5 common mistakes that will kill your brand video.

And what to do instead.

Monika Sieminska
6 min readOct 27, 2021
Video by Space Jackets

Brand video, campaign spot, explainer animation, brand film, ad… however you call it, almost every brand will need one (or more) at some point. I could write a whole article about WHY brands need videos, but for now please Google it if you’re not convinced yet.

Once you’ve decided to invest some cash in a video for your brand, you want it to be remarkable. That doesn’t only mean that it’s looking amazing or it has a lot of likes on social media. You want that video to WORK. Effective video can mean different things depending on your goal, from driving sales or awareness to winning the next round of funding to turning your customers into raving fans. You’ll want to achieve this goal, otherwise instead of an investment your beautiful film will equal money thrown down the drain.

I’ve seen this scenario happen so many times (especially back when I was freelancing in advertising agencies ), that I decided to write a little guide of which mistakes to avoid during the video production process. Because no one likes waste (unless it’s compostable).

So, without further ado, your brand video won’t work if:

1. It’s too long

The longer the video is, the smaller chance people will watch it till the end. Our watching habits change quickly and attention spans shrink. So if you want your audience to reach that call to action at the end, keep it short and sweet. Otherwise they will scroll down, switch the browser tab or simply look away.

How long should the whole thing be? Research is being done every year to check how much attention the audience is willing to spend on video on popular social media platforms (good article about this here). But we need to bear in mind that people are not that eager to watch brand films as opposed to stories posted by their friends (cat videos anyone?). Thus the shorter the better.

From my own experience here are the lengths I’d recommend:
For the social media animation, make it ultra short, there is very little chance people will watch anything above 15 seconds.
If it’s an explainer going on your website, then 1 minute is plenty.
If it’s part of the presentation where your audience is sitting with you in the same room, then you can make it longer as there is less competition for their attention. But make it longer than 2 minutes and they might start peeking at their phones.

If these lengths sound scary to you (how will I say everything I want in such a short amount of time?), fear not. You don’t have to say everything to make your audience do something. But if you absolutely feel like there’s more to say than you can squeeze in a short video, make a few short ones instead. Who doesn’t like to binge on addictive series?

2. It’s egocentric

I hate to break it to you, but your audience doesn’t care about your brand. At all. They care about themselves or the things that really interest them. So if you were hoping to talk about your product, brand or worse, the founder, it won’t work.

Ditch the egocentric point of view and employ some empathy towards your audience. What goals will your product help THEM achieve? How would investing in your company make THEM feel? What problems would THEY solve for the world, with your help? Who are you helping THEM become? Once you figure this out then you can put your viewer right in the middle of your story as a real hero and take it from there.

Some words that signal your story is egocentric include: using the pronoun “we” a lot (it’s about “you” instead), plenty of adjectives (that describe the brand/product — use verbs instead), buzzwords and jargon (you want your audience to understand you without Googling stuff).

3. There’s no story

I believe there is a captivating story to craft for every brand, about every subject. But somehow many videos end up being animated versions of powerpoint presentations, explaining facts and figures that the author deemed important. Research shows that our brains are wired for story and if we wrap our message in a good plot then it will be remembered much better than pure facts. Information alone can rarely influence anyone to change or do anything, yet some brands clearly don’t believe it and keep sharing boring bits.

If you really want to put the audience to sleep and make them forget your brand asap, then this is the way to go. Otherwise get some help crafting a short story with characters, emotions and a plot following a dramatic arc. You’ll get your point across easier this way and there’s even a chance someone will remember your message and share it further.

4. It starts on the wrong foot

If you can’t inspire your audience and make them curious in the first few seconds, chances are you never will. They will simply switch attention to something else. The beginning is absolutely crucial to the success of your video. Yet many brands waste it for scenes like an animated logo (leave it till the end), an intro about the company credentials (“Since 2011 we’ve been doing bla bla bla…”), or some beautiful shots to set the mood. You have to start with a bang, so people get excited and get that dopamine rush.

Another mistake that I see a lot in brand videos, and this one is less obvious, is that a lot of them start by presenting a problem. It’s a classic approach to storytelling but for the short videos in a highly competitive online environment it often doesn’t work. If you start with problems, it sets a pessimistic tone to your video and the viewer is more likely to drop off before hearing about the solution. It’s especially true if you’re talking about dealing with some big issues like climate change, as people are anxious and tired of listening to doom and gloom stories. But flip the order around, start with a hint on how you’ll help your customer solve her exact problem or help her to save the world and the audience will keep their eyes peeled for more.

5. There’s no strategy

Ok, I saved this mistake till the end because it’s not really a part of a video production, but it should probably be the number one. Often people behind the brands, especially startups, know perfectly WHAT they are doing and WHY, but they have little idea about WHO they are doing it for. And if you don’t know who you’re talking to then there’s no way for your video to help you reach your goals. The target audience determines the HOW of your brand film: the story, the tone, the visual side of the video, where it’s gonna be shown and much more. So if you haven’t done your homework, before thinking about the video think about the people you want to reach and influence. You might even reach the conclusion that you don’t need a video at all at this point!

Another situation that can sabotage video is when there are too many stakeholders with different ideas. It usually goes like this: at first the plan/strategy is there, we start the production and suddenly new people within the brand join in to give feedback on the video in progress. It turns out, each of them has a slightly different point of view and feels that different aspects of the video are more important. This can stall the production process, make it costly and finally change a potentially great brand video into a mediocre one that tries to please everyone.

That’s why it’s super important to align all the people within the brand that will have any say in the video (CEO included) before starting the video production. At Space Jackets we do it during sprint workshops that serve as a compass for our creative work. Depending on how much you’ve got your brand figured out, it can be a short 2 hour story sprint to get the team aligned or a few longer brand strategy sessions if the company is at the beginning of their branding and storytelling journey. It saves time, money and stress. And it’s a fun thing to do too!

So there you have it, a list of things to avoid when producing a brand video. Would you add anything else? I’ll happily dive a bit deeper into the solutions to these problems — so if you want to read more, let me know!

To have a look at our latest videos visit www.spacejackets.co



Monika Sieminska

Co-Founder, Art Director, Animator, Storyteller and Facilitator. Believes in the power of stories to change the world.