With a subscriber list of roughly 13.5 million people, Marques Brownlee is YouTube’s top tech reviewer and a trusted industry influencer. Perhaps best known for his in-depth smartphone reviews on his channel, MKBHD, Brownlee has also done video interviews with tech titans such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg.
It’s clear Brownlee isn’t just another tech content creator — he’s the tech content creator. Viewers flock to his videos to gain valuable insight into new tech products and trends. He breaks down topics in a way that most non-tech experts can easily digest, which makes him extremely popular among general audiences.
To create successful brand videos, businesses can stand to learn a thing or two from Brownlee’s video craftsmanship. Here are four ways you can apply the MKBHD blueprint to your own brand.
Tech has long been an obsession for Brownlee. He started MKBHD back in 2009 as a high school student, after doing some YouTube research on which laptop he should buy. After choosing and purchasing a laptop, Brownlee found that some of the reviews he initially watched were missing key details that he would have liked to have known about before making a decision.
“When I finally bought a laptop and saw some stuff with the laptop that I didn’t see in those videos, my natural response was to turn on a webcam, talk about those things, and upload it to YouTube,” Brownlee told The Verge in 2021. “Just in case someone else was watching videos to choose what to buy.”
This situation opened up a largely untapped (at the time) video content lane for Brownlee: sharing detailed tech product reviews. He wanted to tell viewers how good a certain smartphone camera really was or whether the new MacBook was worth its hefty price tag.
You can take a similar approach from a brand perspective when it comes to your own video content. Start by assessing all your immediate competitors and find gaps in their current video content coverage. Then explore what your brand can talk about that addresses those gaps and reaches a relevant niche audience.
“Start by assessing all your immediate competitors and find gaps in their current video content coverage.”
For example, if your company is an e-commerce platform and you realize that your main competitor is focused solely on B2C video content, there could be an opportunity for you to own D2C or B2B video content.
Don’t shy away from creating multiple video content types, either — Brownlee certainly doesn’t. Though he’s still primarily known for his product review videos, Brownlee has gone on to do interviews, first impression videos, and behind-the-scenes videos.
A lot of people trust Brownlee because he comes off as a very reliable tech guide. Part of the reason for that is because he doesn’t center much of his video content around himself. He generally focuses on a specific product or a person he’s talking to and only appears on camera when it’s necessary to provide additional context.
Brownlee’s approach is impressive since it’s easy to get carried away while making video content. Even on-camera personalities that work under brand banners can sometimes make a video about themselves without realizing it. They may take a lengthy detour into a personal story or bluntly share their feelings in an unsolicited way — something Brownlee never does, even though he’s not representing a brand.
Try to lay out the facts, and don’t distract viewers with too much filler. This kind of approach will portray your brand as knowledgeable and helpful.
“Try to lay out the facts, and don’t distract viewers with too much filler.”
Voiceovers are another great way to keep the focus on the subject. Your video’s visuals can show the subject rather than the speaker, and the voiceover can share information that helps viewers understand the topic. There are a number of different voice styles you can use for your brand video script, making this an opportunity to do some experimenting.
Despite being in tech, which can be riddled with complicated ideas, Brownlee is a master of making subjects accessible for general audiences. The way he explains things to viewers feels like a really smart friend trying to help you ace a math test. He doesn’t judge his audience and always explains his reasoning as simply as possible.
A prime example of this in action is Brownlee’s video about the Apple M1 Chip. Computer microchips aren’t traditionally easy to explain, but Brownlee finds a way to make the announcement digestible. He talks about how the chip might impact Mac lovers moving forward and explains the implications of the technology in layman’s terms.
Just because you can explain things using heavy technical jargon doesn’t mean you have to. As a brand, discussing industry insights and information in a simple manner can help new audience members get acquainted with your business and feel like they can relate to you.
“Just because you can explain things using heavy technical jargon doesn’t mean you have to.”
Brownlee also makes his material easy to grasp by only addressing a single concept (product review, interview, first impression, etc.) per video. Like Brownlee, focusing on one idea per video can help your brand deliver clear, concise insights.
Looking for an external example? One brand that passes the single-concept test with flying colors is Moz. Their Whiteboard Friday video series has been a mainstay for the search engine optimization (SEO) software company since 2009. Each episode educates marketers about one SEO concept. It’s designed to be useful for both beginners and more experienced SEO specialists.
Despite his low-key personality and relaxed demeanor, Brownlee is a fantastic promoter. He subtly references other content he’s created in his videos to keep viewers interested and engaged with his channel.
But Brownlee doesn’t just reference other videos at random. Instead, he only mentions them if they’re applicable to the current video he’s doing. For example, he might talk about an iPhone 12 Pro Max and refer to past videos where he reviewed other versions of the phone. That type of seamless promotion can pique a viewer’s interest without making it feel overly self-serving.
Whenever it makes sense to do so, direct viewers to your brand’s video content by adding annotation links in the video itself or leaving a link in the video description. Remember that these mentions need to make sense within the context of the video they appear in. Listing content that is unrelated to the current video won’t result in many clicks.
It’s also worth noting that Brownlee doesn’t normally direct viewers to videos that aren’t a part of his channel. While it’s okay to occasionally direct viewers to a video your brand has collaborated on, you should generally be directing them to videos that you have on your own channels to drive engagement.
At the end of the day, trying different things is all part of the learning process. Brownlee’s videos may feel more engaging and personal than a typical brand video, but that doesn’t mean you can’t emulate his qualities and learn from his success. There are plenty of brands that have already crossed over into producing binge-worthy video content, and there’s no reason your brand can’t evolve as well.