One of the wisest things I’ve ever read about product marketing came from the writer of a children’s book.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea,” said Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, creator of The Little Prince.
The goal in crafting a perfect product video is not far off. If you want your video to resonate, it should be about more than just the product. It should be about the problem, the solution, the experience, and the larger vision of what you’re trying to build.
Considering the right video can put a product on the map for the first time or reinvigorate a company that has long been stale, it’s important that marketers have a strong grasp on this. So to inspire your own efforts, we’ve collected a list of impressive product videos for marketing a product or new release.
A product video is one that explains and visually exhibits a product’s tangible benefits. A lot of product videos tend to emphasize a product’s unique features, but one chief thing that truly differentiates a good product video is its ability to exhibit how it solves problems.
What Makes a Good Product Video?
As a rule, remarkable product videos encompass the following:
Want to see how these elements are put into action? Check out the examples below.
I’m digging into the archives for this one, but in the world of videos that add life to a product, few have done it better than Blendtec. The company’s CEO, Tom Dickson, became a YouTube icon back in 2006 with the introduction of his Will it Blend? series.
Since then, Blendtec has expanded the tremendous success of these videos to other channels, enabling viewers to suggest things to blend on Facebook. The company even has its own Wikipedia page dedicated to the series.
The success of this video comes down to two things: a clear, unwavering message and a company with a personality. In seven years, the series has never changed. The point of each video and the underpinning of the product positioning is essentially, “Why yes, it will blend.”
For years, we’ve been watching this product blend everything from glow sticks to an iPhone. The videos are minimally expensive, product-focused, and garner millions of views. In a recent interview, Dickson explained the history and success of the video series:
“‘Will it Blend?’ was developed accidentally by a new marketing director hired in 2006. I have always been one to try to break my blenders to find their fail points and determine how I can improve them. George, the new marketing director, discovered some of the wacky things I was doing to my blenders … With a $50 budget, George bought a Happy Meal, a rotisserie chicken, Coke cans, golf balls, and a few other items, and they made five videos. Six days later, we had six million views on YouTube. Six years, 120-plus videos, almost 200 million views later, ‘Will it Blend?’ has been named as the number one viral marketing campaign of all time [by Ad Age].”
Here’s Tom blending a Facebook request: Justin Bieber. The video earned 2.8 million views (and counting) on YouTube.
Dollar Shave Club also made waves with their first product video. I’ll warn you now: they’re not shy with the F-bombs or referring to “your handsome-ass grandfather,” so you may want to throw in the headphones before pressing play. Having said that, what’s singular about this product launch video is how well the company knows its audience and the problem it’s trying to solve.
Dollar Shave Club was trying to crack into a demographic of young, professional men who habitually purchase big-brand razors at local stores. The problem they attempt to highlight is the absurdly high cost of store-bought razor cartridges. Thus, the company needed an absurdist, well-targeted product launch video to match.
CEO Michael Dubin, who studied improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade, wrote the spot himself and hired a comedian friend, Lucia Aniello, to produce the video. According to reports on Quora, the video cost approximately $4,500 — and yet, it got more than 11 million views and coverage on countless media outlets.
In tight marketing budgets, professional copywriting services are often the first to be cut. Instead of hiring professional copywriters, companies opt to take on the writing themselves, figuring it’s not all that different from other writing they do. They assume the words they choose won’t make much of a difference one way or the other. Based in Glasgow, Purple Feather is a copywriting agency that set out to prove that assumption wrong.
Words matter. In fact, they can change everything. Purple Feather made that point exceptionally clear in this powerful video:
The best product videos focus not on the product itself, but on the stories of the people who use it.
Technology writer and NYU Professor Clay Shirky has a great chapter in his first book about the pervasiveness of communications tools in our lives. In it, he explains that technology doesn’t truly get interesting until it becomes so ingrained in our lives that it turns invisible.
No product video shows this “invisibility” of really good products better than Google’s “Loretta” Super Bowl commercial, which tells the story of a man reminiscing about the love of his life with help from Google.
The video below demonstrates how seamlessly Google and all of its products have melded into our lives and become a part of how we interact. It’s a video about an experience, not software, and that is arguably what the company truly creates.
Launch videos like the Dollar Shave Club video above have a bit of an advantage when it comes to resonating with an audience. They represent a brand new company, product, or idea. But what if your company has been around for a long time? What if the announcement you’re making is really more of a set of enhancements to an existing product than a brand new launch?
This year, Apple tackled that challenge head-on with the following video. This video takes a collection of seemingly small enhancements and strings them together in a way that underscores just how advanced the total new functionality is. Take a look:
This year Google introduced a new logo for the company and a new parent company, Alphabet. It was the perfect moment for retrospection. So the company took to video to show not only how much Google’s products have evolved, but how much progress those products have enabled in the world around them.
The brilliance of this video is that it uses others to tell the story. Whereas some companies may have pointed the camera at their own designers and developers (looking at you, Apple), Google put the focus on the users, media, and cultural leaders that have adopted and promoted the products along the way. The resulting video plays more like a historical chapter than a commercial.
I want to end this list with a bit of an anomaly, because it pushes at the boundaries of what can be considered a product video and, as such, opens up all sorts of opportunities.
InVision, a prototyping, collaboration, and workflow platform wants to empower designers — their primary users. Much of their content strategy is bent on this mission. This year, InVision will launch a documentary on the role of design in the modern business.
Design Disruptors looks at how 15 top businesses prioritize design in their products and overall user experience. Unlike traditional product videos, Design Disruptors will run in theaters and on Netflix. And unlike traditional product videos, Design Disruptors never actually promotes the product. The goal is bigger than the product.
“We’re trying to bring attention to the increased importance of design in a company’s success,” explains David Malpass, InVision’s vice president of marketing. “A lot of our work is based on doing things that’ll create a positive effect on the design community and that will elevate the role of the designer within their organization.”
Want more tips on creating visual content? Check out this list of the best websites for finding GIFs.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.