The best video production agencies storyboard, film, edit and produce high-quality videos for businesses. Video production companies also have teams of experts that manage lighting, location permits, filming schedules, call sheets, and other logistical necessities.
High-quality video production is all about storytelling. Good storytelling is what helps audiences connect to the content they consume. The absence of good storytelling is what makes user attention quickly flag, resulting in video abandons. The best video production companies know that every video needs to tell a story, even if it’s a very simple one. Especially when the material in question is being developed for the purposes of branding, you want a production company that can effectively tell a story about your business. Examine the company’s portfolio of work closely to make sure storytelling is a skill they’ve developed.
Leading Video Production Companies Work With Talented Directors
Impressive video work comes out of a collaboration with talented directors. Skilled directors have vision and expertise that allows them to bring complex ideas and concepts to the screen in compelling ways. Middling directors, on the other hand, will produce middling work. If you want your video project to be a success, look for a production company that has relationships with talented directors in the industry. Then look at the kind of work each director has done. Does it seem like it would align easily with your ideas for the project? Top video production companies will be proud to declare their relationships with directors. Steer clear of any company that’s ambiguous or mysterious about who they work with, as it’s likely indicative of uninspiring talent.
In addition to talented directors and creatives, make sure the company you end up partnering with puts an emphasis on client relationships. You should have an account director assigned to your business who will manage communication and be accountable for things like timeline and deliverables.
Effective Video Production Companies Are Collaborative
Video production is a field that involves many different skills and disciplines. The director is there to oversee it all, but he or she doesn’t do everything. The biggest productions will involve writing, storyboarding, casting, location scouting, lighting, video editing, and so on. In order to produce good work with so many cooks in the kitchen, video production companies need to have exceptional collaboration skills.
Not only must video companies facilitate collaboration among members of the production, they also have to be able to work closely with clients. High-end productions are expensive endeavors, and clients deserve to get what they pay for. This can only be achieved if all team members, both client and agency, are closely aligned to the project with goals and desired outcomes. Understanding of the client’s branding, voice, and mentality are key to creating a successful video on their behalf. Always look for a video company that can act as a true collaborative partner.
Cutting-Edge Video Production Companies Win Awards
Everyone likes to win awards -- and the reason is that awards indicate that someone has the respect and admiration of his or her peers and mentors. Video production companies that win awards have been recognized as leaders in the industry, and this fact should be reassuring to prospective clients. If anything it means the production company isn’t untested, and that they have been able to achieve a high level of work in the past, so will more than likely be able to do it again.
Exceptional Video Companies Push Boundaries
You know what they say: there’s no reward without risk. The best video production companies are capable of pushing boundaries and taking the creative risks that result in work that feels fresh and unique. You might think that no one can push boundaries when they’re producing a how-to video, a commercial, or a corporate video, but you’d be wrong. The best video content always does something new with the form. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, but it should strive to be innovative. Look for video production partners who have a proven track record of thinking outside the box for their clients.
Service Offerings Of Top Video Production Companies
The best video partners offer a range of video production services. They should be able to accommodate video projects of all sizes, though be aware that most will have a minimum starting budget of at least $5,000 for a single project.
In addition to full-service custom start-to-finish video production, below are some of the most common service offerings you’ll find at top video companies:
- Video Strategy - The first step is determining what needs to be said and to whom. A video strategy will identify the target audience, key messaging, approach, and distribution plans.
- Script-writing - Every production has a script. This is where the creatives determine the “plot”, so to speak, and hash out dialogue and voice-over.
- Storyboarding - An illustrated shot by shot sequence detailing each frame of the video. This is the video blueprint that aligns everyone to the final direction before shooting.
- Voice over - Video production companies will hire voice over artists to narrate the video. The casting will be based on direction as agreed in the strategy phase of the project.
- Animation - Top video production companies can also handle animations of all kinds. They have motion designers on staff equipped to handle animated video needs.
- Distribution and promotion - Once the video has been shot and edited, it has to go somewhere. Many video production companies can help with the distribution and promotion side of things as well as to help ensure clients get the most out of their video projects.
How The Best Video Production Companies Market Themselves
You can expect most video production companies to have a strong social media presence. They will invest particular time and attention in video channels like YouTube and Vimeo. These channels act as showcases for their work, and as easy places to sort and categorize videos by type or industry for peak browsability.
Showcasing video work on social media and on the company website is key for video companies, but they also have to invest in being discovered by prospective clients. They invest in paid search (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to increase their visibility in search engines for terms relevant to video production. Thought leadership and content marketing are also key, as they contribute to SEO efforts and help define the company as an authoritative voice in the industry.
Content is king, as they say, and video is the king of content. As attention spans decrease and our society becomes an increasingly visually-driven one, video will become more and more important as a marketing tool.
Amateur video, however, is not an option as it reflects badly on the brand that produces and promotes it. In order to produce the high-quality video content brands need to get noticed, a partnership with a top video production company is necessary.
To identify which video production companies are among the best in the business, look for these key differentiators.
- Exceptional storytelling - Do the production company’s case studies demonstrate an ability to tell a clear and compelling story? Are they able to translate an ordinary concept or idea into something memorable and engaging?
- Talented directors - Who are the directors the production company works with? Are they respected in the industry? Does their past work suggest that they are well-equipped to execute your project?
- Collaborative - Is the production company capable of working in a collaborative fashion, not only within internal teams but when it comes to external (aka client) stakeholders as well?
- Award-winning - Has the production company won any awards or honors for the video work they’ve done in the past?
- Boundary-pushing - Can the production company push the boundaries of what is expected? Is their work innovative and fresh, or does it look like everything else that’s come before it? Do they suggest new and exciting ideas when they pitch for your business?
Top Video Production Firms Have Top Qualities That Result In Successful Projects
The top video production companies should readily share highlight reels from past video projects. The agency should take pains to demonstrate not only that they’re an industry leader, but that they have the skills in-house to make your specific project a success. Credible agencies will be happy to share information about awards and honors they’ve earned for their work and will connect your company with past clients who can act as references if you require it.
The best video agencies have talented video experts on staff -- creative individuals who are dedicated to their craft. These employees contribute to creating a company that has a demonstrable artistic perspective. This is important because you want to work with an agency that can do more than simply point and shoot. Ideally, you should be looking for a team that will be able to provide true artistic direction and valuable recommendations that will improve the overall quality of the project.
The best video production companies will set clear expectations for the video production process. Nothing should be left to chance, and the client should know where they stand at all times. Look for an agency that is upfront about their process, including nitty-gritty details like lighting and equipment. They shouldn’t shy away from budgeting out the project once the client’s needs and objectives are made clear, and they should be able to provide a reasonable expectation on when the video will be complete. Also look for agencies who are willing to work around key milestones and deliverables so that you are given the opportunity to weigh in at different points during the process. The agency should always be clear in their communication with the brand representative and manage the entire project with as much transparency as possible.
The best video production company will take the time to understand exactly what the objective of your video campaign is, create a strategy to ensure that objective will be met. From script writing to storyboarding, filming, and post-production, agency experts ensure everything runs smoothly and that each of the brand’s key requirements is met.
When it comes to crafting a compelling video for your brand, top video production companies will take the time to outline a strategy that will dictate the video process. The strategy phase is necessary because it helps ensure that everything is accounted for before you move into the costly production phase where mistakes will result in lost time and wasted money. A good strategy will outline all the key aspects of video design, including tone, language, visual aesthetics, length, as well as detail all the resource that must be provided by the client.
Top Video Ads That Captivated Consumers
Trust in brands is at an all-time low, with 74 percent of consumers stating that that wouldn’t care if the brands they used regularly ceased to exist. The good news? Thirty percent of consumers would trust the opinion and endorsement of a blogger, meaning tasteful influencer marketing can help.
Although the actual ad isn’t the most innovative, hair care product line Tresemme enlisted well-known fashion blogger Arielle Charnas of Something Navy to endorse a new shampoo and conditioner system.
The video was shot and edited together very casually, ensuring it resembled her own social media presence and natural voice. This allowed the ad to speak directly to her one-million and counting followers naturally.
Heathrow Bears Christmas Advert
Studies show that people lean on their emotions -- not logic -- when it comes to making a purchase. Therefore, appealing to someone’s heart -- whether it’s through nostalgia, love or both -- will likely be successful. Especially at Christmas.
In 2017, UK airport Heathrow created an unofficial prequel to their 2016 advertisement, telling a powerful visual story of a family over the years. It uses the classic Heathrow teddy bear as its characters, saying goodbye and hello in airport scenarios as their family progresses. It’s sweet, emotional and powerful — everything a top video design should be.
“We hear from our passengers that there is no greater feeling than being wrapped in the arms of a loved one at Christmas,” Heathrow commercial director Ross Baker said to AdWeek. “We wanted the advert to capture this unique feeling and make people feel even more excited to welcome friends and family this festive season.”
The Coughing Billboard
Creating video ad campaigns is a smart tactic for businesses. People are more likely to remember content if it has visuals attached to it and videos improve SEO, meaning your odds of being discovered by potential consumers skyrockets.
Couple those findings with a poignant story, and you’ve got the makings of a viral video! Swedish pharmacy Apotek Hjärtat capitalized on this idea with their video “The Coughing Billboard.” The pharmacy placed a large digital billboard that could detect when smokers were nearby. As they passed, it coughed, showing the effects smoking has on everyone and encouraging people to live a healthier life.
Originally released around New Year’s, the video is slightly interactive and has user-generated aspects (since it utilizes regular passersby on the street). By combining an emotional appeal that fits the brand, Apotek Hjärtat created a memorable video that will keep the pharmacy at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
A Coke For Christmas
Eighty percent of shoppers are influenced by marketing and advertisements around the holidays, so it’s no wonder that every company -- from major brands to small startups -- invest in a little extra advertising towards the end of the calendar year.
Coca-Cola always delivers heartfelt, effective videos ads around the holidays -- and 2017 was no different. This past year, they followed a young boy who delivered vintage cokes to his hardworking neighbors and people in his town. After distributing them all day, he has one left -- which he leaves for Santa that evening.
This video effectively showcases the stress that goes into the holiday season while highlighting the necessity of taking a moment to relax and enjoy the holidays, implying the Coca-Cola can help you do that. The ad was effective, too -- Coca-Cola beat their Q4 2017 revenue predictions.
Game of Thrones Season 7 Official Trailer
While each new season of Game of Thrones may not actually need a full ad campaign behind it, there’s no doubt that the Oscar-worthy season trailers are their own work of art. And as the production value has gone up on the show, so has the quality of the trailers.
In less than two minutes, editors at HBO are able to give us a snapshot of what’s to come for so many characters. Punctuating by anticipatory music by composer Ramin Djawadi, the trailer was viewed and shared countless times since it dropped, garnering over 40.6 million views on YouTube in the process.
5 Videography Trends To Use In 2018
Front-Load Your Video
The first few seconds of your video -- especially on social media sites that auto-play content -- are crucial. Therefore, you should front-load them with alluring images or b-roll and engaging text to entice viewers to keep watching.
After all, video is one of the fastest-growing forms of content marketing -- 87 percent of marketers use it! Other content types like blog posts and news article place emphasis on a compelling lede to capture readers -- your videos need to do the same.
Athletic clothing company lululemon incorporates adventurous content marketing into their strategy. The call upon a roster of ambassadors -- from buzzy fitness trainers to elite athletes -- to create exciting videos that speak to health-conscious consumers. Their recent video with Olympian and skier McRae Williams snags viewers by showcasing incredible tricks before discussing his wellness tactics for the duration of the video.
Try Motion Graphics
Investing time, money and energy into a full video shoot can be overwhelming for startups, but it’s not your only option when it comes to video. Try trendy motion graphics or stop motion videos to engage your audience instead.
Stop motion videos are particularly easy to create -- all you need is an iPhone, a tripod and simple video editing software. Instead of pressing record, move items in tiny increments, snapping plenty of photos along the way.
Then, string the pictures together in an image-based video and you’ve got yourself a video flipbook that consumers will engage with! Need some inspiration? Ritz Crackers’ easy recipe stop-motion video shows how simple yet effective animation can be.
Augmented reality and virtual reality videos are costly and difficult to produce -- particularly on a regular basis. However, there is a similar interactive counterpart that will immerse your audience in your brand: 360-degree video.
There are several types of 360-degree video, but ultimately, they give the illusion of being immersed in a scene just like VR. The main difference between the two is that VR offers a limitless experience, while 360-degree videos are more grid-like in navigation and may have some angles that aren’t as enveloping.
When utilized, 360-degree videos see higher conversions than regular videos and many platforms -- such as Facebook-- have dedicated platforms for 360-degree branded content videos for advertising. Discovery created a strong example of a 360-degree experience with their Mega Coaster video. As the video (and roller coaster) progresses, you have the ability to look around at the scenery as if you were a real-time passenger.
According to the American Psychological Association, laughter improves cognitive function and promotes better learning and retention. Including humor into a commercial will encourage viewers to actually watch it and improve the chances that they will remember the information presented.
What’s more? Comedy is an easy way to let your brand identity shine. Just make sure the type of humor you want to incorporate will fit with your audience. One step in the wrong direction and you could face a PR headache instead of a viral video.
Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” strikes the perfect balance between informative and cheeky. The sharp video capitalizes on a play on words to design a memorable, snappy video promoting free shipping while driving home a playful brand identity.
The best way to get people talking about your video is to give them something to talk about. In fact, Kevin Alloca, head of culture and trends at YouTube, recently told AdWeek that the best videos utilize participation -- aka the ability to participate in a conversation about a video -- to increase chances of going viral.
Taylor Swift is a master of participation throughout all of her content. Her private life is public fodder, and she capitalizes on that by placing subtle hints and clues about creative inspiration throughout her music videos.
The music video for “Look What You Made Me Do” is one of the most explicit examples. Fresh off of feuds with Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Calvin Harris and Katy Perry (just to name a few), the Internet was abuzz with who inspired what lines, which costumes and how that Thriller-like introduction really set the stage.
How To Create A Successful Video Ad Campaign
Quality Over Quantity
Twenty-five percent of consumers will lose interest in your brand or product if you don’t have an accompanying video. However, the prospect of losing a quarter of your audience shouldn’t scare you into pushing out several videos every single day. Instead, stick to the age-old adage of quality over quantity.
A well-produced video will explain information, tell a story and engage users fully on multiple channels -- everything that that flaky 25 percent craves. So, take your time creating a longer and more comprehensive narrative. Video competition is stiff -- and you can’t afford to lose viewers because you pushed out a sub-par production out of fear.
Take Halo Top Creamery -- a “healthier” ice cream option -- for example. They have only created a few video advertisements. However, they took the time to add their voice in, craft a narrative and produce a high-quality video. As a result, the three videos have collective had over 14.1 million views on YouTube.
Make It Mobile-Friendly
Mobile video views are on the rise, surpassing 60 percent of all video views at the end of 2017. Therefore, it’s imperative that you create mobile-friendly videos that make it easy for your followers to view and share.
If you’re creating a social media video ad, make sure you set specific parameters within the buying process, then film and edit within them -- you don’t want to have to trim a video size and lose important elements of the narrative. If your video is embedded directly onto your site, add a responsive video splash screen to ensure it is automatically responsive to various screen sizes.
Plus, create different cuts of videos to optimize the correct size and length for every social platform. This will improve your organic reach, overall views and engagement.
Add A Narrative
Perhaps in a ploy to outdo the competition, many advertisements are taking on a feature film level of production and storytelling. But this move isn’t just a way to keep up with the Joneses -- brains are far more engaged in content when a narrative is unfolding.
It’s not surprising that Apple is leading the pack in commercials with a story. Their most recent video ad -- Welcome Home -- was directed by Spike Jonze and stars singer and dancer FKA Twigs. We see her coming home on the subway after a long day’s work, looking defeated.
Once she walks into her apartment, she quietly asks Siri to play her something she’d like. The music begins, and FKA Twigs increasingly dances to pop-y electronic music, showcasing how the Apple HomePod can lift her mood and make her home a pleasant place to unwind. This narrative takes a very relatable moment -- feeling tired after a long day at the office -- and combines it with simple storytelling and artistry to evoke a mood every consumer will want to chase.
Create An Emotional Appeal
The most shared -- and most successful -- video ads are heavily rooted in emotional appeal. Consumers want to feel implored to make a purchase or transfer their brand loyalty and appealing to them on a personal level is a successful way to increase reach and conversions.
Budweiser’s 2014 drinking and driving ad does just this. We see a young man playing with his dog throughout the years. After the dog has reached adulthood, the man heads out for a party, and we see the dog waiting endlessly overnight for his owner to return. Right as the audience is tearful for the distraught dog, his owner walks in, telling his dog how he didn’t want to drink and drive so he stayed with a friend.
This ad appeals to multiple demographics -- it speaks to people who have been affected by drunk driving, it strikes a chord with pet owners and it also sends a positive message. Budweiser, which fueled is great night on the town, is an afterthought in this commercial -- but by focusing on emotion, it became the main player.
Stay On Brand
Ninety percent of consumers expect a similar brand experience on every device and platform. Therefore, whether you’re creating a simple social media campaign or a large-scale advertisement, it should be easily identifiable with your overarching brand.
To achieve this, note how you will brand the video, incorporate notable taglines and utilize correct fonts and color palettes within the video design before you start shooting. It may also benefit the business to look at older successful campaigns and see how you can incorporate their elements into your new video, because the best videos are those that achieve striking continuity.
Lincoln Motor Company is a standout company when it comes to achieving consistency throughout their video commercials. Although slightly abstract (and often parodied on SNL…) each advertisement evokes a sophisticated feel that portrays dependable and accessible luxury. Longtime spokesman Matthew McConaughey’s presence keeps the company’s brand identity even more constant.
Find the best video production companies in the agency listings above.