Oh video, why do you bore me so?

I seem to be watching a lot of instructional videos online lately — mostly about how to navigate a new feature on a website or use a web-based application — and I have been surprised by how few companies are using video content as a branding opportunity. In fact, most of the videos I see run counter to the brand. They are long, dull, and a waste of time. No company is trying to position themselves as boring and useless.

If a company has designed a strong user experience, their feature or application should be pretty intuitive. Intuitive design eliminates the need for a lengthy tutorial. The company is telling me their product will save me time and resources, and then they suggest I watch a 15-minute tutorial where I look at a cursor on a screen click things while someone drones on in an unscripted, step-by-step narration of the clicking.

Done well, a video tutorial can give explicit information about how to use a tool, while also communicating the value the brand promises to deliver in a way that will engage and build connection — all in two minutes. If after watching the first 15 seconds, I decide it would be faster to scroll through a written guide, you have missed a huge opportunity. You’ve got me where you want me, ready to adopt your product and willing to learn how to use it. This is your moment to lock it in.

High-end production isn’t necessary to communicate a positive brand experience. A screen cast is an inexpensive and highly effective way to teach someone how to navigate a web-based application. My argument is that it can be informative while also demonstrating the personality of a brand. We aren’t married yet. You still need to impress me. Use a script. Incorporate the tone and messaging of your brand. Keep it short and simple. Validate my decision to use the product and make me feel like part of your club. The cool club, not the boring one.