How Long Should your Corporate Video be? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Deciding on the length of your corporate video is integral to the video production process. It plays a part in determining the script, the score, the picture. But what is the best balance between the length of your corporate video as opposed to its efficacy? We find many clients get the answer to this question wrong—and in the beginning stages of a new project, we often do, too.

The answer to the best creative production strategies, like video length, aren’t the same for every company video project. But there are four main questions we ask our corporate partners when determining how long their company’s video should be, and answering these allows us to implement the best video strategy for your company. Here’s how we determine how long a company video should be:

1. Who is your audience?

First and foremost, you should know your audience before starting the video production process. You’ll have to know their demographics, like age and location, and what platforms are best to reach them through.

But there are a few additional attributes about your audience that will shape your messaging—which, in turn, determines the length of your video:

  • Is your audience uninformed about your topic, or are they already experts?
  • Are you pitching a brand new concept to new people, or are they long-standing stakeholders?
  • And how will they feel, emotionally, about your message?
  • Are you announcing celebratory news or doing damage control?

Pharmaceutical company videos are some of the hardest when it comes to knowing how to properly address the audience. The pharma industry is a controversial mix of science, politics, research, and commerce; doctors, investors and consumers alike tend to distrust pharmaceutical companies. Answering these questions about the intended audience helps pharma videos overcome these obstacles and produce brand films that inspire the audience to trust them.

This chart helps to determine where your audience falls among these spectrums. Different audiences respond to different approaches, so understanding the best approach to your company’s video performance will help you speak directly to your audience. And once we know who we’re speaking to, we can understand how long they’ll be willing to stick around to hear your message.

2. How dedicated is your video’s audience?

If you’re showing a fundraising film to a room full of past givers and friends of your cause, you’ve already got their attention. Your video can stand to be longer—you’ll have more room for lengthy personal stories that tug on heartstrings. Company brand videos in emotionally-charged fields like charities, social services and diseases, can afford to be longer; the video strategy becomes inherently more engaging and immersive, because it elicits empathy. Especially when dealing with those types of health issues that require medical intervention, pharma videos marketed for investors are best left a little longer, to give them time to become attached to the story and the cause.

If you’re introducing your brand to an entirely new audience, however, you’ll need to grab them immediately. Marketing analysts say that brand videos have 10 seconds or less to engage the audience. With the fast-paced consumption of video through social media and other digital platforms, people need to be hooked within a few seconds, or they’ll decide it’s not for them. And since the payoff has to arrive quickly, your video can’t drag on afterward.

Consider implementing a creative video strategy of several short, digestible, puzzle-piece company videos that engage and end before the user moves their attention onto the next thing. It’s a tried and true corporate video strategy – remember commercial campaigns on broadcast TV? But in modern corporate video production, this strategy is adapted to eternally-consumable online video platforms and social media.

And if you’re hoping to catch the attention of Millennials and Gen-Z users with a social media marketing campaign, you’re going to have to hook them within the first 3-5 seconds. The good news is, these social-media-laden generations react just as compassionately, if not more so than other generations, to story-based messaging that feels personal. TikTok alone is filled with brand videos that feature influencers and utilize trends so viewers don’t realize they’ve watched a micro-brand film before it’s already over.

3. How complex is the content of your message?

One of video’s unique strengths is the ability to compress time and space. It can connect people from across the world with a couple of cuts. Corporate video can relay a CEO’s message across 400 offices in 82 countries, and it can distill your entire company history down into a couple of minutes. Internal communications videos as well as brand videos ensure your message is relayed consistently over time and space. But what is the message? And, maybe just as importantly, how easy is it for the audience to understand?

The complexity of your message will impact the length of your video. Generally, we find that brand videos have a sweet spot of 2-4 minutes. That allows enough time to build up the emotion of your story while keeping your audience actively engaged. If you stretch the story too long with slow pacing or complex details, you risk losing your viewers.

But if your story is a simple data presentation, like an animated explainer for figures, your video should be short and sweet. Highlight the important values in figures, keep the dialogue and music upbeat, and break information down into digestible bits.

4. What is the purpose of your video?

Why did you make this video in the first place? What is its purpose?

As a general rule of thumb, you gain grace in the length of your company video as the emotionality of the video’s subject increases. For instance, if your corporate video is for internal communications celebrating a record quarter, keep your video short and sweet. Maybe a brief “Thank you” message from the CEO, a few candid clips from around the office, and a couple infographics. Go too long, and your employees will feel like it turned into a training video. This, as opposed to a pharmaceutical industry video for oncologists treating pediatric cancer. A longer video that features anecdotes, clinical studies and patient testimonials is much more effective in a context like this.

If your goal is to hook your audience and inspire them to act, you’re going to want to keep your brand film on the short side. Sometimes, a minute or less is all you need. Especially if you’re asking them to stay involved afterward: visit your website, read your white paper, follow you on a social media platform.

But we’ve all seen Ken Burns tell stories across tens of hours, split across multiple televised showings, with a massive dedicated audience. When you need to dig into the heart of your story, share a lot of information without rushing the pace, and make a deeper connection, you’ll have a better chance of achieving your video’s mission with a longer video.

The Heuristics of Determining the Best Length for a Company Video

Compare these two videos yourself. Created by Tribe’s video production team, each highlights how the interactions of all four of these questions affect the strategy for a given corporate video. Recruitment videos need to be fast-paced, inspiring and exciting, with a direct call to action. So, while the recruiting video features quick segment shifts, mixtures of aesthetics, settings, text – there’s something new and disparate happening every two seconds. You’ll notice the college anniversary video takes a completely different approach to their organization’s brand video. Sentiment, slow transitions, interviews with professors and students – these take time to engage the audience in a personal way they feel a part of, helping them better absorb the story.

Indulging in History: College Anniversary Story

The second is a film made for Hamilton College’s bicentennial anniversary. We captured the 200-year history of the college, which lent itself to a longer story, rich with the spectacular beauty of the campus.

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