The Ultimate Guide to Creating Brand Films & Video Testimonials

By now you’re probably well aware of the weight social proof carries.

And one fantastic case study video is worth its weight in gold.

Each video can help potential customers imagine using your product as they see someone who has gone through a similar journey.

But putting together a high converting case study video begins long before the camera rolls.

Picking the Right Customer

A company’s services are not the focal point of a case study, it’s the customer.

First, you need to decide which customer you want to showcase strategically.

Ideally, someone who:

  • has seen drastic improvements in their lives since working with you
  • is comfortable and charismatic in front of a camera
  • can share quantifiable results
  • went through the adoption process of using your product and loves it
  • is in a field (or a complementary one) to your ideal customers

Now, you may be asking, what if the person I’m interviewing doesn’t have any quantifiable results? For example, say your customer is testing out beta software for you and plan to have them talk about how it’s going, but have no data.

This is where the customer you are highlighting will need to shine. You need someone passionate about what they do and are advocates of the product you are highlighting. More than anything else, you're capturing a feeling. And how your product makes their lives easier or just how it fits well into their daily life.  

For production companies shooting case studies for their clients, in your initial meeting gather information like:

  1. Who are they are looking to target and why?
  2. Why do they believe their customers chose their solution?
  3. Why do they think ideal prospects after hearing about their service decide not to work with them?    
  4. What is something surprising a customer says about your team?

Length of Case Studies

Stop before thinking less is more. That’s not always the case.

Instead, consider where the video is being placed. If a case study is on a website, you likely have someone already interested. They’ve read about your service and want to see how what you provide applies to them.

3-5 minute case studies are perfectly fine here.

Videos for Twitter? Not so much. A 20-30 second video testimonial will do just dandy.

Maximize your budget (or for video production companies provide added value to your client!) and plan ahead so you can also shoot proper soundbites for social. After longer answers, tell the person you are interviewing you also are wanting to shoot shorter responses as an alternate take and to summarize what they were saying.

Outlining Your Video Case Study

You’ll need to decide what type of a video case study you are looking to do.

The two most common and effectively used video testimonials are problem solution results interviews (we’ll call ‘em PSRs) and narrative style videos.

PSR Testimonials

PSR videos have a more direct lead than longer narrative-style testimonials. They go straight into the problem/solution/resolution format you see in many written case studies. You'll also see many as a companion piece to a written case study.

Narrative-style Testimonials

Narrative style pieces, sometimes also called brand documentaries, have a more indirect lead. Typically there's less emphasis on KPIs compared to a PSR. Longer narrative brand documentaries are far more reliant on a naturally compelling subject matter like the below video from Videofruit given the greater length.

“Brand documentaries are at their best when understanding the depth of a service or process is paramount,” said Ben Cecil, President of UPG Video.

With a case study video created for 3 Day Startup, Ben’s team followed multiple students throughout the event to fully show the process of launching a prototype over the span of a weekend and what they gained to truly communicate the value of the non-profit.

A brand documentary can be a shorter trailer you may see on the home or about page as an awareness or educational piece. Or it can be a longer film where the number one goal is to stir emotion and inspiration.

For example, if you were creating one for a fertility clinic you are telling it from the perspective of a couple. The emotion you are trying to build in viewers is optimism that they too can have kids.

Prepping the Interviewee

Most people want to be super prepared for an interview, especially those working in corporate. The issue there is if you give every question in advance you’ll end up with something very inauthentic, bordering on an infomercial.

“We will say these are the areas of the questions we will ask you. We're not going in and asking them about something they don't know about. The best case studies happen when someone speaks from the heart,” said Paul Gale, Managing Director of Silicon Pixel.

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You should absolutely though build rapport. Before any onsite interviews, chat with the person you’re shooting so they’ll be far more comfortable when it’s time to film.

During pre-production conversations, you’ll also want to establish their time commitment. The reality is some people see a thirty-second clip of someone talking and assume that’s how long it takes to shoot.

Day of filming, many video producers schedule an hour to two hours per interview. This factors in time making the interviewee comfortable, interviewing, and shooting b-roll that includes them.

You can also ask them for their perspective on what they believe would make for good b-roll and request any measurable results/KPIs they achieved. Then they'll have time to gather stats, and you can delve into their findings during the actual interview.

See Dog, Say Dog

As an old adage in broadcast journalism to produce compelling stories goes: See Dog, Say Dog. Meaning, anytime a reporter starts discussing a subject, all the b-roll visually supports what they're saying.

For longer form narratives you can ensure the b-roll is far more deliberate by first interviewing subjects day of the shoot and then creating a shot list around that. Take note of subjects they discussed for longer and time wise the length they stuck to a topic. Then you not only film b-roll directly relevant to what they’re saying, but you also ensure you have enough b-footage.

If storyboarding helps you, here you can think about not just the shot placement but how long you linger on something, whether it’s a slow slider, and if you want to apply any color grading in post-production. Here take note of any particular b-roll shots you want to capture like one of your interview subject using a specific part of software. Also, keep in mind anything you have to shoot during a particular time of day.

Location Scouting

If you don’t have a chance to scout the location you are shooting a case study testimonial, do a quick walkaround day of before shooting. Create a quick list of things you also want to capture for b-roll and confirm you can shoot at all the places during the day you are looking to film.

Or ask someone that works on location in advance where are the best places to shoot and to take photos on their mobile device to get a better sense of the backdrop for each interview.

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Tips for Being a Better Video Interviewer

Beyond always using open-ended questions (“Can you explain the challenges you were facing before using ‘x’ versus “Were you experiencing problems before using ‘x’?”) let the person you are interviewing talk. Don’t butt in-unless they are doing umms and ughs at which point you can ask to repeat themselves. Or unless they are veering so far off you need to direct the discussion back to the questions you are asking.

But remember it's not a cross-examination, you are still having a conversation with another human being.

You can encourage them to be natural and confident. Show non-verbal cues as you interview including eye contact, open body language, nodding, and smiling while they talk.

Cutting Down on Editing Time

For a three-minute video, you may end up with hours of footage. In addition to logging time codes during a shoot, to reduce editing time you can use Rev.com to transcribe each interview.

And involve in the editing process whoever generated the interview questions. Whether it’s someone on your team or the company you are producing for, share the transcription so they can highlight specific responses.

Once you have done the legwork to pick a brand's hero and made other strategic production choices, there are tons of really amazing tools to measure engagement including Wistia. And many ways to reach your next customers including drip or remarketing campaigns.