaner you picked out, you're more likely to stick to that brand and buy more products made by it. A documentary-style video can help bring brand names to mind faster and in turn build brand loyalty.
Documentary-style videos not only inform potential customers about new products, they also help maintain existing client relationships. Consumers like to see what the companies they purchase products from are doing outside of just selling them products. Things like creating a positive social impact and giving back to communities are good things for a business to showcase through video, and give current consumers peace-of-mind that they are supporting a company that is in the business to do good.
Of course a documentary-style video does not have to be purely informational on the history of a company. These types of videos can also be effective in introducing a new service or product, especially if the new item has lots of layers that could be better explained through a 2-minute vide.
Although documentaries are traditionally considered to be purely informational, and thus, formal, this is not the case with documentary-style videos in marketing. Depending on the type of company you are, especially if you are one with "fun" products, the video does not have to be formal. Have fun with it and create a video that accurately reflects the nature of your company.
What’s interesting about a corporate documentary is that your story can be just about anything. Church’s Chicken, for instance, created a series about speed drumming, which they connected to their product—chicken—through drumsticks. Connecting human behaviors and experiences with branding helps people remember your story better since it is more relatable.
Lastly, production companies are able to create emotional connections through documentary-style videos, more so than other types of videos. This is because since these videos are traditionally longer, hitting the 2-minute mark compared to a 30-second clip, video producers can build a story behind the message. This story is what gets viewers hooked and feel emotions such as empathy and happiness.
Documentary-Style Video Production Examples
Here are two samples of documentary-style video productions we’ve worked on for clients:
1. Make Global Local: This campaign for the DC Education Fund took on a unique twist by providing the students (who benefited from the fund) an opportunity to travel abroad and tell their unique stories behind the lens.
To help tell this incredible story and reach their ambitious goal, LAI Video proposed a definitive video that captures this experience for prospective students, parents and donors. Tapping into this year’s 8th and 11th grade trips, we invited the students themselves to help tell this story. Each travel group was equipped with a GoPro camera and a “cheat sheet.”
Upon return, the LAI Video team sifted through hours of footage, selecting the best, most creative, most personal clips to help tell the bigger story. We saw them capture smaller moments, like playing soccer with local kids or boarding a plane from the tarmac. Reviewing this footage was learning what was important to these students. This was our filter for what would speak to future students considering these trips.
2. CREF Careers: This documentary-style video is all about connecting with millennials and recruiting new talent to our client’s industry. It contains some scripted instances, but also candid moments that bring that authentic factor to the forefront.
To speak to the younger generation, we knew that we had to be authentic. We decided to intertwine several “day in the life” threads of existing CREF professionals. We worked with MBA and its sponsoring member companies to identity the fresh faces that best embody this new generation. From the guy who has a well-paying job to the gal who wants to travel while maintaining a work-life balance, these personalities invite young viewers to say “hey, that’s me!” or “I could TOTALLY do that.”
During the interview sessions, LAI Video tilted the cameras to achieve a canted or “Dutch” angle. While this type of slant can create a sense of unease or tension, we embraced the technique to empower the subject—to compliment their confident body language with a bold, dynamic angle.
And with 80% of today’s online traffic being for videos, we think it’s safe to say that more trends in the video production industry are bound to come around. Right now, though, documentary video productions are a smart choice when you want a video that resonates and connects with your audience.
Creating Your Next Documentary-Style Video with LAI
Looking to hire a documentary film crew for your company’s next promotional video? Think about bringing our award-winning team of nerds onboard to help you plan, strategize, produce, and deliver your organization's next video—The LAI Video team has a long and proven history of creating documentary-style videos and bringing creative visions to life for various large corporations, associations, non-profits, and academic institutions across the country.
Check out our video portfolio to see more examples of documentary-style video productions we have helped our clients create and deploy in the past.
Ready to get started? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help create your next promotional documentary-style video!
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