Impactful brand storytelling requires more than merely trying to get your message across. It sets out to evoke an emotional response in the viewer. Storytelling with a filmmaker’s approach to video content brings the power of narrative to the next level. And while a compelling clip can capture your audience's attention for a moment, cinematic experiences linger—creating deeper, lasting connections.
Short, swipe-through video clips are everywhere. As a result, audiences are primed for experiences that transcend the 15-second content that is continuously flooding their social feeds. Captivating stories are the secret to stretching attention spans. Viewers will stick around when they find themselves pulled into a scene, rooting for relatable characters that embody facets of our own human experience. Cinematic filmmakers know how to create a rhythm that resonates and a plotline that satisfies, so everyone keeps watching.
Our Hartmann Studios team brings deep experience in film and television production to our storytelling. Successful projects are achieved through an alchemy of essential elements rather than from a step-by-step process. We can produce binge-worthy brand video content because we know it takes time, trust and vision to bring a concept to life for your audiences.
We get deep into the story, partnering with clients to understand their goals and key messaging for the project. Telling rich, layered narratives takes time. Part of our preparation might involve coaching clients to expect five to seven-minute documentaries instead of a more typical two to three-minute corporate video. We’re grateful that the companies we work with recognize that to do these stories justice, they need airtime to breathe.
Bringing a brand to life on film means uncovering the real people whose stories support key points. Finding the right on-camera storytellers involves casting a wide net. The field is full of potential, and often the most poignant messages come from front-line workers rather than top-tier leaders. We collaborate with clients to solicit stories from across the organization, then narrow the standouts to ensure diversity in geography, experience, identity and alignment between their personal account and an overarching theme.
We forge relationships with the subjects whose stories we are bringing to light. Interviews are conducted as conversations that happen on a personal level. We probe for milestones in their experiences and the motivations and challenges they face. These interview transcripts become source material for scripting. We are committed to portray our subjects accurately and in a positive light as we advance the story.
With a cinematic approach, we aim to produce mini movies that take the audience on a journey that maps personal narratives to key message points. But our techniques aren’t cookie-cutter. Once we define the visual style, we consider the environments for interviews and the supporting b-roll. Filming shot after shot inside a bright, static office or retail environment doesn’t offer much atmosphere or interest for an audience. We prefer taking our productions into the streets–perhaps a location where our subject grew up, giving the audience a peek into the personal life-experience that can deepen the lessons of a story.
In one piece we recently produced for a client, the subject’s years enduring a long commute became an anchor theme of the story. We leaned into that opportunity by filming interviews of our central subject in his car. To emphasize how a serious wreck caused our hero to change careers and begin working for our client, we recreated a high speed chase and crash scene using highly stylized footage. With unorthodox camera placement and unique aerial views, we underscored the impact of this moment on our main character.
Audio is also a powerful tool when striving to evoke emotion in viewers. Focusing on the music that serves as the soundtrack can help define the mood and almost serve as a supporting character. In another piece we produced, an R&B tune with great range underscores the main character’s growth. At times, instead of relying solely on interview audio, we also might employ voice-over narration to move the story along with a third party perspective.
Building a team we can trust is the most important factor for overcoming the very real challenges of film production, like time constraints and challenging locations. For example, by establishing clear, open lines of communication, we often create award-winning work without sending a full crew on the road.
We worked on a multi-piece project during the pandemic that engaged five different film crews in cities all across North America. Although each story illustrated a different theme, they would premiere together at a single event and we needed to maintain consistently high-caliber production value and well-defined tone.
Vetting partners who could not only execute the technical aspects but who understood our vision was key. We tapped into our film-maker network to find the right teams and hosted numerous creative calls to ideate and troubleshoot. At times we might have limited opportunities to scout locations, but with extensive research and scripts with robust instructions for visuals we can fill any gaps.
Building trust with subjects and other stakeholders is also critical. This is how authenticity emerges. In instances where our central subject speaks a language other than English, we’ve involved translators on the team. It’s important that people can present their story vividly, in the language that feels most comfortable to them. We adjust for the story, not the other way around.
Coming back to impactful brand storytelling, our mission is to make audiences connect to the narrative. Building tension feeds a desire for the audience to hang in there to discover deeper meaning, and that takes time. We don’t want key takeaways to materialize in the first 10 seconds. Character needs to develop before people can feel an affinity for the central subject, or even see themselves echoed in some way. Building a dramatic arc might mean holding a shot for a few extra seconds to set up the next emotional beat. It will involve finding supporting characters who can layer in details from their own experiences.
Another way we are able to mix up our viewer’s experience involves working with our clients to release videos strategically, so that they deliver the greatest impact. We worked with a major retailer on a series of brand storytelling videos to celebrate their corporate culture.
Telling these stories through individuals whose life experiences embodied company values not only humanized the message, but it also set up a once-in-a-lifetime recognition opportunity.
The client premiered the short documentaries a ta conference, with each film introduced by a high-level leader to an arena packed with thousands of team members. The event was choreographed so that after each fade-out, we held a long pause to let the story sink in. Then, we transitioned to a live camera zoomed in on the central character where they satin the audience. The thunderous applause and standing ovations these individuals received for telling their story was just as moving as the video content. And better yet, each attendee walked away from that event with a stronger, more emotional connection to the brand.
This is the power of video storytelling. It's our best tool to bring people into a culture, to convey layered themes and introduce us to characters we care about. And making it part of your brand’s story will captivate your audience and accelerate results.
Do you need help delivering cinematic storytelling to a global audience? Explore our creative services and schedule a conversation with the Hartmann Studios team.