The Ultimate List of Videos to Inspire Your Visual Storytelling
Marketers are buzzing about the importance of visual content – photos, infographics and videos are key to telling your brand’s story. As video’s role climbs the charts (79% of marketers say the importance of video will increase in the future), you might need a little inspiration for your video marketing.
That’s why we’ve compiled the ultimate list of 21 videos to inspire your visual storytelling.
These videos will make you laugh, cry, cheer, and, most importantly, think about the stories your own organization has to tell.
We’ve broken the list into groups, so you can jump around to the videos that fit your brand:
- The Heart Warmers
- The Comedians
- The Game Changers
- The Team Players
- The Fundamentalists
- The Risk Takers
But don’t back your brand into a corner – you might be funnier or more thoughtful than you think. Grab some popcorn, hit play, and start envisioning the stories you want to add to your own video library!
The Heart Warmers
These are the videos that will pull at your heartstrings. Compelling characters. Sweet stories. Moving music. Keep a tissue handy.
1. Artifact Uprising
Just try to get to the end of this video without welling up with tears. 95 year-old Joe Bucholt is a relatable, genuine character. His story of leaving a simple, heartfelt legacy for his children and grandchildren creates a real emotional connection with the audience.
Plus, Artifact Uprising, the photo book company Joe is using to leave a legacy for his family, leaves out a sales pitch. As our CEO Andrew Fingerman says, “this is how you break through in an era when nobody wants to be marketed to anymore.”
The Takeaway: A genuine story without a sales pitch can pull at the heartstrings better than any ad (and in the end, your customers will love you for it).
Dove Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think
Dove has established a reputation for producing inspiring content, but Dove Real Beauty Sketches took inspiring to a whole new level – and ranked the most viral ad video of all time. Perhaps the video was so popular because its lovely theme resonates with all of us: we are more beautiful than we see ourselves.
The Takeaway: Highlight a heartwarming idea that has universal appeal.
Meet the Makers | Shubham Banerjee & Intel Edison
Shubham Banerjee’s story seems more like a story you’d see on CBS Sunday Morning rather than Intel‘s Youtube channel. Combine that with a high production value and a moving soundtrack, and you completely forget this is a video produced by a brand.
With the Meet the Makers series, Intel shares success stories of people who made a difference. The Makers are the heroes. Intel’s products might’ve helped them along the way, but Intel is not the hero.
And here’s the kicker: the tagline at the end of the video is, “What will you make?” Now, after feeling inspired by how 8th grader Shubham Banerjee created an affordable braille printer and opened doors for more people to read, you realize you, too, can make a difference. Thank you, Intel! I will indeed go out and create a better world today.
The Takeaway: Celebrate the heroes (not your brand).
With wit, creativity and superstars, these are the videos that will make you laugh.
First Moon Party
How do you talk about a subject no one wants to talk about? HelloFlo does it with unabashed hilarity. HelloFlo delivers monthly packages of feminine hygiene products, right when you need them (as illustrated in yet another hilarious HelloFlo video, The Camp Gyno). The brand’s personality and sense of humor carry over into all of their promotions and content.
We can’t change biology but we can make it more fun. – HelloFlo
This video will make you laugh, cringe and see why the brand’s Period Starter Kit is a fantastic idea. To quote the mom in the video, “Mic. Drop.”
The Takeaway: Tackle a touchy topic with a sense of humor.
“How can I help you? What’s your name? What’s the last four of your social?” When a guy in a beanie is crooning opening lyrics like that, you know this is going to be amusing. Zendesk‘s take on MTV’s Making the Band is entertaining, clever and effective. The brand launched the video when they found “Zendesk alternative” was a popular search term. The video helped Zendesk rank #1 for “Zendesk alternative” in Google’s ranking, and win over customers and potential customers.
The Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at the marketplace.
Football On Your Phone – Manning Brothers Music Video
Peyton Manning has a proven comedy track record. Not only was it a safe bet that he could carry an absurd music video, but with a little help from his brother Eli and his dad, this DIRECTV video was sure to charm any football fan.
The Takeaway: The right influencer + a hilarious concept = comedic gold.
The Game Changers
From bringing clean water to Ethiopia to challenging society’s idea of how to do things #LikeAGirl, these are the videos that aim to spark change.
7. Charity: Water
The Journey | Episode 1: And So It Begins
Charity Water has a reputation in the nonprofit community for producing great content. They know their audience, and they know their donors want to get involved beyond the checks they write. They want to see what happens next.
This video series, The Journey, takes that idea to the next level. Now, they’re not just showing you what your dollar is creating, they’re taking you behind-the-scenes of the content you love.
The best part is how Tyler talks right to the camera, as if you’re having a back and forth conversation. You have a role in the content, which mirrors how you have a role in the organization’s work to bring clean water to people in need.
The Takeaway: Bring your audience along for the journey.
We Are A Different Modern Family
The story of the Lewis family is part of Nikon‘s I Am Generation Image campaign, where the company gave cameras to seven people, and celebrated what they had to say through images. Kordale and Kaleb’s real-life story of how one photo of their morning routine went viral underscores the timeliness of the campaign. Everyone is taking pictures. Everyone has something to say. With this campaign, Nikon highlights how the brand’s Nikon’s stories (and products) fit seamlessly into the visual storytelling landscape of today.
The Takeaway: Make a statement that’s timely and resonant.
- The colors. The opening is dark and grungy, with oranges, browns and grays. As the theme shifts, so do the colors – starting with the bright red of a fresh pepper, then adding greens, blues and yellows.
- The music. This haunting rendition of “Pure Imagination,” by Fiona Apple harkens back to the hope and wonder of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but the song’s dissonance shows this wonder is gone from the world. Just like the colors, the song’s tone shifts when the scarecrow finds the pepper.
- The story. We’ve seen it over and over – from George Orwell’s novel 1984 and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to the The Lego Movie. Chipotle fits their own content into the dystopian storyline we all know.
#LikeAGirl | Unstoppable
The Always campaign, #LikeAGirl, encourages girls to be unstoppable. The brand is fighting for change (and as AdWeek points out, it’s easy to forget they’re selling a product). This video makes you want to join the fight, and one of the ways to do that is, of course, to share the video. I see what you did there, Always. Nicely done.
The Takeaway: When you’re aiming for change, make sure your content motivates your audience to share.
The Team Players
These are the team players – the videos that create parallels between brands and celebrities, pop culture, traditions and ideas. By aligning with these people and ideas, these brands tell a subtle story about themselves.
Nike: Short A Guy
Pickup games invoke a bit of nostalgia from all of us. They take us back to the heart of the game. It’s about joining the team and being a part of something fun. In this epic Nike pickup game, pro athletes from every sport invite the same kid to join their team, because they’re “short a guy.” And when these pros invite the kid to join their team, they put the camera at angle that makes you feel like Mia Hamm and Anthony Davis are asking you to join their team. The call to action, “Gear up at nike.com,” underscores this point – Nike is inviting you to join their team, and be a part of the same culture as your sports heroes.
The Takeaway: Invite your audience to join the team.
Game of Social Thrones
Hootsuite‘s spoof on the Game of Thrones opening title sequence, A Game of Social Thrones, is a pop-culture reference done right. They didn’t just tack on to the GoT phenomenon just because it’s popular – they drew a common thread between the show’s theme and the company’s own mission.
“Uniting warring kingdoms is a story we know a thing or two about,” reads the video’s description. This connection is subtle, but extremely clever. Hootsuite helps the social media accounts battling for your attention join forces in hopes of better content across the board. Hootsuite is to your Twitter and Facebook as Jon Snow is to the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings.
13. New Belgium Brewing Company
Zealots of Zag | Episode 1: Johnnyrandom at New Belgium Brewing
The Zealots of Zag campaign shows New Belgium Brewing is tapping into (pun intended) Simon Sinek’s idea, “it’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.”
Maybe because we’ve done it ourselves, we love people who pedal their own path, who zag when others zig. – New Belgium Zealots of Zag
The Zealots of Zag videos create parallels between New Belgium Brewing and people who share their values. They draw a line between the company’s history and the stories of people they admire. They show that New Belgium isn’t just a brewery – it’s a promoter of culture, a champion of fun, and a committed community partner. Why do they brew beer? Because it’s a vehicle for doing all of those other, more important, things.
The Takeaway: Emphasize the why by aligning with people who share your values.
14. Kate Spade
Kate Spade‘s #MissAdventure campaign is a series of short films starring Anna Kendrick, a nice choice for a brand that lists “crisp color, graphic prints and playful sophistication” as its hallmarks. Anna Kendrick is a relatable quirky character, who resonates with the hip following of Kate Spade’s Instagram.
The Takeaway: Choose the right influencer for your audience.
15. Jack Daniel’s
The Few and Far Between
What do you think of when you think of whiskey? Dive bars? Bartenders’ stories? Jack Daniel’s? That’s the aim of The Few and Far Between campaign. The Jack Daniel’s video series shares the tales of bar tenders from around the country. There’s a familiarity about these stories – they make you feel like you’re sitting on the other side of the bar listening. By aligning the brand with the broader bar culture and shifting the focus to engaging characters, Jack Daniels celebrates the tradition of drinking whiskey, rather than promoting the brand.
The Takeaway: Connect with the traditions of your industry.
16. Red Bull
Red Bull has built a massive media empire by aligning the brand with one concept: adrenaline. Red Bull gives you energy. And that’s exactly what this video conveys, both through its content and its fast-paced editing. The brand’s media aligns with Of course, adrenaline happens to be very visual. Not everyone can promote their brand with a wingsuit competition. But think about a value that’s core to your brand, and figure out how to show that value through video.
The Takeaway: Build on the basics.
These videos highlight the basics, from sharing a simple story to adding value with a how-to piece.
17. University of North Carolina
First Day, First Sip
When you’re first starting out with video, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. What stories does your organization have to tell? Which ones are worth telling? Universities are bursting with opportunity when it comes to storytelling. New and interesting characters join the student body every year. Professors are always trailblazing new research. Fun events are happening on campus every day. And you just never know what’s going to happen on a college campus.
The University of North Carolina‘s video highlights how one tradition brings together an entire community. This video takes a simple concept and turns it into an engaging story. A few bells and whistles (like time lapses and creative camera angles) make the video more interesting. And, the well-known tradition is sure to be a hit with students, parents and alumni – the university’s target audience.
The key here is this: the stories are right in front of you, you just have to recognize that they hold value for your audience. And as the stories unfold, don’t let them pass you by: record and share them.
The Takeaway: Know the stories your audience will love, and take the time to tell them.
When it comes to photos in tough lighting, Jessica Lehrman’s got a pro tip: say yes to HDR and no to flash.
Posted by Samsung on Saturday, July 18, 2015
Samsung shares videos on Facebook to highlight product features and share tips for making better use of their products. They hone in on just one feature to give followers an easy take away. Plus, they have pros host the segments, like this one hosted by photographer Jessica Lehrman, creating an element of trust and expertise.
The Takeaway: Share tips from the pros.
19. Whole Foods Market
Cooking Techniques | How To Steam-Fry
How-to videos provide value to your audience and highlight your organization’s expertise. This how-to video by Whole Foods hits all the main points: it’s colorful and engaging, it has workable takeaways, and it’s short, so it makes steam-frying seem easy.
The Takeaway: Create how-to videos that have real, practical tips.
The Risk Takers
These are the risk takers – the brands that persevered when others might have shied away.
IKEA Home Tour | Studio Apartment Makeover Ideas
The IKEA Home Tour is a series of reality-TV style shorts where real IKEA staff members travel around the country to give real people a home makeover. The videos deal with common challenges that resonate with IKEA customers. For example, the video above turns a boring studio into a functional space with a separate living area and more storage. So not only are the videos about real people, but they share workable solutions for the people watching at home (the IKEA team even responds to individual comments on the Youtube video to give audience members a taste of the same personal attention the people in the videos are getting).
Taking the authenticity level up a notch, the videos aren’t just hosted by real IKEA staff members, they’re also produced by real staff members – no professional film crews. In her interview with Content Marketing Institute, IKEA’s video strategy by checking out IKEA U.S. media and web manager Alia Kemet explained that this was a risk. She got a lot of pushback from advisors who thought she should use actors and professional crew. But she took a risk in hopes of making the show more authentic – and it paid off.
For the next season, they’ll even have one of the team members who has a background in music produce a new soundtrack for the show.
The Takeaway: Don’t let the naysayers get you down, especially when it comes to authenticity.
21. Panda Express
Eater’s One Day at Panda Express
The One Day at Panda Express project is slightly different from the other videos on this list because it was produced by a media company, rather than the brand. But it highlights the value of giving a media company the same access you would give to an internal team.
In this multimedia feature, Eater dives into every aspect of a day at Panda Express – from early morning prep, to the lunch rush, to closing time. It puts the spotlight on the employees (highlighting the details – right down to their shoes), the customers, and even the financials of the day. If Panda Express had attempted to do a project like this on their own, they might have dismissed these details as trivial or off-limits. Plus, it could have seemed too self-promotional. Telling the story from an outsider’s perspective made the piece compelling and authentic. Plus, Panda Express benefited from Eater’s high production value and storytelling expertise.
Brands are often wary of giving media companies too much access. For this story to be a go, someone at Panda Express had to say, “yes.” The brand had to trust Eater with their stories and their reputation. Now that they are reaping the benefits of this awesome PR opportunity, I bet they’re glad they did!
The Takeaway: When you get the opportunity to partner with the right media company, have a little trust and say, “yes!”