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Christos Chrestatos Christos Chrestatos (2 Posts)

Christos Chrestatos brings 12 years of film production experience to Thoughtpusher, Inc. His directorial works include promos for Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, a television pilot for Sony Tri-Star television, and music videos which have been featured in art and culture magazines RES and XLR8R, as well as special screenings at The New Museum in Manhattan. He is in charge of Creative Direction at Thoughtpusher.


Reel Branding: Three Types of Fashion Videos

Reel Branding: Three Types of Fashion Videos

In my last post, I talked a bit about how to decide if video is a worthwhile marketing spend for your brand and in this post we’ll look at the different types of video to help you figure out which is right for your brand.

Video is still taking shape as a medium and people often have wildly different ideas what they’re talking about when the talk about ‘video’. For simplicity’s sake, I often divide video into 3 basic categories with increasing budgets and complexity as you move through them. The most basic are ‘Behind the Scenes’ videos, followed by slightly more involved ‘Video Lookbooks’, and at the high end are ‘Fashion Films’.

In addition to changing budgets, these different formats also serve very different functions and before you spend money on any part of your marketing it’s essential that you know what your goals are and what you need different elements to accomplish. When it comes to video figuring out what ‘type’ you need is the first step.

Behind the Scenes

At the very low end of the production scale are ‘Behind the Scenes’ or BTS videos. These can be filmed on an iPhone and edited on your laptop. They provide content with a minimum of money and without adding any logistical needs to your already busy schedule. Show customers around your workshop and tell them about your inspirations and how your collection came together, or show them what happens on a photo shoot. It’s a great entry level option and if you’re engaging in front a camera, all the better.At the BTS level, raw immediacy is a selling point. Consumers not only forgive poor sound and questionable lighting, they enjoy the feeling that they’re experiencing you and your brand unfiltered. Like a good blog or engaging twitter feed, some brands just have the perfect personality to make this type of content really pay off time and time again. Unfortunately, if you are not one of those brands, the returns on these videos will rapidly diminish.

Lookbook

The mid-range option for video is the video lookbook. As the name suggests it is essentially a lookbook in video form. While there is plenty of room to add personality and creative touches or even work an implied narrative into the finished product, at heart it is a functional document.

Like a standard printed lookbook, the goal is to clearly present your collection’s different looks to potential buyers and editors. What this format lacks in mind bending imagery and grand statements of brand identity, it makes up for in clarity, utility, and low cost.

Not only do video lookbooks require far less in the way of production overhead, they can also piggyback on the production costs that are already being laid out for the print lookbook. At their most basic a video lookbook is simply the fashion shoot brought to life. Because the locations, models, designers, and stylists are already in your marketing budget the added cost of introducing video into your marketing mix can be negligible. It’s a great way to test the waters of video without taking a great risk.

The one caveat that I have mention here is that, as a sales document, you don’t want to cut too many corners. Spending money on a proper photo shoot is one of the best things that a young brand can do to help its sales and if you’re going to add video to the mix you need to make sure that is produced properly as well. Making a bad impression on the people that decide whether or not to buy your product is not good business.

Fashion Film

The top tier of video is the ‘Fashion Film’. They can run in length from 30 second teasers to 10 minutes and beyond. The flexibility of the format allows for a wide range of structural, stylistic, and narrative choices and the budgets are correspondingly varied.

Stylisticly, some brands have embraced stripped down, cinema verite pieces, while others have gone for big budget blockbusters.

Conceptually, some films are mesmerizing studies of form and texture, while some explore a simple conceit. And it wouldn’t be fashion if some weren’t bizarre and confrontational.

As standalone productions, fashion films generally constitute the biggest monetary risk for brands and designers -if you don’t like the end product and neither does your audience, it’s not likely anything else usable will come from your spend. On the other hand, fashion films have the greatest potential to catapult a brand to the next level or to solidify their position at the top.

For many brands, a raw DIY style is a natural fit. For those brands, the production value (in an absolute, more is better, sense) is a secondary concern to the substance of the content itself. What you’re saying and the story that you’re telling is more important than ensuring that every element of the production is spot-on and flawless.

Wrinkles and warts can be a selling point for a brand that embraces rock n’ roll honesty and street level immediacy. For brands that sell glamor and style, things are not so simple. If your brand is aspirational and is positioning itself at the high end of the market, all of your content needs to reflect that attention to detail and be the living embodiment of superior craftsmanship.

 

As mentioned above, it’s possible to take a low budget approach to your fashion film and still come away with amazing content. However, as the last blog post discussed, it’s hard to make video pay off without some decent brand infrastructure in place already and if your low production budget is a reflection of your status as a fledgling brand perhaps your time, money, and effort are better spent shoring up your company’s foundation. Instead of putting out a lot of mixed quality content, put out one or two perfectly executed photo spreads. It’ll have a better chance of getting your brand noticed and it’ll help you get noticed in a good way, not a bad one.

In the next blog post we’ll talk about the importance of consistency of message in tone in all of your marketing and branding.

 

Orginial image created by Roman Soto

If you found this article useful, you may also want to read Albert Cheung’s article on Product Photography Tips!

Posted in: Content Creation

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Using Video: Is Your Brand Ready For It’s Close-Up?

Using Video: Is Your Brand Ready For It’s Close-Up?

After some fits and starts, mostly related to getting consumer behavior and technological capability to line up, video has finally become something that smaller brands can seriously consider. While the moving image has been captivating people for over a century now, only in the past 10 years has the cost dropped sufficiently to make it widely accessible. Only in the last 2 years have the low cost distribution networks and the back-end analytics come along to enable smaller brands to justify spending the money.

As the ‘next big thing’, video remains an opaque, mysterious, and intimidating subject for companies to get their heads around. Hopefully, in this column I’ll be clearing up some of the confusion and helping you make better decisions about video content. Naturally, the first step is to figure out if and when video is even right for your brand.

The elephant in the room of any video discussion is money. Every dollar spent means a little more risk taken and closes off the possibility of spending the money on something else. In light of that reality, making the decision to put something that tends to consume as much money and time as video into your marketing mix is definitely one not made lightly. Unless you’re a major national brand, video will be a sizable investment. The Ralph Laurens and Pradas of this world can experiment with 50K worth of marketing, but even mid-tier brands need to ask themselves some important questions before they write a check for a fraction of that amount.

So when does a brand decide that now is the time to pull the trigger on a video? 

There’s no single answer, but video usually makes the most sense for a brand that’s looking for something to help them step up to the next level. There are two basic and closely connected reasons, one is the size of the potential upside to your marketing investment and the other is the marketing and brand infrastructure necessary to make that investment pay off.

Once you have the marketing budget, the real question becomes can you get enough value from the exposure the video will generate to justify the expense?

As a piece of content, the size of the potential upside is in many ways tied to the quality of the marketing infrastructure that you’ll be using to get that content out into the world. We’ll get into more detail about that shortly. However, much of the payoff from a successful marketing campaign has a lot to do with the nuts and bolts concerns of your business. Do you have the production capacity to meet increased demand? Do you have access to the capital needed to produce more product? This is not to suggest that one video will send sales skyrocketing, merely to point out that before you start thinking about spending money on a serious marketing effort you had better be sure you’re ready to deal with the business you hope to get from it.

On a more practical level, it’s rare for a brand to go from nothing to smash hit overnight. More often, brands slowly build a loyal following before leaping to general popularity. While frustratingly slow at times, the reality is that brands need to generate a base level of awareness before you can expect to gain the attention of the public at large. Does your brand have enough of a presence to build off of that any content you put out there will get noticed? If you push content out before you’ve established yourself and given magazines and blogs a reason to cover it and people a reason to share it, it’ll be difficult for that content to reach a large enough audience to pay off. There are, of course, notable exceptions to this rule, but you’re better off planning for the long haul.

If you are at this point, the quality of your marketing infrastructure becomes a major factor. Without a presence on platforms like facebook and twitter to share the content, an engaged audience to consume and share it, and a sales force to turn traffic into cash, even the best produced content becomes wasted money.

Thankfully, the current state of internet marketing has lowered the cost of establishing this sort of infrastructure, but it needs to be in place none the less. Whether we’re talking about a Twitter and Facebook campaign, looping your video on iPads at your pop-up shop, or both, there are a lot of ways to get your branded content out into the world and you need to have a plan to make sure that happens before shooting even starts.

In summary, video can take brands to the next level, but not before they’re ready to go there.

Image created by Yuliya Libkina

Posted in: Content Creation, Digital Marketing

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