Promotion videos are everywhere. A neat video can help businesses cut through the noise and capture the attention of their audience. But videos can be much more than just promos. Many teams completely overlook using videos for exploring what product to build in the first place. Even worse, most companies miss the chance of creating vision videos to dream about the future together with their customers.
As designers within the tech industry, we often create videos that serve other purposes than standard promos. We use videos to explain, explore and envision new products and services. Each approach has a different balance between fiction and reality and all three have their own challenges and opportunities.
1. Explanation videos
Fiction level: low
Use explanation videos to sell your existing, innovative products
For companies that sell established products, such as soft drinks, perfume or sneakers, standard promo videos might do perfectly fine. When marketing products that have little novelty, videos don’t need to convey so much information as they need to invoke emotions. On the other hand, teams that build something entirely new often need to explain their products as well as promote them.
Well-made explanation videos are informative while still being entertaining. In the video above, we tried to describe the innovtive Advagym features as well as a human connection between a trainer and a gym goer. No one enjoys boring tutorials and striking the right balance between explanation and aspiration can be tricky. The masters of this craft are Sandwich video, who have created numerous enjoyable “this is how it works” videos. You can also find nicely balanced videos on Kickstarter or from tech startups like Wistia.
2. Exploration videos
Fiction level: medium
Use exploration videos to try out what product or feature to build next
Exploration videos are tools for designing better products. Designers typically create different types of visualisations that span from lo-fi sketches to hi-fi prototypes. The fidelity of these visualisations change over time, as the product team grow more certain of what their customers actually wants. Still, surprisingly few teams use video in their design process, even though it is an excellent tool for creating immersive visualisations.
An exploration video is an inexpensive way to show the context in which a potential product or service will be used. Startups can use them to fake different solutions and try out how customers respond to them before investing too much in building a full product. For example, Dropbox famously used a video as a minimum viable product to test if people were willing to try out their product. In the video above, we visualised different ways to interact with the Spiideo platform before the dev team had implemented all of them. By showing this video to early customers, the Spiideo team quickly figured out their priorities.
3. Vision videos
Fiction level: high
Use vision videos to show off your team’s skills, raise money or get acquired
A more advanced and powerful video category is those that envision the future. These types of videos enable teams to show off their innovative capabilities and to earn trust from long-term customers. Even though this type of video doesn’t need a Hollywood sci-fi budget, they have mainly been created by Tech giants such as Microsoft. Some excellent tech visions have also been created by smaller teams or even individuals, such as video wizard Keiichi Matsuda.
In our experience, vision videos are high-risk but with potential high reward. The video above was one of many visions that we created at The Astonishing Tribe to keep our customers inspired and curious about new mobile user experiences. It was viewed millions of times and eventually reached a Canadian tech giant, which lead to TAT’s aqcuisition in 2010. We also believe that another vision video that we created in collaboration with Polar Rose led to their move to Cupertino the very same year but that’s a longer story.