Brand Cinematography

I wrote a short Twitter thread about this approach, calling it Brand Cinematography. If you’re interested in it, I’ve also written this piece to cover what I’m talking about, and why it’s so important for your brand.

When you build a brand it’s important to focus on experience.

But when we focus on experience we often make the assumption that we’ve covered all the ground needed to ensure the experience is positive. We’re doing the right thing, but sometimes we need to be more pessimistic about that experience – sometimes it might not be right.

In film + TV, they have a term called Mise-en-scène. It translates to “setting the stage”, but covers how a scene plays out in front of us. This responsibility often falls to the DOP or cinematographer, and they have to make sure that every little piece of a scene is perfect. In film, it’s just as important what isn’t in the frame as what is in the frame. 

When everyone else is on 24/7, your brand needs to be just as awake as your audience is.

Thinking about your social strategy is a bit like the storyboard for a film. 

You might plan out the scene, where the action takes place, framing, dialogue, and so on.  

But what you never factor into a storyboard is a rogue coffee cup on set.  

Daenerys Targaryen with what I can only assume is an oat milk flat white. Doubt there’s any sugar.

In the same way a cinematographer ensures the total and complete “scene”, brands should be so in tune with the scene they set that every small detail is as considered as the overarching strategy.

We rarely (or never) factor in the operational hiccups of brand into a strategy. But when a brand is created in a full and considered way, it comes naturally to figure out the things that fall in-between these cracks. Stretched logos, inconsistency across type, design or tone and even issues of customer experience. 

Who you are matters in the small moments as much as it does on the fifty-foot billboard.

The proof has to be in the pudding. 

Patagonia has a core brand value tied to the company’s environmental + ecological beliefs. So when Donald Trump signed an order to reduce National Parks and Monuments in December 2017, they sued him. Why would a billion dollar company sue a sitting president on behalf of Native American communities?

Because that’s exactly what they should have done. It’s in their blood as a brand. This is natural land, and what had been signed threatened Patagonia’s core values as a business. They stood up for Native communities, and showed that businesses can (and should) help those who need it. Patagonia could have shied away from it and kept making recycled down jackets. But they took a stand.

I’m not suggesting that your brand should start legal action against anyone who has wronged you or what you believe in. As much fun as that might be, what I’m trying to say is that the smaller actions of your business should fit in with the bigger ones. 

We hear the term “give an inch and they take a mile”, and think of someone taking advantage. 

But what if the idiom is to show us the generosity of the person doing the giving? In any situation, no matter how big, they are generous.

Right on brand. In the same way, how does what you do as a business echo from your tiny decisions to the massive ones?

Hopefully, you’ve got everyone playing the same notes, no matter what volume.