For businesses that want to rise above the internet’s clutter, branded content video production is a necessity.
The growing use of ad blockers testifies to the frustration the average consumer has with online ads. People are simply fed up of being overwhelmed by unending sales pitches. Instead, customers demand content that engages, informs, entertains, and educates.
The brands they follow have an opportunity to provide just this by building their own content.
As companies continue to invest in more and more diversified types of content, branded content video production has proven to help boost brand performance more than any other format.
Of all the content types in the content marketing toolbox (text, images, infographics, videos, etc.), branded content videos have the greatest demand and the best performance.
Videos on Facebook receive 135% more organic reach than photos. Eighty-one percent of people have bought a product or service after watching a brand’s video. And 85% of people can’t get enough of it, saying that they want to see more branded video content!
With the growing rise in the popularity of branded content videos, every business seeking greater brand equity and a sustainable pipeline of leads is now seriously dedicating more resources to this format.
However, branded content video production is not enough; businesses need to also know how to create the right type of video content that will resonate with their target audience without being too pushy. Creating videos with overt sales pitches instantly defeats the benefits of content marketing by making branded videos appear like other online ads.
Marketers tend to jump straight into marriage during the first date. But today’s customers cannot be rushed.
Larry Weber, CEO of Racepoint Global, puts it succinctly: “People don’t want to be sold. What people do want is news and information about the things they care about.”
In this guide, we’ll provide you everything you need to know about branded content video production and how it can be done in a way that wins the hearts of your customers. We’ll consider this in a comprehensive way, including the following topics:
Ultimately, learning about branded content video production will provide strategic tools to:
Let’s begin with a definition.
A branded content video is a piece of marketing content sponsored, created, and shared by a brand that communicates its values without directly promoting the brand or its product.
Branded videos are a form of content marketing -- whereby a brand creates educational, interactive, and informative content that is useful and relevant to their target audience without directly selling them a product or service.
For example, when a notebook stationery company creates a video teaching people about the importance of note-taking, that’s a branded content video. When a company that sells outdoor sports gear creates a video series on the importance of an active lifestyle, that’s a branded content video.
But it’s important to note here that not all branded videos have an educational value. Indeed, some companies create branded content videos purely as for entertainment values or to touch upon societal issues.
For example, the Lego movie created by the Lego Group is a great example of a branded content video created for entertainment purposes.
In essence, there are three central features that define a video as branded content:
Once any of these three elements are absent, your project no longer qualifies as branded content video production.
Below is an example of a branded video that Brevo created for Century Properties in the Philippines:
The video provides educational content that teaches people how to sign and authenticate a Contract to Sell.
Importantly, notice that the video does not include any sales pitch or call to action. Instead, the Century Properties logo is the only overt brand message that was included.
Customers love branded content in part because they are tired of businesses treating them as a revenue number.
Instead, they want to be treated as real people with real needs. They increasingly shun transactional relationships in favor of a mutually beneficial relationship with the brands they buy from.
Why are 85% of consumers demanding to see more branded video content? The reasons are not far-fetched. Branded videos live out this mutual beneficial pact by offering customers several qualities:
Because of the reasons above, customers love branded videos. And because customers love branded video, brands that want to succeed must invest in branded content video production.
Successful businesses are the ones who recognize what the customers want and act accordingly. Give customers what they want - relevant, engaging, authentic, memorable, emotional, and remarkable content- and they will love your brand.
When customers love your brand, the business results are numerous. When you produce branded videos that your target audience are asking four, here are four essential business benefits:
To create successful branded videos, it’s first and foremost important to outline a strategy that measures the results your brand wishes to achieve with the project.
Here are some things to consider.
So what does success mean for a branded content video these days?
First, a branded video is successful if it gains attention. With 400 hours of videos uploaded on YouTube every minute worldwide, getting attention is a priority. However, gaining attention is not sufficient -- you must gain the attention of your specific target audience.
Second, a successful branded video retains the attention of your target audience. Gaining attention is one thing; keeping attention is another. You must write a check that you can cash.
Third, a successful branded video must impress your brand -- and its values -- upon your audience. While the primary goal is education (or information or entertainment), a branded video must still be a part of your overall marketing content.
Fourth, a branded video must prove relevant and beneficial to your audience. In other words, the audience must find value in the content. Their actual needs must align with your perception of their needs. Without that congruence, there is no success.
Lastly, a branded video should lead to an action without a sales pitch or a call to action. The target audience must so love the content that they develop a fondness for the brand behind the video. The content must be so purely relevant that they reach out for more without any call to action moving them along.
Now that we know what a successful branded video looks like, let’s consider how to create one.
Every business and marketer must understand that there should be a strategy behind every action. The strategy is the engine that moves the wheel.
This, sadly, is not always the case.
While 94% of marketers use content marketing, only 63% have a documented strategy.
According to Neil Patel, seasoned digital marketer and founder of Neil Patel Digital, “your success in content marketing has everything to do with creating a strategy and delivering on your objectives.”
Will Keenan, a Hollywood and Bollywood star, also adds: “it’s not what you upload, it’s the strategy with which you upload. Kind of an update on the Hollywood adage, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’”
The first step in creating successful branded video content is thus to design a strategy where you outline your brand’s specific goals and objectives.
First, you need to specify your overall digital marketing goal. Next, define your content marketing goal.
Only then can you create a goal for your branded video. Why is this so? Your branded video’s goal must flow out from your content marketing goal, which flows out from your digital marketing goal. Your digital marketing goal will also flow from the overall business goal.
For example, if your goal for the new year is to increase customer retention, everything you do in your digital marketing -- including content marketing -- it must revolve around that. Similarly, your goal for the branded video must fit into that spectrum.
If the business goal is increased awareness, the goal of your branded video is then influenced by this change.
Goals are only the beginning of your strategy. You must translate your goals to objectives.
An objective is a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goal.
A goal focuses on the broad vision while an objective focuses on practical, specific, achievable outcomes.
Increasing customers is a goal; growing our customer base by 10% in six months is an objective.
Once you define your goal for the branded video, you must translate that goal into an objective. If a branded video aims to contribute to the overall goal of customer retention, an objective (for the branded video) can be to increase customer loyalty by 5%.
Nothing should begin until your goal and objective for the branded video are so clear and simple a 5-year-old will understand it.
You could create the best branded video and it would still flush down money down the drain if you target the wrong audience.
In content marketing, targeting is everything.
Here, the first step is to define your target market.
A target market is a definite group(s) of people that are most likely to buy your product. A target market is also a portion of the total market you want to focus your marketing efforts on.
Even if you think everyone in the world needs your product or service, you don’t have the time or resources to market to everyone in the world. You must choose a target market you want to focus on.
Once you have a target market, divide your target market into various customer segments. A market segment is a portion of a target market with similar demographic, psychographic, and behavioral features.
Market segmentation is necessary because not every member of your target audience is the same. Dividing them into segments will help you target people with the same characteristics.
Demographics include factors like location, gender, and occupation. A bank that targets people in Kuala Lumpur can create these market segments based on demographics:
Psychographics include factors like personality, values, interests, lifestyles, and hobbies. The bank can have market segments for people who are often in debt, those who regularly go for vacations overseas, and people who like high-risk investments, for example.
Behavioral factors include purchase behavior, customer loyalty, usage, among others. A bank can segment its target market into FX purchasers, high net worth individuals, and long-term savers, for example.
For every branded content video production, you need to define the specific market segment you are targeting. Who are you producing the video for? Are they the white-collar employees who are often in debt and are long-term savers?
Everything else you do will flow out of the market segment you are targeting.
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of an ideal member of your market segment. A buyer persona gives a face (so to speak) to your market segment.
Once you define the market segment you want to target, create a buyer persona that will be on your mind throughout the production process.
A person is easier to remember than a group. John, a secretary at HSBC bank, 45, living in Kuala Lumpur, often in debt, loves high risk and high return investments is easier to remember.
Create your buyer persona and keep it in mind as you create the branded video.
There are two broad types (forms) of branded content video production: animation or live action. The first decision is whether you will be creating an animated video, a live action video, or a hybrid.
An animated video uses animated characters to tell a story and deliver a message. In contrast, a live action video includes real people in real locations.
Another distinction is the nature of the video. Will it be an educational, informative, or entertaining video?
This below branded video from Shakey’s Philippines is an example of a live action, educational branded video.
So which one should you produce? Animated or live action?
There are certain factors you should consider:
The decision goes back to your goals and objectives. Should it be educational, informative, or entertaining? Which one will help you achieve your goals and objectives? Animation? Live action? That should be the ultimate decider.
Once you have decided on the video’s form and nature, the next step is to develop the story you want to tell through the branded video. Whether you are informing, educating, or entertaining, you must approach every video creation with a storytelling mindset.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell,” said Seth Godin, a former business executive at Spinnaker.
Now it’s time to craft your story. Develop the plot, the characters, the world, the twists, and turns.
Your brand’s goals and objectives and your buyer persona will determine the kind of story you tell. To capture and retain your target audience’s attention, you must tell a story that resonates with them.
Bring everything you learned from the customer research stage here. Let them inform your storyline.
Once you have developed the storyline, you need to create the video script.
The script is the foundation of the video. The best actor cannot save a bad script.
Once you have your script, develop the storyboard. The storyboard is a graphical representation of how every scene on your video will look like. It is a breakdown of every shot/action into individual panels.
The storyboard allows you to visualize the story you are telling. It can help you see if the structure you are using communicates your ideas clearly. It is an excellent way to organize and evaluate your thoughts before production begins.
As Han Lung, CEO of Tailored Ink, puts it, “How can you build a house without a blueprint? The answer is: you can’t. In the same way, a video without a storyboard is like a house without a foundation.”
Once you have your story, script, and storyboard, the branded content video production process can begin.
For animated videos, you will need to work with competent animators that can deliver quality animation, whether freelancers or an established studio.
For live videos, you will need to work with a production team. They will help you bring your script to life, from choosing locations, finding the right cast, to the production itself.
They will also provide the right equipment including camera(s), microphones, lights, tripod, among others. You can source this yourself, of course, but in most cases it’s easier and cheaper to let the production team handle the technical requirements.
Depending on the video (length, location, complexity), you will need to cover key personnel such as the producer, director, videographer, cameraman, lightman, makeup artist, sound engineer, etc.
Again, a strong production team can help clearly define who is needed and work with you in a budget to allocate resources accordingly.
Production teams normally package videos as an end-to-end solution, from pre- to post-production. You must be involved in every step of the process, providing feedback and guidance until you have the final product.
During the video editing process, you will want to:
The post-production process is fun; it’s where your vision becomes reality. As soon as your video is locked down and finally rendered, you can then begin publishing.
Once you have created your video, it is time to press the upload button.
Where do you upload your video?
It depends on your target audience. Part of your research is to determine where your target audience spends their time online. Are they active on Facebook or Instagram? Do they use Twitter or LinkedIn?
Keep in mind that Youtube is the most popular video repository in the world. Whatever your industry, some of your target audience will be on Youtube.
There are currently 2 billion Youtube users in the world. Research by CISCO estimates that by 2021, it will take an average person 5 million years to watch all the videos uploaded on Youtube in one month.
It is thus advisable that every business that wants to win with branded videos must have a Youtube channel and leverage the platform for increased visibility and awareness.
You should also upload the video to the social media platform your audience uses and notify your email list.
As you invest in branded content video production, there are certain tips you should keep in mind.
Use the power of storytelling and the best copywriting tactics to create an intro that sells your video. Start with a story, data, quote, or anecdote that generates intrigue.
Seventy-three percent of marketers believe that videos drive ROI.
Since they are so effective, many businesses tend to keep creating branded videos to build long-term relationships with their target audiences.
Yet, with 500 hours of video content on Youtube every minute, today brands need to consistently produce quality branded videos to stay above the noise.
But producing such quality videos requires time, dedication, skill, and experience.
To assure consistent quality production, businesses often outsource branded video production to creative marketing agencies. A creative marketing agency can offer formulaic strategies, in-house video production talent and creative ideas that will help you deliver top-notch branded videos.
Brevo is a creative marketing agency that has the in-house talent and experience to help you create branded videos that will grow your business and audience.
Brevo works with companies of all sizes in different industries to create content that their target audiences love.
We combine superb customer and market research with experienced video production teams and story creation strategies to deliver videos your audience can’t resist.
Are you ready to enjoy the improved brand engagement, greater brand loyalty, boosted brand equity, and higher revenue that branded videos provide? Contact Brevo today to experience the power of branded videos.
It can be a challenging operation to constantly come up with creative social media posts to publish across multiple platforms.
But when companies commit to opening up social media accounts, they also make a tacit promise to consistently provide fresh, quality content that their online followers are looking for. Your audience is expecting to be:
Social media followers interact with your content alongside personal images of family photos and their friends’ vacations; so must your brand provide intimate access and communication to fit their feeds.
Yet, constantly producing creative content to feed the social media machine can be an overwhelming, intense and resource-draining operation.
Unfortunately, in place of proper planning and budgeting, most companies tend to just launch into the social feed without a long-term strategy. But running social media posts without a documented strategy is dangerous and can jeopardize your brand while guaranteeing weak results.
This lack of strategy is largely why over half of marketers are unable to demonstrate the impact of their social media investments, according to the Harvard Business Review.
While 97% of Fortune 500 corporates are on LinkedIn, 84% are on Facebook and 86% are on Twitter, companies still rarely assimilate their overarching business strategy with their social media platforms.
Often, this is because social media accounts are opened as an add-on or as an after-thought to the company’s main marketing strategy and not as an integral piece of it.
This is a major error. Producing engaging social media posts today requires talent, creativity and marketing resources. Social media has long become an essential part of a business’ external image and conversion mechanism.
Therefore, the effective development of creative social media posts only comes with the right mixture of marketing resources, creative human resources, and copywriting grace -- as does the rest of any company’s fundamental marketing tactics.
Here, we’ll list the top 6 formats of creative social media posts that we’ve discovered work best for building engagement while staying on-brand for our clients, which include multinational companies like Toys“R”Us and Dole Philippines, as well as top regional brands, like AirAsia.
The formats we’ll cover include:
Furthermore, it’s important to make a distinction here between creative social media types and formats. While we’ll cover various successful formats here, each of one these formats can be broken down in numerous types of social media strategies across multiple platforms. We’ll save that list for another post.
That being said, we find it is most instructive to begin reviewing the major formats before you set out designing an entire social media strategy in all its nuanced glory.
Read the following list with this in mind.
You are most likely familiar with carousels (or photo slideshows) as widgets or features on webpages. They are often used to display various central themes within the same screen, and have become so popular that they are now increasingly being used with great zeal within creative social media posts.
The carousel is favored among social media experts for being a very effective sales and engagement tool -- when developed and deployed correctly.
To develop creative social media posts using a carousel, the social media team first has to create what is called a treatment, which is essentially a storyline, step-by-step guide, and overall concept.
Within the treatment, social media teams will identify and pull to the fore the core message. This usually includes USPs, Reasons to Believe and other core marketing messaging that can be pulled out in the process.
Once the treatment and core messaging are documented, only then can images be selected to fit into the carousel.
Here, we also recommend thinking of the carousel like a book: an intro image with a catchy title and illustrative image that matches it will be most effective.
Next, we typically take one or two slides to elicit ideas by using questions or a proposition. This gets the viewer thinking about the topic before going for more direct marketing techniques.
Then, the last few slides are used to showcase the product, service, promo, etc. in a way that brings the core advertising message to the viewer without being too overbearing. In our experience, crafting a subtle but strong message this way creates a more trusting brand voice.
Finally, there is a slide for the call to action, plus any contact details. With some social media platforms, such as Facebook, here it is also a good idea to use messaging or sign ups as a call to action button, which instantly pushes the viewer into the specified action.
When all of these elements come together seamlessly, the viewer will keep swiping through the carousel, progressively coming deeper into the brand messaging and treatment that we have tailored for them, ultimately bringing them to a conversion decision.
Pro tip: You can develop an effective carousel by using the best practices of drawing board design. Develop a short table of objectives, storyline, flowchart and call to action. Ensure to include all in-slide art concepts, frame copy and other details.
Dole Pineapple: Brevo used this format in the Dole Pineapple Juice Campaign. The example we provide above shows how an effective call to action should look on creative social media posts that use carousels.
This step is critical and transforms this format from being a simple slideshow into a lead magnet. By asking readers to take action at the end, you don't leave them hanging - you invite them to respond easily and quickly through an interactive social media button!
This format offers a panoramic experience for your audience, bringing them into an illustrative, immersive storyline that you wish to tell within their social feed.
Although 180-degree posts may not be as in vogue as they once were when they first appeared, this format is often the best way to gamify your messaging to boost engagement among certain audiences, especially millennials.
A typical approach to gamify the 180 post is called the “treasure hunt.”
This game works by asking viewers to go back and forth across the moveable in-feed image to find items hidden within, then list them in the comments section to further encourage engagement from other participants.
To develop a gamified 180-degree post, creative social media talent must collaborate closely with the marketing objectives of the business to ensure that the game is not randomized, but rather a relatable, on-brand experience.
A visual idea is then proposed to conceptually link to the product and/or service that is being advertised, then find an interesting and engaging idea to establish a treasure hunt or other game to utilize within the panoramic image.
Pro tip: Think of Where’s Waldo. Gamification using 180-degree posts with this in mind work great.
FWD Life Philippines: For this health insurance company, Brevo created a panoramic visual of people in an apartment block.
The challenge: How many people can you see exercising in the apartment building, as opposed to people eating junk food?
This post generated 135 comments of viewers responding to the challenge. You can take a look at the image and comments here and see for yourself.
Besides being a fun, creative and engaging post, the 180-degree image was able to emphasize a core message for FWD Life Philippines: the need to stay healthy and sign up for their health insurance plan.
It was Brevo’s job to come up with the concept, pitch the idea, refine it according to the client’s taste, and then produce it. That’s just one typical way how this format of creative social media posts can be developed.
When we say “static”, we are often referring to a key visual -- the anchor image of a campaign of which there can be several derivatives.
Additionally, statics can also be completely stand alone ideas.
Nevertheless, the key is to include enough relevant copy that speaks to the viewer but doesn't violate Facebook's 20% rule (more than 20% in-art copy disqualifies it from being advertised properly).
In our experience, the best statics use real images with graphic art flourishes, short, snappy copy and, if applicable, the terms of the deal (discounts, promo mechanics, important dates, etc).
Pro tip: Think of your social media post like a visual-heavy print ad. It needs to disseminate your message quickly in order to stop people from scrolling, and that can be done with an eye-popping image.
Victor Consunji Development Corporation: In the social media post above, a real estate agency wanted to launch an occasion-specific campaign. This Halloween-inspired post had to keep with the brand identity -- luxury property.
Brevo decided to create a static that showcased a proper dinner set up, evoking a classy party that played into the company’s brand DNA, only adding a jack-o-lantern in the background as an accent.
The text, “Rest in Peace,” was written purposefully to stop the scroll, making the viewer do a double take before realizing that this was a Halloween-related post. This proved to be a smart way to capture people’s attention while remaining on-brand.
To create statics, Brevo gathers lots of info from our client, crystalizes their key message and then breaks it down into bite size info which we then pair with an arresting image -- something viewers will respond to. That's how a static is born.
The animated video format provides an amazing way to educate and entice viewers.
Like any other video production, creative social media posts that utilize animated videos need a lot of production planning.
This includes script writing, which must go through several versions until all stakeholders are aligned on the final concept.
Then, once the script is locked in, a moodboard is produced to show the type of animation that will be created, as well as a storyboard that highlights the flow of the script within the animation.
Only once all those elements align can animators begin to create the first visuals for the video.
Here, voices can also begin recording in tandem with the animation, if they are called for in the script and concept.
Pro tip: Videos average in length but the sweet spot is between 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Indeed, 30 seconds may seem really short, but that is actually a lot of time to provide numerous themes and messages.
Don’t forget that the longer a video, the more attention you require of your viewer. Keeping videos short and sweet, with enough information and zero fat, is key to a successful campaign.
AirAsia: For AirAsia RedTix, we wanted to communicate three core ideas: planning, booking, and buying a ticket to an event using RedTix, AirAsia’s events platform. The tagline we came up for this service was “Plan it. Book it. Tick it,” which clearly stated the event booking process. We wanted customers to understand that RedTix offers an end-to-end solution, from planning all the way to ticking an experience off one’s bucket list.
Visually, this made for a fairly easy narrative. We began the animated video by showing how events are typically discovered (online), planned (by calling your friends), booked (again, online, via RedTix), and experienced (at a concert, showing a marked checkbox to signal the “ticking” of an item on one’s bucket list).
We ended with a clear call to action, the tagline itself: “Plan it. Book it. Tick it.” Simple, easy to understand, and quick to use. The video became a high-impact way of reaching customers, calling them to book events and enjoy the convenient RedTix service.
GIFs are used and produced in a similar fashion to animated videos. But they offer a greater emphasis on the campaign’s core idea.
This is because the average GIF image is normally only about 5 to 15 seconds, which provides a more concentrated vehicle for your message.
Here, the idea is to plant an idea in the viewer's mind, but provide only enough info so they can make a decision and act on it if they want, and fast.
This is done through a quick-to-the-point CTA.
Pro tip: Think of any GIF you’ve seen. Only a single idea can fit into this format. This can be used as an advantage for the advertiser, however. Isolate your message in a quick, quirky and repetitive manner so you’ll reinforce your brand and call to action.
Shakey’s Pizza: Prosciutto is traditionally considered high-end ham in the Philippines. But Shakey’s Pizza wanted to dispel this notion and show their audience that not only rich people eat it.
Brevo was asked to introduce Shakey’s new prosciutto pizza in a celebratory fashion.
The GIF format proved the most effective and apt vehicle for this messaging.
In the Shakey’s Pizza GIF, we hint at the Italian flavor of the pizza through the operatic scene while heralding a brand new food item that everyone can enjoy.
An Instant Experience (IE) is a full screen display built for mobile users which is immersive and provides a microsite-like experience.
It is among the most novel creative social media posts out there today.
For this reason, the vertical and horizontal scrolling in an IE can be complex. Yet, it provides a layered presentation of USPs, with multiple calls to action and outbound links. Think of an IE like a carousel on steroids, and produced similarly to an animated video in that it has several layers (static and/or animation) that will also need sign off and approval before production begins.
The key here is to find an overall idea that can branch into separate threads, but all come back together at the end (like a Cohen brothers film for those with short attention spans).
On social media, it is important not to oversaturate viewers with info, but to find a happy balance where the IE becomes more than a scroll through the feed, but rather an engaging visual experience.
Pro tip: Instant Experiences can seem daunting. Their apparent complexity can be difficult to explain to stakeholders. Solve this by clearly defining the narrative of each level and how it all works as a seamless whole. If you have trouble figuring it out, your company’s stakeholders will definitely not be able to follow; nail the concept fully before you present it.
Toys“R”Us Philippines: We pitched the idea of creating three price tiers for certain toys: PHP1,000, 2,000, and 3,000. We differentiated each level by color and design, making it easy for viewers to see the available levels. We also used colors to match the prices; yellow for the lowest price (accessible and fun), red for mid price (dynamic, bold) and blue for the highest priced toys (premium, thoughtful).
The tiers helped group products together and immediately gave budget-conscious customers a way to view items within their price range, rather than make them hunt through a huge mixed catalogue.
Our IE was the best performing ad in the campaign, garnering 46,843 link clicks, 38,539 landing page views and a 5.24% CTR. It’s high performance can be directly attributed to this novel format, which the target audience had never experienced before.
Moreover, the ad wasn't even boosted for engagement, yet Toys”R”Us still had over 1.2K reactions, shares and comments.
Asking your team to be constantly creative can be an intense operation to manage.
This is where hiring a professional creative marketing agency can help you generate fresh ideas that your audience is certain to appreciate.
Brevo works with companies large and small to customize creative social media posts that are built to engage while staying on-brand. Contact us today to learn how creative social media posts can stop the scroll.
I always enjoy working on a new project.
Part of the excitement is talking to the client, understanding their vision, and then collaborating with the Brevo team to make it happen.
Sometimes, however, things don’t always go as planned.
The client might be erratic and change lanes halfway through. Or, as was the case with one particular client, we dropped the ball and fumbled our way to a favorable conclusion.
Our end-product didn’t match what we pitched the client. We managed to finish and deliver, but we had to settle for being content with less than stellar output.
It never happens, but it did.
I’d like to share with you some details of a project that faltered and the hard lessons we learned from the experience.
The project was an extensive report for a reputable corporation. We won the project on the strength of our pitch which, we were told, was superior to our name-brand competitors.
We wowed the client with our concepts, unique visual approach, and the pedigree of our writing team. We won the project, got stuck in, and then things never quite went to plan.
By the time we crossed the finish line, nerves were frayed, the client was frazzled, and we were left wondering, “What happened?”
Here’s where we faltered.
1. No champion
The project had no champion. Which is silly, because we ALWAYS have a champion — someone to lead the project, start to finish. Instead, several voices were involved in the project, but with no clear leader as the project lead assigned was hindered by not being given the guidance they deserved.
This led to confusion and, when problems began to rise, team members assumed someone else would handle them. But no one stepped up. Consequently, things began falling through the cracks. In fact, the lack of a clear leader is what led to a myriad of other problems as the project progressed.
Next time we’ll clearly assign a project lead and let them lead. When several strong voices are involved in a project, it may initially be smooth sailing but with no clear leader, it runs the risk of becoming a ghost ship, tossed to and fro on the high seas.
2. Poor communication
No leader led to inconsistent communication — lots of voices and talk, but no one marshalling everything into a seamless whole.
What’s more, we only had one face-to-face meeting with the client — ONE. We normally meet clients on a weekly basis but found ourselves relying mainly on emails for primary communication.
This is not ideal, particularly when details are everything. The client was responsible for providing all the data but they faced their own internal challenges; it was our job to guide and make things easier for them. We failed.
The client deserves regular face-to-face attention, if not in person, at least via video conferencing and voice calls. By not meeting them regularly, we missed out on crucial interaction, deep dives, and sharing of information.
What we should have done is conducted regular meetings with the client. That would have helped with direction, clarity, and expedition of data/materials.
3. Imperfect time management
We had 8 weeks of dev time, which is tight but certainly doable if managed correctly. Unfortunately, the lack of project leadership meant that schedules weren’t managed properly, and endless revisions began to pile up.
Following a debrief with the client we were informed, they believed the revisions they were sending across were assisting us rather than hindering the design team.
They were happy with the output being produced but we were getting lost in what they actually wanted, leading to tighter deadlines which is never ideal for quality output.
It felt like a reservoir waiting to burst, cracking against the weight of multiple edits, updates, and adjustments. As the deadline tightened, we failed to adapt and found ourselves scrambling to plug holes in the dam.
Next time we’ll beorganised from the get-go.We have the tools, the skills, and the experience to handle complex projects. But we succumbed to disorganisation.
4. Poor people management
We had the manpower to handle the project but didn’t properly organize ourselves. Consequently, we ended up being unable to provide adequate creative staff to handle the work.
We eventually had to pull a freelancer on board to help us. This isn’t unheard of, of course. But because it was last minute, it led to a less-than-desired outcome: a report that didn’t feel like Brevo’s signature form.
Lesson learned: Organise yourself.
5. Lack of accountability
The lack of leadership, weak planning, and poor communication could have been solved if we had proper accountability in place.
As CEO, I had an opportunity to act on the red flags. I didn’t. I could have stepped in to troubleshoot the situation. I didn’t. We had a chance to meet our original vision but instead, we floundered.
Problems can go unnoticed in an environment where everyone trusts someone else to help when things get crazy. But in this case, no one was around to help. And i should have been more proactive in getting on top of the situation.
Personally, I will be more discerning of red flags and be a lot more present in situations that are going south.
The project was delivered to the client’s satisfaction. But not ours. We know we could have done better. We know we could have elevated the project. We certainly shouldn’t have let things run the way they did, somewhat haphazardly and without a rudder.
The silver lining lies in the important lessons learned along the way. I take more away from my failures over my successes. We will be more accountable, more attuned to the warnings of a project about to burst.