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7 Examples That Show the Best of Long-Form Video

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Whether it’s the hottest new web series or an in-depth TED Talk, people love to watch long-form video — and businesses are catching on to the trend.

Unlike shorter, product-centeric videos, long-form content offers companies the opportunity to show their commitment to their mission and connect with viewers on a deeper, more emotional level. Longer content also enables intensive educational experiences for the viewer, whether the video covers exciting industry trends or specific approaches to tackling problems.

What does “long-form” video really mean? To put it simply, long-form videos are a type of video content that are usually longer than 5 minutes in duration.

We put together a list of long-form video series and one-off productions to showcase how companies live and breathe their values through video. Small to medium-sized businesses can use this list of branded content to get inspired when it comes to creating content for their own brands. Let’s get into it!

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InVision is swinging for the fences with long-form video. On their blog, Inside Design, InVision shares videos about design trends and tips, many explaining how to use Sketch and get the most out of it. InVision’s site is filled with robust product tutorials, but these pieces focusing on larger, fundamental design principles — between two and seven minutes long — will help anyone strengthen their overall design foundation. The company has even created a full-length documentary about design thinking at IBM called “The Loop.”

InVision’s stated mission is to help users create digital content that people love, so it’s fitting that the company offers viewers new strategies and approaches for designing that go beyond merely using their own tools. The longer format allows viewers to learn the details involved in the execution of new techniques.

InVision examples:

  • Design Systems Manager Master Class: In this two-hour, 6-episode series, InVision explores how to create a design system for an entire organization, from start to finish. It taps three design experts to walk through the challenges of product design at scale.
  • Design Disrupters: In this series, InVision showcases top designers at the world’s smartest companies and dives into how design has become the new language of business in the 21st century.

With the shift to long-form video, InVision shows they are true leaders in the field of design — not just a tool for designers.

On their Price Intelligently blog, ProfitWell conducts video “teardown” case studies, in which they focus on one to three company pricing pages and talk about what works and what needs improvement. Videos usually feature a lighthearted (though occasionally heated!) conversation between executives Patrick Campbell and Peter Zotto and typically are just under 10 minutes long.

ProfitWell’s long-form videos are conversational, appealing to viewers who gravitate toward podcasts or other content that affords hosts the chance to riff on their knowledge and the topic at hand. Rather than focusing on their own software, ProfitWell’s teardowns appeal to aspiring entrepreneurs and startup leaders looking to discover best practices from successful companies and competitors.

“ProfitWell’s long-form videos are conversational, appealing to viewers who gravitate toward podcasts or other content that affords hosts the chance to riff on their knowledge and the topic at hand.”

ProfitWell examples:

The longer format of these videos enables hosts to slowly walk viewers through the pricing pages in question, ensuring that the pace of the content can fit a wide number of learning styles. There’s a healthy mix of commentary and visual aids made with original data, which shows that the company is committed to making the most of the long-form branded video format.

Mailchimp’s core focus is email marketing, but their target audience is far more broad than just those interested in sending tons of emails. Experienced business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs alike may find inspiration in the “Mailchimp Presents” video series.

Using high-quality production techniques and clever editing, the videos attach Mailchimp to buzzworthy brands and their founders who, incidentally, use email to communicate with customers. The style of the videos is closer to an independent documentary than to a typical SaaS product video, giving viewers a chance to sit back and enjoy a theatrical glimpse into creative spaces and minds.

Mailchimp examples:

  • Hamburger Eyes: In this documentary, we get a behind-the-scenes look at a one-man photography project that evolved into a thriving community of artists based in San Francisco. Mailchimp knows its audience and stays true to its brand by focusing on a creative-centric topic that anyone with a pulse and an appreciation for photography could get behind.
  • Taking Stock: A fictional video series about a young female photographer navigating the complexities of agency life, Taking Stock delves into the realities of working in the world of tech and design, giving viewers a chance to see inside the life of a creative. We learn much about the subject’s life here — what drives her, what a typical day looks like — helping the viewer associate Mailchimp with the driven professionals who make the world of entrepreneurship thrive.

Mailchimp has been a visionary brand when it comes to creative storytelling. Ever since they sponsored the first season of Serial, the company has attached itself to big ideas, and, through their own example, they’ve proved that every business can affect a wide audience if they tell a powerful story.

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Still from “Taking Stock” courtesy of Mailchimp.

Intercom features videos regularly on its blog, with experts speaking on topics like support, growth, product, and design. Many of the videos are talks that the team and others have done at different conferences, which is a great way for people to see talks that they weren’t geographically capable of attending.

Intercom’s videos educate viewers on new ways to approach Intercom’s core competency — customer support and communication — in a format that encourages in-depth exploration and tutorials. Instead of merely chopping up key takeaways from the talks, long-form video enables the brand to include the overall conference context, linking together key concepts and materials.

Intercom example:

  • 5 lessons learned from growing a support team: In this conference video, Intercom’s customer support lead, Sharon Moorhouse, shares five lessons that the company has learned as it has scaled its support operations. It’s meant to engage growing companies, regardless of the industry, and appeal to audiences that may lie outside of the scope of Intercom’s typical customer profile. Sharon’s talk is engaging and packed with visual examples, making the most of the video format and capturing the energy and excitement that she brought to the conference.

Conferences are affirming experiences, where people in the same field can form new connections, get new ideas, and become excited about trends and developments. Intercom’s focus on opening up their otherwise siloed conference material gives audiences a chance to connect with the brand even if they’re far away from the talks or sessions. It shows the company living out its mission of “keeping business personal” by opening up access to the conference experience.

Patagonia makes documentary-style videos about real people doing the things they love and excel at in the outdoors. The videos are extremely high-quality, featuring breathtaking visuals and rare glimpses of some of nature’s best vistas.

Instead of merely focusing on their well-loved products, Patagonia’s longer-form content serves as an inspiring reminder of the brand’s central ethos — saving our planet. It’s hard not to fall deeper in love with the earth after watching these pieces, and viewers certainly can see that the brand is about far more than just making outerwear and camping gear.

“Instead of merely focusing on their well-loved products, Patagonia’s longer-form content serves as an inspiring reminder of the brand’s central ethos — saving our planet.”

Patagonia examples:

  • Wolfpack: This video follows the training efforts of a group of trail runners living in isolation. Drone shots and ultra-slow-motion close-ups abound, giving the pieces a cinematic quality that is certain to move viewers on an emotional level. The family’s extreme choice to live in the wild is likely outside the desires of most of Patagonia’s customers, but their way of life can inspire viewers to think about how to better connect with planet Earth.
  • Takayna: Takayana (Tarkine) is one of the last remaining old-growth rainforests in the world, yet it’s increasingly threatened by mining and other destructive activities. This video highlights the beauty and fragility of the landscape by intercutting meditative shots of flora and fauna with images of devastating excavation and logging. Patagonia is clearly living its mission here — seeking to save the planet by raising awareness about protecting one of our most precious earthly resources.

Patagonia’s mission is one of the most ambitious of any brand out there, and that’s what makes them so successful. By taking a stance on major issues and creating beautiful visual content, they’re proving to an audience why it’s cool to care about more than just clothes and gear. To change the world, Patagonia is leading by example.

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Still from “Wolfpack” courtesy of Patagonia.

Many beauty brands rely on mere testimonials to push their products. But Glossier opts to show how their products weave neatly into the lives of their customers. They have a series called “Get Ready with Me” (based on the popular)YouTube trend that follows the morning routine of influencers and creatives. The hashtag for the campaign — #GRWM — encourages customers to create their own content and further engage with the brand.

The pieces also have a casual instructional approach, giving them an educational component that goes beyond a shorter “how-to” piece. They’re showing you how to create a look rather than telling you how to do it.

Glossier example:

  • Get Ready With Me: feat. Annahstasia + Glossier: Here, an influencer’s morning routine is shown in real time. In several meditative shots, the camera lingers over Annahstasia going about her morning. It’s easy to imagine someone watching this piece they start their own day to find inspiration and calm from the emotional music and beautiful cinematography.

Glossier, known for its colorful Instagram account and vibrant pop-up stores, creates a calm atmosphere throughout their videos. They create intimacy with the way their videos are shot, and that intimacy will contribute to a long-lasting and better customer relationship than a typical advertisement or commercial.

Over the years, Airbnb has evolved beyond being just a website for booking rooms and homes, becoming a platform for finding community through unique experiences. Recently, Airbnb launched an Adventure series featuring hosts and people from all over the world. By focusing on the curated experiences offered through Airbnb’s “Adventures” programs, the brand helps establish itself as far more than a travel app.

Airbnb example:

  • Six Strangers: In this 12-minute video, six strangers take an unexpected trip together. Like the other pieces in this series, the length of this video enables a more TV-like viewing experience that mirrors popular reality shows like Naked and Afraid and Survivor.

Through their long-form videos, Airbnb is expressing one of their most significant brand values: “Belong anywhere.” The Adventure series is all about breaking down barriers to find out what people have in common with each other. When people think of Airbnb in this way, the company starts to symbolize connections between people, not just cool destinations.

“When people think of Airbnb in this way, the company starts to symbolize connections between people, not just cool destinations.”

More and more brands are reaping the benefits of thinking (and acting!) like media companies. With the wealth of high-quality content vying for their attention, viewers are demanding highly engaging work from companies they encounter. Investing in rich long-form content enables brands to tap into the growing binge-watching habits of their followers while expressing the values that matter most to them and finding deeper ways to connect with customers.

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Why Your Business’s Brand is More Important Than Ever

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When it comes to purchasing a product or signing up for a software or service, more often than not consumers will buy from and remain loyal to the brand that resonates with them the most. So naturally, in today’s cluttered marketing landscape, building your brand and growing a loyal audience should be a top priority for most marketers. Yet, small and medium-sized companies still insist on sticking to the same old strategies — ones that don’t help them cut through the noise. It has us wondering … what gives? Why aren’t more businesses investing in growing their brands?

In this post, we’ll explain how marketing has shifted and why traditional tactics aren’t as effective as they used to be. Read on to learn why your business’s brand is more important than ever and why you should invest in doing more (and better) brand marketing.

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At our live-streamed event, Change the Channel, our co-founders Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz discussed how building your business has drastically changed over the past few years. In their experience, growing an audience was previously an entirely different ballgame. Savage said, “It used to be the case that you’d post something on Facebook and your entire audience would see it. Now organic reach is below 2%. So that audience that you worked really hard to build, now you have to pay to reach them.”

The stark decrease in organic reach signaled that something had to change. Nowadays, in order to stand out amongst the competition, marketers must invest in brand marketing to reach the right people at the right time and build an audience of brand advocates.

Marketers today are also at a disadvantage if they live and die by a data-driven approach to brand marketing. We’re all working with the same tools and tech these days, which means all of our competitors are on the same playing field as us. We all have the ability to calculate every interaction and every bit of marketing spend to see exactly how our digital marketing efforts tie to revenue. What was once a competitive edge is now merely common practice for businesses across industries.

“What was once a competitive edge is now merely common practice for businesses across industries.”

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We shouldn’t toss data analysis out the window for good, but we do need to find a new way to differentiate ourselves in saturated markets — which means putting an end to constant tinkering and starting to take even bigger, riskier swings. We think businesses can do that by investing more in their brands and the stories they are uniquely positioned to tell.

We know what you’re thinking — we wrote this blog post that you’re currently reading and we’re saying content marketing isn’t exactly revolutionary anymore. That’s because, while it may not be a novel practice anymore, it’s still valuable. But investing in content marketing alone will no longer do the heavy lifting for your brand it once capable of doing. Unless you already have a large following, positioning your business as a thought leader with a single blog post is like tossing a coin into a magical fountain and hoping your audience would boom overnight.

To put things into perspective, there are about 30 blog posts being published every second, and quite frankly, a lot of this content is low-quality and self-serving. This makes it confusing for people to sift through the dust and find any valuable content your business is creating. Even if they do discover your content, will your brand leave a lasting impression and make them want to come back for more?

“To put things into perspective, there are about 30 blog posts being published every second, and quite frankly, a lot of this content is low-quality and self-serving.”

It’s time for marketers to lean into the greatest differentiator you’ve had all along — your brand. We rely so much on recommendations for products and services from friends, family, and co-workers, that building a reputable brand consumers can connect with is essential to not only growing sales, but also influencing how people speak about your business to others.

That’s where we think Brand Affinity Marketing can help. With this approach, businesses create and distribute binge-worthy content with the goal of positively impacting the overall sentiment, perception, and value of their brand. The truth is, digital advertising has become less effective over time and generating affinity for your brand is more important than awareness. So, why not let go of those old rusty marketing tactics and jump into creating more engaging content that’ll grow you an audience of true fans for your brand?

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3 Common Problems Marketers Face When They Focus Too Much on Brand Awareness

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Marketers have started experiencing some serious growing pains as of late. For years, most of us have followed a tried-and-true formula for getting people to know about our brands — create engaging content, post regularly on social media, run some eye-catching ads — lather, rinse, repeat. The problem with this approach is that marketers today have nearly all the same tools at their disposal.

We all know what it takes to make our content marketing efforts successful. We all know that we have to pay to play on social media. And because we’re all well aware of this, the internet has become a really crowded, cluttered place. Businesses have focused so much on making people aware that they exist, that they’ve lost sight of what matters most — getting people to actually like their brands.

In fact, the pursuit of brand awareness alone has ended up stunting growth for many businesses. Here are some common problems marketers face when they’re on the hunt for brand awareness, and brand awareness alone. If you can relate to any of these, you may just want to take a closer look at your goals for the year ahead and consider shifting your strategy accordingly.

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Metrics that measure brand awareness like views and impressions don’t actually indicate whether people like your brand or not. For instance, it’s impossible to determine the quality of a view or impression. According to Google Analytics, a page view is any instance where a page is loaded or reloaded in a browser. On Facebook, an impression is the number of times your ad was displayed on someone’s screen. So, without taking the time to dig much deeper into either metric, a five-second view or impression would be counted the same as a five-minute view or impression.

Now, these metrics clearly don’t reveal very much, but, in the world of digital marketing, they’re easy to measure and track. The resulting chase for vanity metrics has pushed marketing teams to produce content that merely juices up these numbers instead of actually providing value to their audience. Since SEO tools can help marketers pinpoint the keywords, headers, and angle of a post or video required to rank on Google or YouTube and, in turn, attract as many views as possible, the results for virtually any competitive search term have eerily similar titles, examples, and structures.

“The resulting chase for vanity metrics has pushed marketing teams to produce content that merely juices up these numbers instead of actually providing value to their audience.”

Most marketers also source their research from the same search results, so everyone’s essentially copying each other in order to rank on Google and YouTube. The result? Bland and boring content, uninspired ads, and more of the same.

Just because you reach a ton of people (even millions!) that doesn’t mean you’ll connect with them, let alone convince them to buy anything from your business. Traffic and impressions don’t always equate to resonance, and they certainly don’t guarantee more revenue.

For example, here at Wistia we once spent $2 million on an ad campaign that featured some of our most creative work to date. With 43 million impressions, it certainly seemed like a successful campaign. But once we dug a little deeper into the data, we found out that our campaign generated the same amount of web traffic as a reasonably successful blog post, converted minimal leads, and generated barely any business. That’s one expensive and, embarrassingly, pretty ineffective campaign! Here’s a little look back at one of the ads we ran (we still stand by its cuteness):

Another interesting case study on brand awareness takes place in the marketing automation space. HubSpot, one of the market’s leaders, focuses heavily on building brand awareness and currently has four times as many social media followers and almost double the amount of organic traffic as Mailchimp, one of HubSpot’s main competitors.

However, Mailchimp, a business that focuses more on building brand affinity than awareness, has been able to generate more revenue and profit than HubSpot. Now, we’re not saying this the sole reason for Mailchimp’s success, but it’s an interesting case study in what can happen when you focus less on reaching the masses and more on reaching the right folks.

It’s true, Google and Facebook’s advertising model lets businesses find new audiences with ads, however, that doesn’t mean you’re reaching the right folks or that they’re happy about it. Just think about your own personal experience with ads — when they interrupt your favorite TV show, you probably look straight down at your phone. And when you’re cruising through your social media feed, chances are you won’t spare a passing glance at the countless ads screaming for your attention.

As of this past year, more than 25% of internet users in the United States used ad-blocking apps on their devices to help put an end to the noise. People have even started to develop banner blindness, which causes them to not only ignore ads but also any content resembling ads or content located in the places usually dedicated to ads. It’s pretty impressive what our brains can do!

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“As of this past year, more than 25% of internet users in the United States used ad-blocking apps on their devices to help put an end to the noise.”

For most brands, their digital advertising return on investment also decreases with each year. Since digital advertising spend has been compounding by 20% each year over the past decade, the only way you can generate the same return on investment is by increasing your ad budget by the same rate. If you can’t (which is the case for the majority of brands) digital advertising will generate less of a return on investment over time.

When it comes to inbound marketing tactics used to gain brand awareness, the same issues run rampant. With over 500 million blogs and 23 million YouTube channels with at least 10+ subscribers, brands struggle to cut through the noise. And with the cost of consumer attention increasing seven to nine times over the past decade, inbound marketing’s return on investment is also dwindling each year. So, what’s a marketer to do?

Any marketer will tell you that making people aware of your brand is a crucial step in building a successful business. But, that’s only one piece of a much bigger puzzle, and focusing too much on that component alone can send you down a dark, fruitless path. Getting people to like your brand and actually recommend your products or services to their friends — or in other words, creating brand affinity — is a much more worthy investment in 2020.

Curious about how to get started building brand affinity? Sit back, relax, and dive into the world of Brand Affinity Marketing with us. Read our four-step playbook and learn how to connect with your audience on a more personal level, how to build loyal audiences, and ultimately, how to grow a stronger business in the long run.

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How to Ensure Your Marketing is Consistently Creative in 2020

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Jay Acunzo was angry. As a seasoned marketing professional who had spent most of his career deep in the trenches of the content marketing space, Acunzo couldn’t stand the commodity content and conventional wisdom that started flooding the industry. So, in 2016, he decided to wage a war against it with his own creative agency, Unthinkable Media. He crafted a podcast series called Unthinkable that tells compelling stories about the rare few who buck their industry’s best practices and hone their intuition to do exceptionally creative work.

In two and a half years, Jay shipped over 70 episodes of Unthinkable, attracting over 100 five-star reviews on Apple Podcasts and tens of thousands of social media followers. He even wrote a book called Break the Wheel about ignoring best practices, focusing on what actually works best for you, and prioritizing resonance over reach.

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Image Source: Artillery

However, despite convincing many in his industry to subscribe to his philosophy and transcend the creation of cookie-cutter content, Acunzo is still frustrated. “Right now, because I’m running a media company for marketers who make shows (Marketing Showrunners), I’m mad at why so much ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ in marketing feels like random, one-off stunts,” Acunzo says. “Why can’t we be more consistent?”

As marketers, chances are you’ve asked yourself that question at least once. How can we turn creativity from a swing for the fences to a defining trait? To find the answer to this pressing question, we asked Acunzo and four other creative thinkers in content marketing — Ann Handley, Joe Lazauskus, Jimmy Daly, and Eddie Shleyner — how they hone their creativity to build loyal, passionate audiences. Let’s dig in!

Contrary to popular belief, the information that will help you create the most compelling content isn’t stored in a Google Analytics dashboard — it’s in your audience’s minds. After all, they’re the ones you’re creating content for in the first place.

In the content marketing industry, there isn’t a more passionate supporter of this notion than Joe Lazauskus, the author of the #1 Amazon New Release, The Storytelling Edge, and the Head of Marketing at Contently.

Over the past few months, he’s conducted dozens of what he calls “empathy interviews” with clients and prospects to test his team’s assumptions and develop new solutions for their clients. The goal? To fully empathize with his target market. And it’s paid huge dividends for his team.

“For the first time, I spoke to my clients without an agenda. I wasn’t trying to subtly influence a purchase decision or create their content strategy. I was just listening in an open and empathetic way,” he wrote in a blog post about empathy mapping. “These interviews were the greatest gift I could have gotten. I had two dozen spreadsheets on my computer that told me who our clients were. But these conversations told me how they feel. And suddenly everything — our messaging, positioning, content strategy — became so much clearer.”

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Getting constant feedback from your audience not only supplies you with a laundry list of new ideas, but it also helps you truly serve your audience. So if you really want to be consistently creative and get your audience hooked on your content, take a page out of Lazauskus’ book and interact with those who consume what you make, learn about their challenges, and, most importantly, understand them on a deep level.

“Getting constant feedback from your audience not only supplies you with a laundry list of new ideas, but it also helps you truly serve your audience.”

Ask anyone what the most important stage of the creative process is, and they’ll likely say ideation. The best ideas stem from long brainstorming sessions, right? As counterintuitive as it seems, sparking your creative process by creating, rather than ideating, can actually lead to the breakthrough moments needed to make something worthwhile.

“When we want to create great work, it’s tempting to try and gather up all the answers we think we need to justify creating something, but it’s far more effective to create to find your answers,” Jay Acunzo says. “I call this the quest, which is a term I learned from marketing author and speaker Andrew Davis, who helped me see the importance of focusing the creative process on investigation rather than pontification. Think of it as the relentless pursuit of curiosity through research and creation, which I find leads to better breakthroughs than leaning back in a chair and trying to concoct ’the idea.’”

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Placing a heavier emphasis on creation during the creative process also helps Eddie Shleyner, founder of one of the best copywriting blogs around, VeryGoodCopy, find the answers that steer his articles in the right direction. “Once I have the topic, I try to write my article as quickly as possible. I just want to get the story and the ideas on paper,” he says. “This usually takes a few hours and gives me the full picture I need to evaluate where I need more words and where I need fewer words. It also helps visualize where I can weave in a story to hook the reader.”

Acunzo’s and Shleyner’s laser-focus on the act of creation speaks to the fact that creativity is a skill. Just like dancing, the best way to sharpen your creative chops and consistently channel your creativity is through practice — not by obsessing over every little move you’ll make.

When asked how she decides the topics for her wildly popular newsletter, Total ANNARCHY, Ann Handley, the Wall Street Journal best-selling author and Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs answered, “What delights me that week. I can’t write about things I don’t care about.”

Passion fuels creativity, generating your best ideas and enabling you to do your best work. And while creating content that specifically appeals to you might not cast the widest net, it’ll resonate with people who have similar interests and help you build a loyal audience.

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Just like Handley, Jimmy Daly, a Director of Marketing at Animalz, has relied on his own palate to create a thriving newsletter called Swipe File, which boasts over 4,000 subscribers. “The only real theme in Swipe File are things that I find interesting. I have a bias towards stuff that is really evergreen. If I find something interesting from 2005, it’s going in the newsletter,” he says. “I’m also biased towards marketing, writing, productivity, creativity, etc. Swipe File definitely mirrors my personal tastes.”

With their newsletters, Handley and Daly have the creative freedom to write about whatever interests them — liberties most people won’t have when working for a company (though some of us are luckier than others on that front!). Fortunately, you can still fuse your passion into your work and fuel your creativity even while working on the dullest of projects. For example, by bringing your unique self and personal creativity to work, you can invigorate a bland blog post with a story about one of your passions or enliven a dry how-to video with your graphic design or musical skills.

“You can still fuse your passion into your work and fuel your creativity even while working on the dullest of projects.”

After waging his war on random acts of creativity, Acunzo told the marketing world, “Today, the mandate of marketers is to hold attention, not ‘grab’ it. As a result, all of marketing needs to be consistently great work instead of one-off spikes in the numbers.”

In other words, consistent creativity isn’t a nice-to-have anymore — it’s a must-have. And if we can absorb the lessons that some of the best creatives in content marketing have detailed above, we’ll never stop delighting our audience.



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