You may have noticed that we’ve introduced a new video on our homepage. The video was conceived at the start of 2020, when life was “normal,” but it came to fruition when the coronavirus pandemic hit. As a result, it required substantial rework. We asked our creative team, Boris Geissler and Steve Allen, to share how their thinking changed in line with current events.
We started this project when coronavirus was a small news item from China, and we prepared to launch it when the pandemic truly hit. In what ways did the tone and style of the video need to change?
Steve: The original tone and content of the video was meant to be inspiring and to motivate companies to use their heritage to create “a-ha moments” that could be a catalyst for corporate transformation. As the coronavirus spread and it became more serious, it became apparent that the video’s original triumphant tone was no longer appropriate. Consequently, a more sober, reflective tone was implemented.
Boris: Overall, we had to realize that although we had produced a great promotional video, the tone and message behind it no longer fit the present time. Coronavirus has changed our reality—universally. While we still want to get the word out about what History Factory can do for its clients, it’s essential that we acknowledge this new reality and the challenges we face.
Steve: The trick to creating videos in the present environment is to strike a proper balance in tone and content. No one wants to see a video that is too heavy and funereal. Nor do they want to watch a video so relentlessly upbeat and self-promoting that it seems oblivious to the current situation. And, of course, this balancing act must also feel true to the brand’s attributes and character.
Boris: The challenge with any communication, especially if it involves telling a story, is to reflect on a time and situation that we don’t understand or haven’t even come to terms with ourselves. This new reality, this new way of life, the emptiness, the loneliness, the social distancing, and the fear and anxiety that comes with the unknown must be reflected, especially when one talks about the past, present, or future. And as our main storyline revolved around this exact plot, we saw the need to change it, and we needed to figure out how to sensitively address these unprecedented times.
If you had to pinpoint a few things that needed rethinking regarding the video project, what would they be?
Steve: The overall tone of the video needed to be examined, to dial down the “sky’s the limit” feel and better reflect the uncharted path ahead. New footage was selected to acknowledge the current situation, i.e. business closures, people working from home. We even changed the soundtrack so it sounded less jubilant and more in keeping with the seriousness of the current situation. New copy was written that recognizes the present environment and offers advice on how to return to normalcy. And the voice-over’s tone was also modified, with a less forceful approach to reflect the new messaging.
Boris: We needed to add a sense of perspective. Without acknowledging the crisis and the fact that the world has changed rather abruptly, we’d have no chance to connect to our audience, as our minds are so occupied by this new reality. Also, a sense of empathy and compassion is imperative. We are all in the same boat. Everyone is in need of support—and we’re here, giving the support that we can give. Finally, we need to trust and believe in the future, as vague and uncertain as it currently seems. We will get through this, yet we all need to encourage one another in order to do so.
What advice do you have for others looking to produce videos about their companies in the present situation?
Steve: Companies producing videos during this challenging time would do well to recognize the seriousness of the situation without being either too “gloom and doom” or unrealistically upbeat. They should also offer innovative solutions to this unprecedented moment in history that are appropriate to their brand. And genuinely look for opportunities to create helpful content.
Boris: I think that it is important to support each other. In whatever capacity, helping others—whether it’s family, friends or professional connections—is of the upmost importance these days. While we all understand that we can’t necessarily help each other physically, we can still help mentally and emotionally. That fact must come across in any communication. Furthermore, you must first try to understand the complexity of the situation. We are living in a very complex time, that’s for sure. Yet, even without fully knowing what the future holds, you must be able to put in words—and images—what it is that you are adding to this world in turmoil. If you’re able to distill your message, while putting it in context as it relates to this rapidly changing world, then you will have a message that resonates.