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What is a video production brief and what should it contain?

The video production brief is a document that you can send out to various agencies with the objectives of the project.

They will use that document to pitch against.  There are two key benefits to creating one of these prior to speaking to agencies.

01 – It allows you to really think about what you want the video to help your business with

02 – It means that you receive coherent and succinct proposals from production companies, making your job easier

What are the key things that you need to include?

Background on your business

Agencies pitching for the project need to understand what you do, your background and company culture. If you can distill this in the video production brief then you make it easier for agencies to find the answers they need.

Project objectives

What is it that you want the video to achieve?  An answer like ‘we want this video to increase our sales by 500%” is ridiculous and unreasonable. A production doesn’t have any control over the facets of your business sales process, so this is just unachievable.  Instead the objectives should be something like “after watching the video we would like viewers to subscribe to our free service” or “we want viewers to download our free guide” something tangible and realistic.  Avoid phraseology like “we want people to be better informed on our company” as it isn’t really measurable, and you will be unable to measure your return on investment.

Target audience

It is really important for any agency to understand who they are targeting with the video.  Very often  less experienced production companies will try and construct a script, or message, that hits all your user groups, but more often than not it misses everyone.  Having well defined target audiences outlined in your video production brief will inform the length, style, visuals, script, voiceover artist, tone of voice and mechanism of deployment.  This point is really crucial.

Key messages

We wrote a blog some time ago on how long the ideal video should be, and while there is no good answer to that question, we know where possible it should be 120 seconds or less to retain viewer figures.  120 seconds is approximately 300 words, so rather than trying to cover a heap of points with little detail, pick out some really key points that you want to convey and build the video around them.  If there is no narration on the video of any kind, try and pick out the key visuals that are really important for the viewer to see, so the structure of the video can be designed around this.


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Tone of voice

Does your company have a tone of voice (usually contained within the brand guidelines) for an agency to consider?  If you are a professional service company dealing with high net worth clients, a quirky character animation with a string of jokes might not fit the brand very well.  Equally if you’re a clothing company for kids, a super corporate talking heads video might not set the right tone either.

Brand guidelines

If you have brand guidelines it is really useful to provide these at the outset with the video production brief, or at least an abridged version, as this will help with any suggested styles.

Elements to be included or not

You may have things that you must include in any video, such as legal notifications or logos of partner organisations (very prominent in publicly funded productions).  Make sure this is known early on.   Equally you may have things that just can’t be in a video, such as footage of sensitive areas in a factory or trading floor, or footage of proprietary components or equipment.  Knowing this is good as it can affect the structure and approach of any production.

Deployment

As the video will likely tie into a pre-defined marketing strategy, ensure you know where you want to deploy the video. For example, will it predominantly be pushed out on social media? Or through the website, as part of a direct mail campaign, on loop in reception or on an exhibition stand?  All of these things really matter to how the video is constructed, as they will need a different approach. 

If you have a video for your reception area, or as part of an exhibition stand, you can not rely on sound, therefore having a voiceover or narration is pointless.  If you are going to push it out on social media you need to consider subtitles, as most social feeds are switched to mute as a default option. You may also want to shorten the video to increase viewership.  If you plan on deploying in multiple ways that is absolutely fine, a good agency will create several ‘versions’ in the most efficient way possible so that you maximise impact without restricting usage.

Budget

No one ever wants to reveal this, but trust me, it makes for less time wasted and a better experience for everyone if a budget is stipulated early on.  When we speak to clients we try and get to budget very quickly to make sure everyone’s expectations are aligned.  It takes us approximately 4 – 6 hours to put together a proposal, so we like to know we’re in tandem on budget before we allocate this time.  From your perspective, you also don’t want to waste time on a meeting with production company if the number they come back to you with makes your eyes water!  We wrote a blog on how professional video content is priced up, and while every agency is different this will give you a good benchmark to consider what you are willing to allocate.  Remember that if you have more money, more can be done – either with the production, or in terms of creating multiple versions.  Don’t be afraid to spend, and don’t be afraid to tell prospective agencies.

Timeline

If you have a deadline set it out early.  If you need the video in three days it is likely to be an unrealistic target for many agencies, but if you set out a deadline it allows agencies to run themselves out quickly if they can’t deliver to your timings.  Alternatively you might want to work with a specific company and happy to move your timelines to accommodate them for the quality that you want.  Remember great videos take some time to deliver with a solid process in place, such as ours, so don’t try and rush it – have respect for a measured and considered approach with lots of checks and balances to avoid disappointment, delay and unnecessary cost.

Feedback and decision making

This is a really critical point as it is usually where a project falls apart.  You want to request from the prospective agency their process in terms of a point of contact or a project lead.  You want to stipulate what the process of approval and sign off is at your end as well though, as if the point of contact for the production on a day to day basis within your business is not going to have the final sign off, you need to stipulate this so a caveat can be entered into the terms of business or extra time in the schedule or budget can be allocated for a more complicated feedback loop.

How long should it be?

There is no set length on this, the more detail you provide the better understood the project will be from potential agencies that receive the video production brief. However if you make it too long, it is possible that some key aspects will be missed.  Our suggestion would be around 2-3 pages which keeps it manageable for you to write, and for people to read and understand.  We’d also suggest sending to 3-5 companies as any more might become a little chaotic.

So there you have it, you know how to write a great video production brief to send out to prospective companies to pitch against.  If you have a project you’d like to discuss, or you want some additional guidance in putting a document like this together, please get in touch and we’d be happy to help you.


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