You don’t need me to tell you how prevalent video has become as a medium to communicate information. Video is splashed across your newsfeeds on social media, dotted across your favourite websites or even at the bus stop on your daily commute.

Video is everywhere, and with good reason. Viewers are much more likely to retain messaging when it’s presented in video form compared with text, according to a report from Insivia. That makes video a powerful tool and one that many organisations are putting to good use.

Corporations are now seeing video as a must-have in their communications strategy – be that to engage customers, employees or investors.

But what makes an effective corporate video? 4k cameras? 3-axis gimbals? Stunning drone shots? It’s true that these are all nice to have, and sure, they’ll improve the overall quality of your video. However, if this is your starting point, you’re almost certainly on the wrong track. If your film is dull or missed the point, it will be a wasted expense and effort.

The overall purpose of almost any communications film is to grab and hold attention and get across your key message. To do that, you need to inject some creativity into your corporate video. Here are some tips to help you do just that…

  1. Define the purpose

To overcome that overwhelming feeling when approaching a new film project, bringing some parameters to your brief can be helpful. First, try focusing on the overall purpose of your video – if you had to choose just one message for your viewers to take away from your film, what would it be?

Next, think about your audience – who is your video talking to, and in what context? Are they a group of potential customers on social media, whose attention will be difficult to retain? A gaggle of new employees being trained on customer service? A collection of important investors who need to get excited about a recent merger?

Having a clear understanding of what you need to say and to who before you start working on your creative concept is a useful exercise. There’s no point in creating something ‘out of the box’ for no good reason – to have value in this context, creative ideas need to be based in concrete objectives.

2. Use a storyboard

Now that you know who you’re talking to and why, you can begin to think about how you will communicate with your viewers.

Here’s where you can start shooting out your zaniest ideas with your team – nothing is too ‘out there’. Brainstorm quirky suggestions and use a ‘yes, and…’ approach to form complete concepts.

Then, start mapping out ideas to understand how they will work in practice. Remember, it’s all about telling a story – how can you add functionality to your creative idea?

  1. Think laterally, not literally

When it comes to engaging people with corporate video, show, don’t tell.

I’m sure you’ve attended a conference or meeting where the speaker has just read directly from his or her slides. When did you start to lose focus – was it by the end of second or third slide? Can you remember the key message of the presentation? I’m willing to wager that the answer is no.

Effective corporate videos illustrate the facts with imaginative ideas. For example, we created a video for an organisations’ training event to show employees how vulnerable clients may feel putting their trust in the company.

We filmed one of their employees standing, blindfolded, on the streets of Edinburgh, holding a sign that said ‘Do you trust me, I trust you? Give me a hug’. It really got people talking and helped to start a conversation about how employees should approach customer service.

Drawing connections between seemingly unrelated concepts can help to drive messages home in captivating and memorable ways.

4. Keep it snappy

The beauty of video is that you can communicate complex ideas quickly – there’s no need to bore audiences with lengthy messages that could be said in a few seconds.

However, never compromise on clarity. Tell your audience what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. Communicate clearly and creatively, and you’re on to a winner.

Once you’ve considered all of these, then and only then should you start to think about how you will use your state of the art equipment and latest tech to make the video look and sound fantastic. Never use this as your starting point – if the video is all style and no substance, viewers will switch off from your message.

Alastair Scott is managing director of 20/20 Productions, an Edinburgh, Dubai and San Francisco-based production company delivering film, events, digital and creative projects.