This probably won’t come as any surprise, but we think video marketing is a great way to get your brand noticed. And the research backs us up! According to Wyzowl, “Audiences are around 17% more likely to buy a product or service as a result of watching a video ad” as compared to seeing a static ad. That’s pretty significant!
But there’s a catch: As more brands catch on to the effectiveness of video content, the competition for audience attention grows more fierce. According to Wyzowl’s 2021 State of Video Marketing Report, a staggering majority (92%!) of video marketers have seen a recent rise in competition.
So, with that context in mind, how can you make your B2B videos stand out from the crowd? The answer is simple: Get weird.
That’s right — the best way to stand out from the crowd is to create novel videos that are different and will seem unique to your audience. To help you get started, we’ve put together four examples of brands who got a little zany with their B2B marketing, with some tips on how you can do it too!
B2C brands have often used mascots in their campaigns — think Geico’s infamous gecko or quirky Flo from Progressive Insurance. But in the past, B2B brands have been hesitant to do the same. Salesforce does have Astro and the gang, but so far, they haven’t starred in any of the company’s videos.
Cloud-based storage company Wasabi took a chance to stand out by creating “Nate the IT guy” and then featuring him in a series of hilarious musical ads.
In Wasabi’s first video, “Migrate with Nate,” we meet Nate, an IT director with a fancy degree who is begging his bosses to please migrate to the cloud already. The video is catchy and helps Wasabi stand out from the competition — including establishment giant Amazon, which Wasabi explicitly targets in its second video, “Save Up to $400k a Year with Wasabi.”
As a character, Nate is a lot. He swears, he crawls under desks, he sings and dances directly at the camera, he flat out tells his boss the servers suck. By using a strong character like Nate, Wasabi really positions themselves as the cool new kid on the block. They grab people’s attention and stand in direct contrast to more established cloud storage companies with more traditional branding.
Plus, “Migrate with Nate” and “Save Up to $400k a Year with Wasabi” are both really catchy tunes. The music sticks in your head long after you’ve finished listening, which is also great for Wasabi’s brand.
By creating a lively character like Nate and having him appear in multiple videos, Wasabi gives its audience a sense of continuity and ongoing storytelling — viewers are curious to see what the next video will be. They want to see more of Nate and, by extension, Wasabi!
Do you think your B2B brand could benefit from introducing memorable characters? Before you spin up a talking 3D printer or a SaaSy snake (see what we did there?) to represent your company, there are some things you should consider.
It’s important to think about how your character will fit in with the rest of your brand. You should devise a solid plan for your character and consider what parts of your brand in which you’d like the character to appear. Will the character be in your advertising campaigns, support resources, or social media? If your character is in everything, what does that look like? Will that be a huge change that your audience may not understand?
With a recurring character, you’ll need to figure out who owns writing for your character as well as the associated marketing campaigns. If you plan to only have a character around for a short period of time, you’ll also need a retirement plan so that people understand why they were phased out or disappeared.
One way you can approach this method is by creating a sub-branded video series with distinct characters. Take Gear Squad vs. Dr. Boring, for example — Wistia’s original cartoon series for B2B marketers. We created a group of sentient (and scrappy) video gear that springs to life to save marketing from the evil Dr. Boring. These characters only appeared in this context, and we worked with an animation studio with talented writers and designers to make each character unique and consistent throughout the episodes.
Whether you create a character that appears in all of your marketing campaigns or opt for producing an evergreen sub-branded video series, make sure you think through how introducing a character will support your brand goals.
Email marketing platform Mailchimp has a track record of creating binge-worthy content with their internal studio, Mailchimp Presents. Their new animated series, All in a Day’s Work, doesn’t disappoint.
In All in a Day’s Work, Mailchimp uses felted characters and stop motion to show the ups and downs of life as an entrepreneur. In the first episode, a founder attempts to have a serious video call with potential investors from his office — unfortunately, that office is in his parents’ garage, and they didn’t get the memo.
In another episode, a flower shop owner tries to serve her customers and manage her employee’s pollen allergy at the same time. The videos are sweet and light-hearted, but what really makes the show stand out is the use of felted characters and stop motion graphics.
Stop motion always makes for standout visuals — think Coraline, Wallace and Gromit, or Tim Burton’s classic The Nightmare Before Christmas.
This series has no dialogue or voiceover, and the entire story is told visually. The effect is eye-catching, special, and, yes, a little bit weird.
Interested in using visual effects like Mailchimp? While there are many great things about them, visual effects can also be time consuming and resource heavy. Be sure to consider when and why visual effects would help you achieve your video goals.
For example, visual effects are a good choice to elevate your brand and boost your overall brand aesthetic. In our original series, Brandwagon, we created a miniature studio set to shoot sequences with a specialty probe lens for super close-up shots that provided a cinematic look. These sequences played in between video segments and served as interesting transitions within each episode of Brandwagon, while also adding to the show’s overall brand.
If you do want to commit to visual effects, there are tons of different tools at your disposal, from text treatments to incorporating clay. Working through which specific medium would work best for your brand can be a great creative exercise for your team.
Once you know what you want, where can you find folks who could pull off your vision? Our favorite places to find talented creatives are Behance, LinkedIn, and Upwork. With the latter, you can create specific job descriptions with your budget and quickly look through portfolios.
Don’t be afraid to use your own creative network, either! Reach out to places and people you know who have used visual effects successfully to learn more about their creative process and who they worked with.
In B2B printer Vistaprint’s 2021 video ad, an asteroid hits a yoga studio. What will the owner do next?
Because the yoga studio’s owner is resourceful — and uses Vistaprint! — she’s able to quickly rebrand her classes to be hot yoga sessions, with the help of the fiery rock that now sits in the middle of her floor.
We love the creativity here. The imagery in this video is literally out of this world! The whole story revolves around an asteroid that crashes down from outer space. And what business owner can’t relate to having to pivot on the fly?
By using unexpected imagery like this, Vistaprint manages to create a story that’s both memorable and funny in less than 30 seconds.
Incorporating unexpected imagery works best in brand awareness efforts when you’re trying to grab — and hold — people’s attention. On the other hand, it doesn’t work as well in videos further down the funnel, like support videos or product explainers.
To brainstorm opportunities to use unexpected imagery, think about your audience’s pain points and expectations. How does your business solve customers’ problems? Is there a chance perhaps to exaggerate the problem or the solution in your marketing efforts? Using hyperbole can be a good way to come across as unexpected and funny to your audience; just tread lightly, as there can sometimes be a thin line between humor and what your audience may interpret as disingenuous messaging.
Another interesting way to come up with unexpected imagery is to play into a cultural phenomenon or interest, the way Vistaprint focused on a natural disaster-esque scenario.
Consider genres, popular interests, and tropes that already exist. What would be unexpected but still relevant coming from your brand, and would your audience be receptive to the message you’re trying to convey?
Squarespace has a history of using unusual ideas to showcase what they can do. In 2015, the company partnered with celebrity spokesperson Jeff Bridges to create “Dreaming with Jeff,” a website and video commercial showing off the “sleep sounds” Jeff Bridges recorded.
And this strategy continues! In website-building and hosting company Squarespace’s “How To Sell Bathing Baritones” video, a man in a bar tells his friends about his new business idea: opera-themed soaps. A soap opera, if you will!
This video hits the mark by being unique and fun while still keeping things pretty simple. We love the obvious pun work here and are entertained by the appearance of the soaps themselves, which look like screaming faces in a box.
This video is odd and a bit silly without being over-the-top. It’s a great example of a brand embracing what makes them different, but not going so far that they risk alienating their audience.
“How To Sell Bathing Baritones” has gotten over 10 million views and 1.4K likes, which is very, very high for an ad video on YouTube.
If you aim to make your audience grin, try leaning into humor or being irreverent. We completely understand that sometimes being funny is easier said than done, so you might want to consider working with comedy writers or partnering your marketing experts with creative writers.
Another way to delight your audience is by creating moments that are humorous because they’re relatable, which is a great way to keep people engaged. For example, you could show a business owner going through a typical challenge, but let the audience know there’s a solution right in front of the person’s face that they just don’t see yet. Your audience will love feeling like you’re winking at them and they’re in on the joke.
Or, take Squarespace’s approach by leaning on music or another creative art to bring your business ideas forward while making people happy. Few among us wouldn’t welcome more art into our lives!
Lastly, you could make people smile by touching their hearts. Share what’s meaningful to your company and the people who comprise it. Think about what you can highlight about your team that might be endearing to your audience.
With so many B2B videos out there and companies investing more and more in their marketing in general, creating videos that are bold, fun, and just a bit weird is one surefire way to stand out from the pack. Try experimenting with memorable characters, bold visual effects, creative imagery, and humor or puns!
B2B consumers watch hours of video (especially when researching new solutions for their business), so showing them something unusual is one of the best ways to make sure you stand out and make a lasting impression.