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How to Amplify Brand Awareness on a Budget with Character-Driven Video [Video Influencer Interview]

Read Time: 4 minutes

When marketers work for giants like Nike, Walmart, or Apple — finding ways to amplify brand awareness is the least of their worries. Heck, those guys could make a video commercial full of generic stock footage, slap their logo to the end screen, and they’ll get crowds of people clapping, cheering, and wiping tears from their cheeks!

But if a marketer is struggling to gain brand awareness and connect with their audience, it can be an uphill battle gaining that recognition. The challenge is to foster an emotional connection with the audience, and leave an everlasting impression that not only leads them to the product — but sticks with them for the long haul.

To get your viewers to sit up and notice your video content, we’re here to guide you toward building brand awareness on a shoestring using a character-driven approach.

To bring you into the realm of storytelling, our Chief Evangelist, Renee Teeley, had a powwow with Harmon Brothers‘ CEO, Benton Crane, all about how to create and tell legendary tales that will melt the hearts of your viewers (in a good way). Hint: It’s all about the Hero’s Journey. Let’s explore!

Enter Stage Left: A Character-Driven Approach

If you were to think about what Disney, Geiko, and McDonald’s have in common, chances are it may not come to you automatically at first. The truth is though, each of these brands for decades has recreated emotional triggers for their customers through their iconic mascots.  

Mickey Mouse, the Geiko gecko, and Ronald McDonald are more than just animations or actors in clown suits. Creating a character-driven approach to your video marketing has a way of allowing viewers to tap into the empathy nugget of our brains (technically called the supramarginal gyrus), that intertwines the emotions of the characters we’re watching with our own.

Take for example this ad for Purple, by Harmon Brothers, where they hired your (or at least my) favorite bedtime story heroine, my girl Goldilocks!

Sorry if that made you laugh out loud at your office desk. Throughout the video, you might have found yourself staring at the screen, feeling for Goldilocks until she finds the Purple mattress that for her — and well, you — is juuuuusst right.

Now here’s a little challenge for you. Tonight when you go to sleep, try not to think about our gal Goldi. Characters have a magical way of making the messages we send out just stick in the minds of others. But picking a character that will help you tell, spread, and instill a message in your audience’ hearts is only the half of battle. That’s because a character is only as good as the story they help to tell.

A Tale of Multiple Methods

In the Purple example, the story of Goldilocks is already ingrained in us. In many ways, knowing the character ahead of time makes us feel like we already have the inside scoop on what’s going down. Leveraging a familiar character like that allows we viewers to fill in the gaps of the story while we watch, making us co-storytellers as the video unfolds.

Even without playing into childhood tales and legends, implementing a storytelling structure is key to getting viewers to want to follow along, build intrigue, and increase video retention rates. But which storytelling approach is right for you?

Well, that’s a bit of a sticky question, because the storytelling method you use will need to be aligned with the goals you’re looking to achieve with your audience. No matter how the story is configured, each story needs a hero character.

(We love this infographic to help you understand which storyline helps you deliver your message best!)

Best Practices: Luke Vs. Obi-Wan

Now it’s easy to fall into the trap thinking that you (as the company) are the hero. After all, it is your product or service that saves the day after all. In reality, the viewer won’t care about you being the hero. They want to feel that they’re the hero. But if that’s the case, what part does that leave you to play?

In the Hero’s Journey model of storytelling, we usually have two main characters: the Hero and the Guide. Think of it as Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Now, I may not be a Star Wars fanatic, but this much I know: Luke, is undoubtedly the hero and Obi-Wan, the guide. Taking this structure, in your video, your prospects play the hero role, and you are their guides — handing over tools, skills, and wisdom they’ll need to accomplish their goals. Create videos that put your customers center stage and guide them on the adventure of finding your product or service and becoming the legend that uses it to save the day!

The Budget Bit

Budget is never easy or comfortable to talk about, so I’ll make this quick. Sure, Harmon Bros probably invested a lot in that Goldilocks video (just think of all those eggs!). The basic principle of storytelling, though, requires no budget.

One of the easiest ways to make a marketing video using the Hero’s Journey is through testimonials. Every company, no matter big or small, has its patrons and power users. They each have a unique story about what their world looked like without you, how they came to know your name, and why now they can’t imagine life without you. If you ask them, most likely they’ll be happy to send you a video of themselves telling their story. This method offers a double win:

1) It turns proud users into even prouder ambassadors and,

2) showcases characters (I mean people) to audiences at the top of the funnel who are similar to their buyer persona, and have been changed by your product.     

Voyage Must-Haves

When it comes to amplifying brand awareness on a budget, the key is to use one of our most basic and fundamental human characteristics — storytelling — to make your video viewers into heroes and guide them through their journey to victory.

To learn more about how to create that campfire experience for your viewers with the Hero’s Journey, be sure to check out Episode 5 of the #MakeItAwesome Show where Renee Teeley gets chatting with Benton Crane (CEO of Harmon Brothers) on mastering the art of video storytelling.

What’s YOUR Story?

Got any of your own tips for video marketing storytelling? Let us know in the comments below or on YouTube. Last but not least, don’t forget to subscribe to Powtoon’s YouTube channel for more episodes of the #MakeItAwesome Show and more awesome content from the Powtoon team!

Stay Awesome!

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Shoshi Davis

Shoshi joined Powtoon as a Marketing Assistant. To read more of her stuff, you can find her content on Upwork and Business 2 Community talking all things inbound marketing for SaaS. After only 2 weeks at Powtoon, Shoshi was dubbed by the marketing team as having the superpower of "Unbridled Enthusiasm." So that was pretty cool.
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