There’s a timeless marketing adage that you’ll hear us reference a lot on this blog: “Customers don’t buy from brands – they buy from people.” But there’s an unspoken second part that needs to be considered with that statement: “Customers buy from interesting people.” What this means is that as a brand, the most powerful tool you have at your disposal is your story. Where you came from, who you are now, and why you do what you do…these are the serious questions that can help convert potential customers into lifelong brand devotees.
By telling your story, you are indirectly offering audiences the opportunity to become a part of it. But this offer is a double-edged sword, because it also acts as a challenge: Why, exactly, would viewers want to join your story in the first place? If your offer isn’t sufficiently tempting, most of them will cheerfully pass.
Whatever narrative your brand decides to put forward, its appeal (and unique benefits) should be communicated clearly and effectively from the very first frame of your video. Forget illustrating dull tech specs and shipping details. Your main job isn’t trying to persuade potential customers that they should buy a product and/or service. You are selling them on a specific lifestyle – and everything that comes with it.
That’s where lifestyle videos come in.
Unlike documentary videos, lifestyle videos are a fictionalized depiction of your brand that can take many different forms: Comedic, dramatic, inspiring, informative, etc. However, regardless of which creative route you decide to pursue, their goal always remains the same: To authentically define your brand’s narrative and aesthetic in a way that is appealing to your potential customers.
Defining Lifestyle Videos
Lifestyle videos are arguably the trickiest type of branded video content to pin down as a whole. That’s because their only limits are your imagination – there is no single format they need to fit, or checklist for you to follow in creating them. For this reason and more, lifestyle videos are wildly popular with top brands all around the world. A majority of the most successful video ads in history can be defined as lifestyle videos. For instance, if you were active in the marketing industry a decade ago, it was almost impossible to escape this series of zany Old Spice videos.
But what specifically makes that (or any) ad a lifestyle video? The primary trait that all lifestyle videos have in common is that they are, to one degree or another, scripted – even if they don’t technically have scripts. Rather than shooting tons of real-life footage (interviews, testimonials, etc.) and shaping their narrative in post-production, like you would with a documentary, lifestyle videos are almost always conceived from the ground up. Your story needs to come first – before your actual production.
Otherwise, the field is wide open, as long as you are effectively, authentically communicating what it means to be a part of your brand. For Old Spice, that meant conveying a playful (but still distinctly sexy) sense of modern masculinity that you too can indulge in by using their products. For our client crazybaby, we created a video that associated their earbuds with the grace, power, and beauty of yoga.
Yes, the earbuds were featured in this video, but even more importantly, we showed potential customers what wearing them feels like. This creates a more universal appeal; even if a viewer doesn’t personally practice yoga, they can still appreciate and empathize with the atmosphere captured on-screen. More than a product, what we were really selling was their brand lifestyle: Health, fulfillment, and self-control.
From Planning to Execution
When creating a lifestyle video, it is absolutely essential that from the very start your team has a clear, confident vision of the story you want to tell. Like we just said, in a documentary video the arc of the narrative is determined by the available footage. But for lifestyle videos, you need to decide on the content of the footage you want in advance – a missing (or inadequate) clip can sabotage your original vision, leading to cutting room panic and expensive reshoots.
Additionally, lifestyle videos tend to have far more moving parts than documentary videos, or even animation. Rather than just one cameraman walking around and capturing b-roll for an event video, you are far more likely to need a full crew, set, props, etc. That’s why pre-production is going to be your new best friend, from brainstorming to storyboarding to casting. The more that you are able to figure out in advance for your lifestyle video, the more hassle you will be able to circumvent (and money you will be able to save) down the line when production officially begins.
Lifestyle videos don’t have to be ultra-elaborate. Whenever you ever feel stressed out during pre-production, keep in mind just how much you can accomplish with a single colored backdrop and some nifty graphics, the way we did for our client Tophatter.
If your pre-production was as tightly-managed as we recommend, production itself should flow relatively smoothly – though even in the best case scenario, something or another will always find a way to go wrong. While you cannot always prevent problems from popping up, you can strategize in advance to deal with them. Whatever the situation, always have a back-up in place, plus a back-up for your back-up. Remember, planning is more or less free. Not having a spare battery for your mic pack, or your location permit getting processed a couple days too late, can cost your production everything.
Risk and Reward
Between the overwhelming creative freedom they provide and their potentially high cost (compared to other types of video), lifestyle videos may feel intimidating for content marketers trying to decide what type of video content they should create. But for those who are willing to plan in advance–or hire a production company like Lemonlight to make the entire process easy and intuitive–their rewards can be extraordinary. There’s a reason that almost all of your favorite commercials tend to be lifestyle videos: They are stylish, entertaining, and express your brand’s unique story. So click the link below, and let’s tell that story together!