When Brands Get Up and Dance

How multimedia is forcing brands to reconsider their identity

As a professional marketer or business owner, you know what your brand looks like on your letterhead or the side of your building. But do you know what your brand sounds like? What it looks like in three dimensions? How it moves? Do you know what your brand looks like when it shakes its booty?

As a professional marketer or business owner, you know what your brand looks like on your letterhead or the side of your building. But do you know what your brand sounds like? What it looks like in three dimensions? How it moves? Do you know what your brand looks like when it shakes its booty?

As consumers’ attention spans continue to dwindle, it’s more important than ever to take full advantage of this limited window of opportunity to connect with your customers. This is one of the many reasons that smart brands are turning to multimedia—an approach that is proven to be more engaging and compelling than static media alone.

Multimedia is nothing new. Countless companies have used a variety of marketing vehicles to help sell products and services for decades. In the 1950s animated TV commercials featured a Mr. Clean who, “in less than a minute” would “clean your whole house and everything that’s in it!” Over the years Mr. Clean has been animated, heard on radio commercials, appeared online and was even portrayed by an actor in a series of rather odd live action commercials in the ‘60s.

In a similar vein, the Jolly Green Giant has been selling Green Giant vegetables since the 1930s. He’s been brought to life with live action, traditional animation and stop-motion animation. It’s a testament to the power of multimedia advertising that you probably heard, “Ho, Ho, Ho, Greeeen Giant” in your head as you read this.

Every brand can benefit from adding multimedia into its marketing mix, not just consumer packaged goods. The results speak for themselves:

  • Video embedded in email increases click through rates by 200-300%.
  • Including video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80%.
  • 96% of B2B organizations utilize multimedia in their marketing campaigns—of which 73% report positive ROI.
  • 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

The benefits of multimedia are clear, but many brands are still stuck in the traditional marketing space of print ads, brochures and static executions. How do you even start to bring life to your static brand?

Getting started with multimedia

PSS Innovations is a Cleveland, OH based manufacturer of roadside safety products such as traffic barrels, ADA-compliant ramps and portable rumble strips. The brand first considered adding multimedia, specifically video, to its mix in 2006. “Video wasn’t a new medium at all—but it was new to us,” said William Jamieson, Marketing Manager for the brand. “We filmed our first video at our engineer’s home. We quickly learned that if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a minute of video is worth 5,000+ words.”

As PSS Innovations jumped into the multimedia world, it had to figure out how to depict the brand using multimedia. What does the brand sound like? How does it move? In the span of just a few videos a clear “PSS voice” began to develop, both in terms of the pace and phrasing of the narration, and the literal voice itself.

“We use the same narrator in all our videos,” Jamieson explained. “His voice is perfect to represent our audience and the harsh environments they work in.”

Along with the voice, PSS developed a distinctive look and feel for its videos. Big, colorful graphics and text interact with the on-screen environment, graphical elements animate on and off the screen against a background of driving rock music. This combination of text, sound and action helps grab the viewer’s attention and conveys the company’s dynamic personality. This approach also allows the videos to be used at trade shows where the voice-over might be drowned out by crowd noise.

Making multimedia work for your brand

Like any marketing tool, it’s important to use multimedia elements correctly. Scott Borhauer, E-commerce, Marketing & Communications Manager for FP International, based in Thornton, IL, points out that there are two critical elements to making a multimedia approach work: “Know your audience and present your brand in a way that connects with your audience.”

FP International manufactures innovative protective packaging products and packaging systems for commercial and ship-from-store operations. The company has used several multimedia approaches, notably video, photography and illustration, to drive engagement with its different audience segments. However, Borhauer knows that flashy executions in and of themselves aren’t enough to connect with customers.

“Don’t become stale,” he advises. “Change it up. Stay inside your style but offer different options. Pay attention to the details, be relevant, don’t waste time, get to your point.”

Also consider how multimedia elements can be extended beyond their original application. Returning to multimedia’s application at trade shows, Jamieson relates, “[Multimedia is] really important for our trade show marketing. We feature our videos at 30 to 40 trade shows every year. We use them to draw people into the booth, knowing that we only have five to 10 seconds to do that. So, a big message, simply stated, through action not words, is what we’re after in a video. Convey the benefits of that particular product as simply as possible. Show, don’t tell, as my writing teachers always stressed. Don’t get bogged down with minutiae.”

Seeing the results

Adding multimedia into the mix requires marketers to be diligent in how a brand moves, talks, sounds and appears. Consistency, as with any marketing approach, helps build awareness and loyalty.

“Everything needs to be consistent so the consumer feels they are engaging with the same brand, regardless of the platform,” says Colette Jones, VP of Marketing for Destination Cleveland, the convention and visitors bureau for the Greater Cleveland region. “A consistent look, feel and tone cements who we are in the minds of our consumers.”

Jones also recommends multimedia approaches for messaging designed to create those deeper connections. “Another aspect to consider is the level of inspiration we’re trying to elicit. Audio can significantly influence the emotional experience of visual media. The more emotional and inspiring the message, the more important multimedia becomes.”

For this reason today’s brand guideline documents are more than colors, typefaces and photography styles; they may include detailed instructions on how photography is to be staged, how video is to be shot, how animation should be structured, the style of music to be used and so on. It may seem burdensome to attempt to anticipate every method that might be used to bring your brand to life, but a little extra effort now can pay off big with your audience.

“Video has helped us reach more people,” Borhauer said. “[It’s] easy to consume, interesting to watch and never boring.” FP International uses multimedia as a critical aspect of its social media strategy, leveraging boosted posts to a tightly targeted audience. “We are telling an on-point story with a direct message that requires thought, engagement and a response. Our online impressions are up 300% when running these videos. The analytics support the use of multimedia, it is what people want.”

The analytics support the use of multimedia, it is what people want.

Jamieson expresses another valuable application of multimedia. “Through multimedia, we can launch and continue to promote products much faster and better than in print, or even some digital content,” he said.

Finally, Borhauer has some direct advice to any brand who isn’t using multimedia as a part of its marketing.

“If you have not done this, it is TIME; the analytics are OFF THE CHART. Get your message online with video, animation, podcasts, your customers are everywhere, speak to them on the platform where they like to consume information.”

If you’re just now expanding your marketing efforts to include multimedia or if you’ve been doing it for years, it’s important to make sure that your brand is being accurately portrayed whether it’s audio, animated video, live action video, a virtual reality environment or some new technology yet to be invented. Take the time to strategically consider how these elements and you can be confident that when your brand gets up to dance, it won’t step on anyone’s feet.

Listen to Our Podcast Episode on How Your Brand Can Come to Life with Multimedia
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