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Long Form Video and Brand Building

Posted by Andrea Keating on July 22, 2019

In the digital age, we’re often led to believe that audience attention spans are at an all time low. Which means articles are written shorter and simpler, eCommerce retail platforms have seconds to attract customers, and there’s certainly no room for long form video.

And while that might be true for social media posts, Instagram story snippets, and many successful video productions – short form content is not the only route to go in brand building. In fact, plenty of brands balance their video output for engagement efforts, with many leaning completely into long form video as regular content.

What is Long Form Video?

But what exactly constitutes long form video? Before we get too far, let’s establish a rough definition for what qualifies as long form video. For the purposes of this article, long form video refers to videos that have a longer run time than the average video durations on a given platform.

Usually when talking about long form video as it pertains to specific brands, we think of more internet-based distribution channels like Youtube. And given that the average length of a Youtube video is about 4 minutes (often with the “marketing suggestion” of staying around 2-3 minutes), we’ll consider any video within the 8-10 minute or longer range as long form.

But how exactly can long form video affect the brand building efforts of a company? It seems like more work, and generally bucks the trends of what we’re led to believe about audience interest and engagement.

Camera operator shooting long form video at sunset.

How Long Form Video Affects Brand Growth

Think for a moment how video storytelling has evolved in just the last few years. In lieu of big motion pictures, some of the biggest cultural touchstones in media have been through prestige television programs (Game of Thrones or Stranger Things come to mind). And upon closer inspection, it’s easy to understand why.

It might seem strange to compare a twelve episode, hour-long series to a standard summer block buster. But the glaring difference? Time. Think 12 hours to develop story, characters, and build a strong connection with audiences, versus a rushed 2 hour movie.

The same could be said for branded efforts. Simply put, long form video gives brands the opportunity to explore the types of stories and content they truly want to pursue, while also creating the potential for deeper, more meaningful audience connection.

Now that’s not to say that shorter form content should be abandoned, or that long form video is superior in every way. Balance always comes into play. But it’s hard to deny the potential long form video has to engage and inspire audiences in completely different ways.

Types of Long Form Video

Long form video as a brand building effort isn’t new. The market is seeing a bit of a shift, especially in the capabilities of social media and video hosting platforms. Studies show that Youtube’s algorithm has quietly pushed users towards longer form video, and it’s hard to ignore the impact of Instagram’s expanded IGTV platform as a social video-hosting hub for long form video and live streams.

The types of long form video your brand pursues will entirely depend on your specific industry and the type of audience you’re seeking. You know your company, products, and services better than anyone – your video content should reflect that same level of insight.

Some types of long form video your brand might utilize includes: 

  • Documentary-style stories that tie into your product or company backstory
  • Film and livestream events, webinars, or podcasts (if applicable) to utilize as distributable content
  • Short fiction films that entertain and inform
  • TED talk style educational videos with company leaders
  • Long form behind the scenes looks

One of the great advantages of long form video is how much it opens the door for new creative possibilities. Your brand won’t be tied down by restrictive run times. And you may find it easier to take more chances on those ambitious marketing campaigns.

Examples of Brands Using Long Form Video

A little inspiration can definitely go a long way (around 10 minutes plus long, that is!). And today, some of the biggest, most recognizable brands are leveraging time, budgeting, and creative efforts towards longer video content. And what do the results look like?

Patagonia

Patagonia is one of the most popular outdoor apparel and equipment brands on the market. And while you’re just as likely to find the logo on a college campus, the brand is definitely heavily rooted in its outdoor enthusiast lifestyle. In recent years, the company has shifted a bulk of its media to focus on long form video content, with many clocking in from 8-15+ minutes, with full length features as long as 30 minutes or more!

The opening of the above video alone boasts greater production value than some professional films that aren’t tied to a brand. It even has a serious-sounding title (unlike any commercial), “Close to Home.”  The cinematography is gorgeous, perfectly encapsulating the types of exploration and amazing scenery one might find while adventuring with Patagonia.

But beyond product placement and sweeping scenic shots, the short film sets out to tell a real story. One that audiences might invest in regardless of if they plan on hiking in the next year or not. And that builds a level of trust and appreciation for a brand. One that refuses to “sell” a lifestyle, but honestly portrays it.

Nike

Nike also offers a documentary-style approach to the branded long form video category. But it’s important to note that this video is clocking in at over 40 minutes in length (with over 50,000 views in just two weeks)! That’s pretty astounding, even for an innovative brand like Nike.

Here we see them capitalizing on the recent buzz around the Women’s World Cup. But it also explores how the passion for sport is changing the lives of young women and their communities. Again, long form video gives brands the opportunity to explore themes and issues that are “bigger than [insert company name],” while still producing content through a brand-specific lens.

It’s rare to see this kind of production value, this kind of time to develop and tell powerful stories, and this kind of opportunity to utilize the creativity of filmmakers and production specialists for content that isn’t a feature film or documentary.

Final Thoughts

New and emerging video hosting platforms have made it possible to expand the scope of who can produce and share quality videos. While long form video isn’t necessarily new, the space for brands to explore how it can tell intriguing stories and better engage with their audience make it an exciting time for companies in any space.

Consider your company and the advantages long form video could have for your brand building efforts. It might not be for every business. But don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities to tell your story in a new, innovative way.

And when you’re ready to begin your next production, give us a call! At Crews Control, we have over 30 years of experience in digital storytelling and can help you take your brand building to the next level. From first cut to the final edits, you’ll work with the best creative minds worldwide. It’s time to execute your next branded content video project every step of the way.

And with the right video content in place, you’ll establish connections that lead to long term growth and brand loyalty. Don’t wait, start your creative journey here!

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