fbpx

Charity Storytelling: Creating Content with a Sensitive Message

Charities, NGOs and activist groups have a clear mission: to share their story in a way that elicits a meaningful emotional response from their audience. This content is often highly sensitive in nature, dealing in distressing themes and images. With this type of communication, the message has to be clear, unambiguous and backed by exhaustive research. If content creators fail to nail the right tone, or portray their characters inaccurately, the message runs the risk of being misjudged and misunderstood.

World Animal Protection || Raising Awareness

At Nucco Brain, we are well-versed in creating animated content for traditional commercial brands, but it’s our work for NGOs like The International Red Cross, WaterAid and World Animal Protection that really challenge us to get the message absolutely right. Here’s how we create powerful storytelling content that raises awareness without heavy-handedly manipulating our audience.

International Red Cross || 3D Animation

Finding the Angle

When we tell a story that involves some form of tragedy, human or otherwise, we first ask ourselves: what are our primary goals in telling this story?

Our aim isn’t to make our viewers feel guilty, it’s to generate awareness of the message. So, while the use of distressing imagery and intentionally emotional narratives have their place within the messaging, we refrain from overuse to the extent of exploitation.

We avoid any cheesy or clichéd call-to-actions that plague content of this kind. If we’ve told our story right, our audience will have stepped into the shoes of our characters and entered their world. The audience should decide to care about the message because they’re moved by the narrative, rather than guilt-tripped by shocking images and sad music.

Charities need to tell personal stories within the environment they are seeking to change. And if viewers reject these, they’re essentially rejecting a part of their humanity.

Doing the Research

At Nucco Brain, we do extremely thorough research into the themes, setting and characters we want to portray. Depending on the subject matter, there may be a cultural divide between the creative team telling the story, and the people being portrayed. Staying culturally sensitive and refraining from being perceived as condescending takes constant self-awareness and communication. We have to ask ourselves, both as individual and as a group, ‘what’s missing here?’

We certainly have a diverse and highly flexible team, but that’s not always enough. Animation, after all, is a collaborative process. We have to share our work frequently, asking all the difficult questions first. Our portrayal of different genders and ethnicities is constantly being vetted, and we have to welcome multiple points of input.

Sometimes, the creative process allows us to work with those who have experience in the field – this is invaluable to understanding the issues being addressed on a personal level.

When we made ‘Brides of the Well’, we were able to glean insights from writer/director Shekhar Kapur, who hails from the area of India where the narrative took place. This allowed us to populate our storyboards with visual elements that would allow the film to feel authentic, from realistic saris to trees from the region.

Water Aid || Brides Of The Well

Creating Believable Worlds and Characters

No matter how stylised the final content may be, our designs are grounded in reality. ‘Brides of the Well’ takes place in a real desert region, and we took visual cues from the geography and anthropology of the Punjab. With this foundation, we could then set the tone or mood of a specific scene. We used darker, lighter, warmer or cooler lighting and colours depending on the needs of the story, while retaining the authenticity of the setting.

One of the most common mistakes made when agencies or brands create sensitive content is to under-develop the characters. All too often, the West has perpetuated the ‘child in distress’ narrative, to damaging effect. To portray people from developing nations as empty husks in need of saving is both disempowering and wrong.

Our two heroines in ‘Brides of the Well’ are real people. They talk, laugh and fight like friends, and there is a universal truth to that element of teenage life that transcends cultural boundaries. People are people, after all. They’re imperfect, but that is what makes them human. Developing them as such will help your audience to connect with them, and by extension, your message.

Even when characters aren’t human, they can still be developed enough to create an emotional response from the viewer. Our video for World Animal Protection featured a baby elephant, taken from the wild and subjected to life as a riding animal for tourists. Everyone can identify with the fear of separation, displacement and cruel treatment. Our poor little elephant displays enough recognisable fear and sadness to make our audience empathise with his predicament.

World Animal Protection || Raising Awareness

Choosing the Right Style

As a visual storytelling studio specialising in animation, we strongly believe that animation is perfect for sensitive messages. That’s because animation and stylisation gives space to the imagination in ways that live-action can’t.

When the human brain is presented with distressing live-action footage, the immediate neurological response can be to reject the message. It’s a protective instinct that makes us shy away from traumatic and disturbing imagery, and may lead some viewers to tell themselves themselves that ‘it doesn’t concern me, and I don’t need to change.’

So why exactly does stylised animation serve to make a message more universal?

You can focus on the message.

Animation allows us to focus on the core message, leaving only the most essential level of communication. Live-action footage is a detailed snapshot of reality, making it more difficult to leverage colours, shapes and visual metaphors. Stylisation, on the other hand, lets us take what we want to use and leave what we don’t.

You’re free of physical limitations.

Animation frees us from physical constraints. It makes little difference to our budget whether we’re animating a dog or a dragon. We can travel in time more freely, without having to source authentic costumes or fly an entire film crew to the desert for several weeks. We can also work closely with our clients to realise our vision, allowing us full control of everything from planning to design.

It’s more relatable.

Animation allows the viewer to step into the shoes of our characters. When the story’s protagonists aren’t photorealistic in appearance, it’s easier to imagine oneself as them. That’s why so many animated Disney films give their villains distinct physical traits, while the heroes are a little more… ‘heroic-looking’. The more detailed a character, the more difficult it is to slide into their slippers and feel what they feel.

It connects with the audience.

Animation makes the message more digestible for casual viewers. With the right animation style, no story will ever look so cartoonish that it won’t be taken seriously.

Striking a balance between a lighthearted visual style and a heavy narrative allows us to connect with human emotion rather than visceral specifics. And that’s a surefire way to ensure that the message is heard, processed and shared in a crowded content marketplace.

Showing Without Telling

There is power in the abstract, or not showing something; in letting the viewer’s imagination fill in the blanks. If we suggest that terrible things are happening using silhouettes, contrast, shadows or visual metaphors, the human mind will connect the dots. It will internalise this message more effectively, because it’s co-creating it.

Our video for ‘World Animal Protection’ implied rather than explicitly showed the most distressing moments in our baby elephant’s life. His mother is killed by poachers off-screen, although the resounding crack of the gunshot is enough to make us fear the worst. This is arguably more effective than forcing our audience to watch her perish.

Similarly, when we made ‘Brides of the Well’ for WaterAid, we didn’t explicitly show the human impact of drought and starvation. Instead, we showed a starving cow to indicate scarcity, and used the background as a character to help tell our story. We wanted to build an immersive world with painterly colours, textures, and small visual details like these to fill in the gaps.

Forced child marriage was a major theme within this story, but we felt that the implication of this practice would be both more powerful and more tasteful than explicitly showing it on-screen. So we showed an old man asleep, while his teenage wife awoke alongside him. Imagination did the rest.

Developing the Brand

Most NGOs prefer to generate conscious awareness primarily through their message, rather than traditional commercial branding. This gives us a lot more freedom to be creative.

The key is to generate an interplay between content and branding that enhances both. In ‘Brides of the Well’, we used very few bright colours throughout. The browns, oranges and yellows of the desert suggest aridity and a lack of moisture. It isn’t until the very end of the video that we finally see the WaterAid logo: a lavish and beautiful water animation in bright blue that, by contrast, brings home a refreshing and positive message.

Making the Viewer Care

It may sound like a no-brainer, but to really make something that resonates with audiences and helps enact the change you want to see in the world, you have to give a monkey’s. Because if you don’t care about the human impact of drought or the cruel elephant-riding industry, why should your audience?

Sensitive messages are much more powerful when they’re subtle, and when they do more than plead for donations. Treat your characters and their stories with the respect and sensitivity they deserve. Let art design and visual cues tell the stories that words can’t. And above all, care about what you’re creating.

Mailchimp signup form

This form subscribes the user to a Mailchimp list
  • Want to stay in the know about our current projects, events and conversations? Sign up for our newsletter below:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

The Recipe for an Effective Branded Explainer Video

A key part of what we do here at Nucco Brain Studios is creating explainer videos, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. Thanks to a potent blend of experience and expertise, we’ve perfected our formula for distilling dry or complex information into fun and engaging videos, animated or otherwise. If you want to grab the attention of your audience, informing them without overwhelming them with information, look no further than Nucco Brain’s recipe for effective explainer videos.

Nucco Brain Designer || Stephanie Ramplin

Before we continue, it’s important to define explainer videos and find out why they’re such a vital part of your content strategy.

What is an Explainer Video?

An explainer video is a promotional piece of content with a twofold purpose: to generate brand awareness, and to explain a complex proposition or service simply. An element of complexity in the information you want to convey is an essential ingredient: most of the explainer content we produce primarily involves untangling and explaining complicated concepts in an easily digestible way. One great example of an effective explainer video is the video we created for ESA with the goal to expand their international partnerships with other businesses in the space technology industry.

ESA || Exploring Space

Why is an Explainer Video useful?

Explainer videos are primarily distributed digitally, and can be appended to an official website, posted on social media or shared via third-party channels. One of paid online media’s great advantages is the fact that you can use detailed parameters to select the audience that will see your video. Therefore, a video about mortgages can be shown to homeowners aged 35+, and one about graduate school options can be shown to students aged 22 to 35.

Blasting your video around the internet is not enough, however. With an average attention span of around 5 to 8 seconds, your viewers need to be drawn into the world that you create. They need a hook to pique their interest and keep them from straying too soon. They need to be able to quickly process your colour scheme and associate it with your brand. And they need to absorb information as they follow a narrative that keeps them engaged. Using this strategic thought process, we developed an explainer video for John Lewis which clarified their new partnership pension scheme.

John Lewis Partnership || Create Internal Engagement

A good explainer video will leave your audience interested in your proposition, impressed by your technical know-how, knowledgeable about your product or service, and engrossed in your brand story.

What to do:

  1. Ask stupid questions.

In many other industries, asking the painfully obvious is stigmatised. Not so here: chances are, your clients are so emotionally and intellectually invested in their business that they will be happy to talk about it at great length and clarify every single aspect of what they do. While this information may be very clear to your clients, it’s nowhere near as clear to their customers. This means that instead of being as clever as you can, you have to take the layman’s perspective.

Assume that your audience knows nothing about the industry, nothing about your brand, and nothing about your product. Ask the banal and idiotic questions: the potential humiliation of sounding uninformed in front of your clients isn’t even remotely comparable to that of creating a video that nobody watches or cares about. It’s an explainer video, not a university lecture.

  1. Develop a clear and appealing style.

This is paramount, and applies to both your chosen tone of voice and visual aesthetic. When developing your style, you have two main considerations:

First, make sure you do not forget the importance of the brand in informing your colour palette, geometric design and communications approach, similar to how we used the Iagon brand colours throughout their entire explainer video communicating their computing system, a branded way to communicate a complicated idea, simply. Wherever possible, avoid emulating what your competitors have created. For your brand to truly shine, it must carve out its own identity in the marketplace and become instantly recognisable as such.

Iagon || Explanimation for Complex Cloud System

Second, embrace simplicity. Your video exists to explain complicated concepts simply; therefore, adopt a clear and well-defined style. The right visuals will enhance and demonstrate without detracting from your core messaging. The wrong visuals (dry, unimaginative or unconnected with the brand) will simply confuse and irritate people.

  1. Be visual.

It might sound self-explanatory and really rather simple, but humans are visual beings: speak their language. Ask yourself how you can show without telling. Simplify your script, and determine which information can be communicated through shape, colour and movement rather than words.

Many of the briefing documents we receive from our clients are highly detailed and verbose, and a large part of our job involves expressing these in the appropriate visual language. We ask ourselves what we can suggest without explicitly spelling it out. Once again, we have to engage our audience in dialogue by introducing an element of passive absorption, which is primarily visual in nature.

  1. Be pedantically aware of short attention spans.

Consider the context in which your video is being viewed: digital audiences are losing their ability to concentrate on one stimulus for extended periods of time. An attention span of 60 to 90 seconds is all you can really ask of your viewer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to condense everything you want to say into one minute, but you do have to consider breaking down your message into shorter and more digestible chunks of content if it’s too long. If one video isn’t enough, make a series – it will cost you the same, but the return will be much greater.

If you’re creating a video for B2B or internal enterprise communications, you have more control over the context in which it’s shown, meaning that you can stretch the length a little if you desire. However, it’s inadvisable even then to do so by too much, as you risk eroding the goodwill of your audience.

  1. Invite the viewer to find out more.

One cardinal limitation of the explainer video is that it can never be fully exhaustive. You can never cover everything there is to know about a product or service in a 60 to 90 second video, due to time constraints, budget and the nature of the format. But don’t despair: that’s not the job of an explainer.

Its job is, funnily enough, to explain the key function, proposition and features of whatever it is you have to offer. Leave out the minutiae and the irrelevant technical specs. Give your audience an incentive to find out the rest for themselves: after all, no matter how impressive your technology or original your idea, if people can’t apply it to their lives, you might as well be peddling leashes for goldfish.

Explainer videos are collaborative experiences: you create the content, and the viewer absorbs and engages with it. Cultivate this relationship and continue the dialogue by generating a Call-To-Action that exhorts them to take further action.

What not to do:

Now that we’ve identified the main ingredients for a perfect explainer video, remember that your project can also burn down the kitchen if you don’t consider these caveats. You’re welcome.

  1. Don’t cram all the information into one video.

Your product or service may have several million incredibly useful and mind-meltingly technical functions, but attempting to list them all in detail would be a grave mistake. Focus on the overview: what are the key features of your offering, and why should your customers care? And if you absolutely have to tell them more, consider turning your explainer into a series.

  1. Don’t assume your specs are enough to keep people interested.

The number of mega-giga-maxi-pixels on your super-smartphone camera is certainly a very important touch-point, and can add a lot to your value proposition. However, these details aren’t enough on their own to carry your product through. Focus on the benefits, which you can then back up with specs. Tell your customer that a certain number of mega-giga-maxi-pixels is more than what their current phone has, and will improve their life by allowing them to take extraordinary pictures of the people and places that matter.

  1. Don’t use too much jargon.

Just because you have a client that specialises in highly technical wording, like an engineering or Blockchain company, does not mean you can assume that customers will understand all the jargon you throw at them. If you want to talk about an industry that might seem inaccessible for some, make it accessible: skip the jargon and use language that caters to the lowest common denominator.

That’s not to say you have to dumb it down completely: after all, you want to make it clear that you have the technical know-how and expertise to back up your claims. Make sure that you use your technobabble wisely and in support of your message, rather than as the message itself.

  1. Don’t follow an A-B-C structure.

This is an explainer video, not a textbook. Information shouldn’t necessarily be given in logical, chronological or alphabetical order. If you want to generate curiosity and engage your viewer within that critical 5 to 8 second window, the exciting material needs to come first. Create a reason for your customers to be interested in your offering that goes beyond ‘first we do this, and then we do that.’ There are very few people, ourselves included, who can really engage with a dry list of ordered key points without any real hook or angle.

  1. Don’t flub up your pacing.

In any film, novel or TV series, pacing is everything. If the action moves forward too slowly, the viewer loses interest and seeks out more dynamic fare. If it moves too quickly, the viewer has no time to breathe, get to know the characters, or find a reason to care about what’s happening. The human brain is hard-wired to absorb narratives at Goldilocks speed (just right!)

Because your explainer video won’t quite generate the same amount of mental engagement as the latest episode of Game of Thrones, you’re going to have to find a way to spark their attention. Articulate your complex exposition with something simple and entertaining that doesn’t get bogged down in the details.

Creative Insights:

We practice what we preach when it comes to explainer content. For example, we were recently approached by Deloitte, who wanted their customers to know about complex economic changes currently being introduced into the Gulf region. A video about VAT implementation in GCC countries could have made for very uninspiring viewing; however, we found an angle and a visual style that both simplified and added an emotional dimension to the subject matter.

Deloitte || Supporting Business

We decided to implement the following narrative: there’s a complex change occurring in your region that has never previously been of concern to you. But Deloitte has been working with tax for many decades. We’re well-placed to let you know what’s happening, what you need to be aware of, and how we can help you.

It’s a simple message, but it speaks directly to the viewer, informing them, alleviating their concerns, and building trust in the brand.

Ultimately, the secret to the perfect explainer video lies in gathering a great deal of information about the offering that you aren’t necessarily going to use. This ensures that you know exactly what the most important talking points are. You can then get to work wording and ordering them in a way that flows naturally and keeps your audience engaged.

Happy explaining!

  • Want to stay in the know about our current projects, events and conversations? Sign up for our newsletter below:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Building Relatable Characters in Branded stories

The right characters can imbue a narrative with pathos, humour, and above all, relatability. A dry brand story can be transformed into an emotionally affecting experience when the viewer identifies with the on-screen sprite, or is familiar with the type of individual it depicts. After all, most of us know (or know of) a Brian – your typical 21st Century millennial hipster, and the bearded face of our studio.

Nucco Brain || At First Sight

A relatable character isn’t necessarily one that looks, speaks and acts in a familiar way, however: even an opera-singing Nile Crocodile can be a relatable character with the right design and animation. In fact, this kind of stylisation is often a very effective character-building strategy because it invites audiences to suspend their disbelief, allowing them to use their imagination to flesh out the narrative world.

So, what is a character?

In order to understand what makes a relatable character, we must first define what a character is. The best way to do this is through the lens of animation: a word which means, quite literally, to bring something to life. In essence, a character is an entity or symbol that is brought to life by animation, writing, or live action. This could encompass anything from a realistic representation of a human being, to a two-dimensional bouncing ball that interacts with the on-screen world. The idea here is to lay out a visual metaphor that also serves as a reference point for the audience.

Characters act according to a set of rules laid out within their world, and are shaped by stimuli within that setting. Our work for World Animal Protection starred a baby Asian elephant captured from the wild, separated from its mother and forced into a life of slavery as a riding animal for tourists.

World Animal Protection || Raising Awareness

We see the development of this character from carefree and innocent to hopeless and downtrodden. This is entirely due to the rules of the setting and the actions of the other characters, as our poor little elephant has found out the hard way.

One of the wonderful things about characters is their ability to write themselves. Once the design, context and motivation of a character has been established, it will act according to the rules of its world, much like a real individual. And audiences will identify with that character’s appeal if it serves a real purpose within the narrative.

Why include characters in a brand story?

Characters aren’t always necessary. While they bring development, personality and momentum to the table, they’re just not required in certain types of content, such as highly technical explainer videos. So the question of whether to characterise or not to characterise is this:

Do we want to make our audience feel empathy?

If the answer is yes, then characters are, hands down, the best way to achieve this.

If creating an emotional response isn’t really the objective, as in more complex digital, financial and tech explainer content, characters aren’t essential. Even when people are a necessary part of the message, they don’t have to be defined or fleshed out quite as much.

The video content we produced for the European Space Agency, for example, used vague human silhouettes rather than full-fledged animated beings.

Iagon || Explanimation for Complex Cloud System

These figures don’t demonstrate agency, action or motivation – they’re simply human shapes intended to contextualise the visuals. Because the purpose of this video is to explain the applications of space technology and satellite networks, adding characters would serve no practical purpose. Characterisation is certainly a budget consideration, but sometimes it can actually detract and distract from the true focus of the video.

Our work for WaterAid, on the other hand, focused on a character-driven narrative that takes the viewer on a journey. The story of a young girl living in poverty and married to a much older man, and her remarkably human spirit in the face of adversity, elevated our message beyond the sum of its parts to deliver a heart-wrenching yet uplifting emotional punch. This is exactly the kind of visceral reaction that any self-respecting NGO wants from its audience.

Saraswati and her best friend, Paras, are heavily stylised, painted with tiny eyes and broad brush strokes. She’s not an abstract stick figure, but also doesn’t look anatomically realistic. The girls are recognisably human, yet painted and animated in an appealingly cartoonish way.

Water Aid || Brides of the Well

They’re enough removed from lifelike that we can focus on telling our story and anchoring it to the setting, without attempting to fully depict complex social issues in the Rajasthani desert. To find out more, refer to our how-to guide on creating content with a sensitive message.

So what makes a character relatable?

That really depends on whether the character in question is created using live action or stylised animation. Live-action characters involve real actors, with all of the facial expressions, movement cues and emotional complexity that come with the world we live in. We use live-action when we want to specifically depict the real world, or create a contrast between different types of animation that visually enforces our message. To use but one example, we deployed a live-action character alongside 3D animation to great effect for InnovateUK.

Innovate UK || Audiences of the Future

But because these characters are realistic in nature, they aren’t always relatable to people of different genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations.

Stylised animation is much more fluid. We prefer this approach as it allows us greater freedom to tell different types of stories, as well as being easier on our wallets. Because animated characters don’t physically resemble the viewer (depending on the level of stylisation) they can stand in for a diverse range of backgrounds and identities. This eliminates the problem of alienating some of our audience by featuring realistic human characters whose lives they simply can’t relate with.

Our Lycamobile Tortoise and Hare don’t belong to any recognisable ethnic or social background. They’re fun, modern incarnations of characters from the classic fable.

Lyca Mobile || 3D Mobile

Their motivations aren’t complex – essentially, to win. But the narrative of overcoming adversity through perseverance and outside-the-box thinking is a universal theme across every culture on Earth.

With animation, anything can be a character, from our speed-junkie tortoise to a simple directional arrow. And the very fact of its inclusion can breathe humour, empathy and life into an otherwise dull explainer.

How are great characters designed?

Even if a character does not move, act or animate in a meaningful way, stunning design and art direction can still carry the torch, engaging the viewer by populating a stylised and eye-catching world that embodies the brand.

We created a vivacious setting for InnovateUK: Audiences of the Future, with memorable characters that pop out of the screen. Each frame is a tableau taken from human oral history, with scenes that breathe, pulsate and change like the stories we hand down across the generations. The characters, however, are very simply animated.

Innovate UK || Audiences of the Future

That’s because they serve the tableau, and don’t require heavy development. And yet, this Witch Doctor has become something of an icon for our studio.

At Nucco, characters are usually described as part of the script, either because they’re called for by the client, or because we believe that their inclusion would best serve the story. We start thinking about character designs early in the process, although we initially keep them very vague and avoid locking down each detail. At the visual development stage, once the script has been signed off, our art directors, illustrators and concept artists are tasked with fleshing out the finer details.

Great character design relies on a few key considerations:

  1. Brand Guidelines.

The character must be a fit for the brand colours, tone of voice and wider visual language. Because brand-building and world-building go hand-in-hand, it’s important to consider each character within a much wider context: that of the current overall style, and that of potential future content.

  1. Client Preferences:

We ask all of the tough questions right at the very start of the process to get a sense of the client’s preferences. Sometimes, our client will know exactly what they want, and their personal taste will inform the project. They may even provide animation references.

In such cases, we create a moodboard that collects these references for approval. Some might think this limits creativity, but we say not so! It simply helps us to understand what the client likes and dislikes, after which we can include our personal preferences and caveats.

  1. Gut feeling:

Sometimes, you have to go with what you feel to be right. That said, it’s not a complete stab in the dark. Our illustrators study the brief, and present three distinct character design variants to the client. We ask them for their pick of choice, although in most cases clients prefer one aspect of one design, and another aspect of another. We then provide a unified concept that incorporates elements of both (or all three.)

If our client doesn’t know exactly what they want, then it’s open season. We suggest options based on what we love, and avoid showing our clients the options we don’t.

  1. Mixing and Matching Influences:

The creative process can’t really be taught: everyone expresses their vision for a character in a different way. One way to appease that Artist’s Block is to take cues from existing animated characters, and extrapolate something new.

Another of our preferred thought processes, however, involves taking two or more distinct things, and mashing them together. For example, if we wanted to create a character for a cleaning company, we could use the concept of maintenance, and add something unexpected – like an aardvark. And just like that, we’ve invented Mr. Aardvark, the Anteater Janitor!

Nucco Brain Art Director || Ryan Lovelock

Even if we are thinking about more realistic characters, there’s still an element of mix-and-match. After all, real people are by far the most confusing mix of influences!

What limitations does every character creator need to be aware of?

The answer is simple: time, budget and groupthink. Time and budget are the bane of character designers and animators everywhere, because they limit what it’s reasonably possible to achieve. If one or the other is lacking, then a character may not come to life as completely as expected, because we’ve hit that technical wall. Groupthink, on the other hand, occurs when the project becomes too collaborative: too many cooks spoil the broth, and too many animators muddy the creative vision. We’ve learned that it’s best to let one (or at most, two) of our supremely talented animators take the creative lead.

Characterisation, when done right, can be the key to content creation success. Here at Nucco Brain, we simply love to conceptualise, visualise, design and animate the characters that fill our rich worlds and stories. And now that we’ve spilled the beans, we’d love to see what you come up with!

  • Want to stay in the know about our current projects, events and conversations? Sign up for our newsletter below:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

VR for Learning Best Practice Guide

A good VR experience is always awesome, but actually making one can feel like a Herculean task. One wrong move, and you end up with a hot mess.

Relax. Here are a few of the hard-learned lessons we’ve picked up building quality VR experiences for the education space.

Follow these golden rules, and you’ll set yourself up for success.

Think Big. Build Small.

VR experiences can be behemoths. And with large-scale projects, the number one problem is always momentum. It starts with a roar, but as the initial excitement starts to wane, people can lose interest.

Arizona State University || Burning The Gaspee VR

In our recent work with Arizona State University, we’ve found it’s better to set achievable goals with tangible milestones to keep momentum. That means starting out small and building iteratively.

Not only does it keep the project moving forward, but it gets to a basic working version faster – and it gives you more opportunities to test and refine your ideas.

Keep the main thing the main thing

It’s important to keep the core learning objectives at the heart of every decision.

At every stage, you should be asking “is this going to help make the learning objectives clearer or not?” If the answer is no, it’s a good sign you’re heading down the wrong (and potentially costly) road.

Collaborate with experts

No matter how much you get into your subject matter, you’re not going to have the same expertise as people who have been studying it for 20+ years.

By working with subject experts, you get the best of both worlds – their deep knowledge of the subject and your skill in developing the experience.

Match the medium with the message

VR’s no silver bullet solution. As much as we’d like it to be, it’s not always the right technology for every subject matter. And considering the expense of developing a quality VR experience, it’s important to make sure it’s the right tech for the learning objectives.

For more abstract concepts, like algebra, VR could be a colossal waste of both time and money.

Do what the textbook can’t

But there are many areas where VR excels. Because users get to experience a place and time that might otherwise be impossible, it can be incredibly effective for history and science – like our onboarding VR experience for EDF Energy.

EDF Energy || Nuclear Symphony

VR is powerful, so it’s important to keep it focussed. You want to make the most of the immersive and memorable VR-ness, rather than including elements that could be better communicated outside the experience.

It’s also important to make the experience intuitive, so users can begin the experience without too much faffing around. The easier and more straight-forward your experience, the faster users get to learning, and the more effective and enjoyable it is.

Make it work before you make it beautiful

This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often we see function sacrificed on the altar of form.

The fact is, a VR experience can be a stunning environment – that’s what makes it such a compelling and memorable medium. But it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetic and miss the point. 

By keeping the focus on the function, you make sure that the experience actually delivers on what it’s designed to do.

You can dress it up nice once you’ve got it working.

Choose the platform for the people.

Are you looking for the most accessible platform? The best performance?

A big part of that comes down to who the audience is, where they are, and what they have access to. Working with ASU, we chose Google Cardboard. With many of their students being distance-learners, we needed a platform that was readily available and compatible with most smartphones.

For other projects requiring room-tracking or hand-based interaction, we’ve used other platforms.

Don’t forget assessments

So you’ve created your VR experience, and you’ve done everything right. You’ve tied every decision to the learning objectives, you’ve maximised the VR capabilities, and you’ve collaborated with experts to make sure the experience is up to snuff.

But what really sells education providers on your experience is linking into course material with well thought through assessments.
By reinforcing the key learnings, it shows them how much more effective it is – that it’s not just a gimmick, but it works.

Nucco Brain specialises in creating immersive and memorable active learning experiences, working with world-leading universities to implement active, adaptive learning into their curriculums.

Contact us to find out how we can create an immersive experience for you.

 

HOW IS CONTENT SHAPING CULTURE IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

With complex, fast-growing economies and significant investment over recent decades, Middle Eastern countries have seen growth across a host of new sectors.

Although the region has historically been known for oil, now the spotlight is moving to areas like culture and tourism. In Saudi Arabia in 2017 alone, the newly launched General Entertainment Authority put on over 2,000 events, pledging to commit over $64 billion to arts, culture and tourism in the next 10 years. And that’s just one area in the Middle East!

The challenge is communicating the diversity that travel in the Middle East offers to an international audience that’s unfamiliar with the region’s culture and customs. As Day Translations mentioned in their article Doing Business in the Middle East, understanding a little about the culture before visiting can make your travel much more rewarding.  And that’s where Nucco Brain stepped in, helping to communicate some of the socioeconomic and cultural developments over the past three years.

A Journey Through History

The Middle East is a fantastic melting pot of cultures, religions and ethnicities. Each has its own history and story to tell, and a special approach is needed to do this effectively while educating audiences from around the globe.

Take the Lost City of Wubar in Oman. This important archaeological site uncovers an ancient oasis in the middle of the desert, giving visitors a true sense of the history and culture of the country. So how do you transport people there, giving them a visceral sense of ancient Oman? To powerfully capture imagination we created an animated narrative journeying through ancient times to the present day, offering an immersive experience in an expansive 15-metre space in the Wubar Information Centre.

Tourism In Abu Dhabi

Go on other well-trodden paths like Europe for your travels, and you’ll find a raft of resources guiding you on what to see and do. Not so much for the Middle East. So how do you get across all the region has to offer in an informative, engaging, bite-sized form?

We collaborated with Leo Burnett Dubai and Abu Dhabi Culture to explore the best ways to do just that. With so much ground to cover in terms of communicating all there is to see and discover, Abu Dhabi Culture wanted to push people to their new digital offering. Through their website, app, social media channels and podcasts audiences can learn about the area and plan their trip. To get this across in an unforgettable way, we developed an animation that took viewers through their digital platforms to give them the know how to start their own planning.

Bolstering Business In The Region

Outside investment has created a booming business economy in the Middle East. But this comes with its own set of rules and regulations for international businesses to take on board. Perfect example – the new VAT and Excise Taxes being implemented in the Middle East.

Being up to speed with this latest development is more than essential for companies operating in the region, so Deloitte & Touche and Nucco Brain looked at ways of communicating this to a business audience. Like most tax systems, the intricacies could make it a lengthy process to explain. We condensed this into impactful infographics and videos to guide Deloitte’s pitching, training and education sessions with clients.

Business, culture, tourism –  whatever the sector the Middle East is one exciting area with big ambitions. And at the heart of every communication there’s a need to entice, educate and engage people with brand new information. By doing things a little differently, we’ve been able to do just that.

A Guide To Animation Jargon

Are you new to the world of animation? Have Animation Jargons got you all flustered? Well, have no fear because we’ve put together a simple guide on how you can get down to brass tacks and transform yourself from an animation amateur to an animation master.

2D
2D refers to two-dimensional animations (height and width) on a flat surface. This approach is perfect for more stylised animations like explainer videos and internal communications. As it requires less animation and technical work, it can be a more efficient and inexpensive alternative to 3D animation.

World Animal Protection || Example Of 2D Animation 

3D
3D refers to three dimensional animations with height, width and depth. They’re built with virtual objects using 3D software and then rendered as 2D images for screen. 3D gives a more realistic, immersive feeling by using virtual sets that allow the director to pick shots even after the action has been captured.

Lycamobile || Example Of 3D Animation 

Amends
At each stage of the animation process, you get a chance to feed back to make sure we’re aligned with your vision. It’s good to get as much of this done as possible in the pre-production phase, because it becomes much more time-consuming to make changes once we begin production.

Animatic
In its simplest form, an animatic gives you a sense of the flow of the animation with an idea of the pace and timing.  A more complex animatic could be a basic version of the animation showing the camera movement and characters and props moving.


Rebel Girls || Behind The Scenes Animatic 

Animation
Put simply, animation is a series of frames that give the illusion of movement when shown in succession. With animation, your only limit is imagination. Animation lets you create entire worlds without being restricted to real life physics or locations. So if your subject doesn’t exist and you want it to look slick and professional, animation is for you.

AR
Augmented Reality describes inserting virtual aspects into real world settings using mobile apps.It’s an ideal approach for showing how something could look in the real world when it’s not practical to show it physically. The IKEA Mobile App or Pokemon Go are good examples of AR, using real environments for digital executions.

Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio describes the ratio of width to height of an animation. It’s important to know where you want to deploy your animation so we can deliver it in the right aspect ratio.

Asset Creation
Asset Creation is the stage of the process where we create the raw elements for your animation. Whether it’s a hat, a background, a character or typography – if it needs to move in the animation, it’s a part of asset creation.

Camera Cut
This refers to a change in the visuals, from one shot to another.
It’s often used for a change of perspective, drawing the viewer’s attention to something important.

Rebel Girls || Behind The Scenes Camera Cut

CG/CGI
Computer graphics, or computer-generated imagery, describes everything drawn or created with computer software for a visual outcome.

Innovate UK || Example Of CG

Claymation
See Stop motion.

Colour script
A colour script is a series of images, usually painted, showing the mood of a certain scene. It can be useful for setting a mood for each scene.

Colour grading
Grading means the process of altering an image’s colour balance.
An example of colour grading could be turning a regular colour picture into sepia or desaturating it. Sometimes it’s called ‘colour correction’.

Compositing
Compositing is the process of adding layers of images to create a final image. Usually, it applies to image sequences rendered from 3D in separate layers. Compositing can also be used to put together layers of film output and photography to create a final image sequence.

Format
Format describes the way the animation is presented. This can include things like aspect ratio and file size and type.

Frame
A frame is a still image from an animation. When played as part of a succession of images, it gives the illusion of movement.

Frame rate / FPS
The frame rate refers to the number of frames per second.
Usually, it’s around 25 to 30, but with digital film, it can be anywhere between 12 and 60. It’s down to whether you’re looking for a feel that’s more retro and stylised or smoother and hyper-realistic.

Sinbad || Example Of Frame Rate

Layout
This is a pre-animation stage where cameras, characters, props, and all objects are arranged in a scene for animation.

Lip-Sync
Lip-sync refers to animating a mouth to make sure it’s in time with speech. 

 Example Of Lip-Sync

Post-Production
Post-production refers to everything that happens after the production stage. It includes colour grading, editing, sound design and VFX.

Pre-Production
The pre-production phase includes preparation for production, including research, finding artwork references, developing the story, designing characters, sets, props, creating an animatic, creating a storyboard and upgrading it to an animatic, etc.

Iagon || Example of Pre Production Styleframes  

Production
The actual work once the preproduction stage is done. In a 3D pipeline, for example, it means modeling, texturing, shading, rigging, dynamic simulations, lighting and rendering.

Prop
A prop is any object that can be used by a character in the animation.

Reaction
An action can be followed by a reaction to that action, and this reaction can be that of the character, of the ambient, of an object… (like if you fly and hit a wall, the hit is a reaction). Reaction can be used with great effect in film when you have multiple layers of reaction (you hit a wall, the wall fractures, you fall down, the wall fractures some more, the wall collapses on top of you, the entire construction that was held by that wall collapses, the entire city is left in darkness because the construction was an electrical power plant or something… and so on, an entire chain of events).

Scene
Normally referred to as a sequence of shots where all the action happens within a given space and time, with no jumps to a different space and/or time.

Set
The happy place where the action happens. In 2D there might be painted backgrounds, but in 3D or stopmotion you need to build the set from the ground up.

Shot
The smallest sequence of a film or animation, the amount of time in between two camera cuts.

Shooting
The process of recording images on film using a real camera. Usually nobody gets hurt.

Soft Accent
An accent created by a moving object or body or articulation without changing the direction of action but simply alternating timing and spacing – introducing fast movement in slow action and vice versa. The contrast doesn’t need to be significant to be noticeable. Basically, you “hit” and continue in the same direction.

Stop motion
Animation with real-world puppets, where the camera takes a picture and then the animators rearrange the puppet, the camera takes another picture, and so on. Basically, we have a camera that is “stopped at every frame” (also called stopframe animation, stopmo, claymation – when the puppets are clay sculptures).

Storyboard
Consisting of a sequence of basic drawings pinned to a board, the storyboard is a key stage  in the pre-production phase of an animation, giving a sense of the structure and pace to the story. This is the best time to make changes to the structure, as drawings can be edited, scrapped, rearranged on the board, or replaced with new ones.


Rebel Girls || Example Of Storyboard 

Visual Effects / VFX
Visual effects refers to everything that needs to be added to film footage to create final effect. This can include 2D and 3D graphics, compositing, colour grading, etc.

VR
Virtual Reality is an immersive experience in which the audience is transported to an entirely digital world using a headset. An effective tool for education, Virtual Reality allows audiences to experience environments that are either impossible or unsafe to visit physically without real world consequences.

EDF Energy || Example of VR

Thinking about kicking off an animation project?
Get in touch with our experts today and let’s turn your vision into something spectacular.

 

The Making Of Your Story: Working With Nucco Brain

Never worked with a creative studio like ours?  Being involved in the creative process can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before, or even sometimes if you have! You might already be wondering where to start or what milestones are included in making a new piece of creative content. That’s why we’ve laid out our step by step process to animation, so you can understand your involvement before the process begins. 

Not sure of some of the terms that get used in the production process? Check out our animation jargon post which clarifies terms that we use within the studio that may be unfamiliar to some of our clients. 

Still feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we’ve got dedicated account managers who will always be at hand to walk you through the process. 

Let’s tell your story together. 

Nucco Brain Client Process

HOW TO REDUCE PRODUCTION TIME AND COST FOR YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY

“Companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.” – Aberdeen.

So, in reality, omni-channel is important for obtaining and retaining customers.

Simple as that.

Nucco Brain || TrueTime Rendering

With that said, having the knowledge of how to maximise production (i.e how to create content that works across all these fabulous channels) is still something of a rarity. This leads to duplication, lack of consistency and poor use of budget and time.

This means marketers are left with less time, less budget, less freedom to try anything new or bold.

Sad times.

Traditionally, advertising, marketing and communications agencies might have helped out here. They develop strategies to bring consistency and ‘one voice’ to the communications. They plan production pipelines to deliver in line with the strategy and available budget.

With the need to produce a range of different content, in an agile, multi-channel manner, the traditional agency model is being tested by shifts in the market (specifically the less time/budget/freedom to try anything new or bold conundrum).

Internal marketing teams are either taking production in-house or are asking a number of specialist studios to provide a different piece of their content marketing puzzle. This can come with its own set of problems – from the Chinese whispers’ effect of communication between studios to the different ways of approaching production – and can actually lead to more issues than were encountered with a more traditional agency approach.

A Production Workflow designed with Cross-Channel in mind

At Nucco Brain, we have developed a bespoke production workflow for cross-channel, agile and scalable production. With this workflow, we can produce visual content that works in more traditional ways (visual branding, animation, etc) but then expands them across the range of digital channels (interactive videos, gamified learning/training content, digital OOH, AR, VR, etc).

Nucco Brain || TrueTime Rendering

We call this workflow TrueTime Rendering – leveraging game engine technology to produce content in ways that can be upscaled in an agile manner. We can produce flat video content with it. We can then turn it into a 360º video, using the very same assets. We can then add interactivity to this content with a few extra clicks (I’m oversimplifying but, again, it’s the same assets and the same engine). We can then develop this further, to an AR or VR experience (again, using the same assets and the same engine).

There’s no need to export to another format and ‘adapt’ it to another engine to scale up the experience. The TrueTime Rendering workflow means we can reuse all the assets and add on the bits we need, as and when needed. No more ‘I wish we’d built that with VR in mind’ moments – our workflow allows for these considerations to come up as and when fits the business needs.

Nucco Brain || TrueTime Rendering

Cut out the rendering time

One of the main benefits of utilising a game engine for the development of content is the rendering times.

Traditional 3D content production, using the likes 3DS Max, Maya or After Effects, comes with its own set of problems. While the power of these applications is undeniable, for some things it’s just not needed.

Nucco Brain || TrueTime Rendering

You may be familiar with the idea of having to change a production asset, or animated sequence, or lighting setup, or whatever other change you wanted to see happen in the content you were making. You then have to hit render and go for a walk/go to lunch/leave it running over night. The main issue with this is, after waiting all that time, you may want to make another change… that’s a lot of dead time for some potentially minor changes, even with access to a render farm.

The TrueTime Rendering workflow is based on using a game engine – one built for real-time rendering on a multitude of devices. Given the engine itself is built to render in real-time, the render time for any piece of content should be about as long as the content itself.

Nucco Brain || TrueTime Rendering

Producing a 1 minute animation? Don’t like that last animated sequence? TrueTime Rendering will have your changes ready to view in approximately 1 minute. Want to add in some additional interactivity? Once you’ve set the parameters, give it about 1 minute and you’ll be able to test them out.

From a client/studio point of view, this means you can iterate away without the dead time that’s plagued production processes for so long – rendering! This means you can try things out without the fear of a wasted iteration, taking hours to put back to where it was (instead of the minutes it would take with TrueTime).

Style = Substance

There are some cases where TrueTime isn’t the answer. Photo-real CGI, live action or photography, Hollywood-level VFX – that’s not really what TrueTime is about.

We developed the workflow specifically for high-output, multi-channel communications. Video series, interactive learning, AR walls, virtual reality experiences – that’s TrueTime’s bag.

For TrueTime to work at its best, we need to turn to the power of stylisation. Bear with me while I go a little off-pitste here and talk about comic book theory. I promise you, it’s relevant to B2B and corporate communications too.

Scott McCloud, a leading comic’s theorist, shows us why stylisation works wonders when trying to engage with a broad audience (he talks about comic book readers – I’m drawing the parallel to communications). We live in an increasingly symbol/icon/emoji-based world and already engage with the idea of stylisation – these symbols can be understood as an image utilised to represent a place, person, object or idea.

McCloud says humans are a“self-centered race”, unconsciously looking for ourselves in what we see. In this way, a simple cartoon such as a circle with two dots for eyes and a line for lips silently communicates to its readers that this is a face. Importantly, it is impossible for the reader not to see a face, because our minds are programmed to recognise and relate this icon back to ourselves.

So, back to the point of why stylisation works for what we’re talking about here: B2B and corporate comms.

When we talk about illustration, animation, infographics, CGI, VR, AR, etc – stylisation enhances storytelling because it lets the audience focus on the message, as opposed to whether or not the characters in the story are an accurate representation of who they are.

The message comes through stronger and connects with the audience effectively.

Job done.

The well-oiled production machine

For large businesses with many stakeholders (their customers, their suppliers, their employees, their shareholders, etc) getting a consistent, effective, engaging content calendar together can cause headaches. Constant engagement of these various audiences – coordinated across a number of marketing teams spread over a number of international markets – well, that can keep people up at night.

John Lewis || Internal Engagement

As technology and creativity become more intertwined, there’s no need for B2B or corporate comms to suffer from a lack of innovation when it comes to content production. If the marketing team’s job is to define the vision and mission of the business, this shouldn’t be obstructed by convoluted production approaches.

TrueTime Rendering offers a real solution for creative visual content production, giving time and flexibility back to marketing teams. The ability to scale an idea all the way up from print to a VR headset leads to increased campaign longevity, more cost-effective budgets and an agile timeline that responds to the needs of the business.

 

 

BRANDS ARE THE NEW CONTENT PUBLISHERS. THEY JUST DON’T KNOW IT YET

Over the past years, more and more brands have been using content marketing to produce highly successful marketing campaigns. Yet, despite the concept’s popularity, the term still holds many mysteries for those trying to jump on the bandwagon.

The idea behind content marketing is to promote a brand through engaging content that will appeal to potential customers, rather than selling a product or service directly. A classic example is Red Bull. Through its digital channels and worldwide sports events, Red Bull has established itself as the go-to for anyone in search of an adrenaline rush – a much more exciting experience for potential customers rather than the simple taste of an energy drink. Content marketing often taps into enhancing customers’ lifestyle with content that will attend to their wants, rather than needs. But above all, to achieve success, content marketing campaigns rely on storytelling.

A few months ago, an interesting challenge arrived at Nucco Brain’s door:

Innovate UK, the national agency that supports science and technology innovations, asked our studio to help them in reaching out to a wider audience. The main task revolved around the development of a content marketing strategy for Innovate UK’s digital and social media channels, followed by the production and distribution of the content itself. Through this project, we experienced the benefits of empowering a brand in becoming a content publisher firsthand. 

Innovate UK || Predictions

Here is why we believe brands should adopt content marketing as an advertising strategy:

Brands no longer compete against each other, but the entire media landscape.

With the massive amount of content uploaded daily on the Internet, people are used to having a wide choice of different media to consume. As this article is being written, the Internet Live Stats indicate that there are 3,658,133,031 Internet users in the world, 3,588,547 blog articles have been written, and 4,393,865,056 videos have been viewed on YouTube in just one day. To survive in this fierce environment, brands should no longer ask themselves “how can I make customers buy my product through media?” but instead “what unique experiences can media provide for my customers?” – and in the process, take control of their own brand storytelling through content marketing.

It is crucial for brands embarking on the content marketing journey to develop a strategy: the content should be both consistent in its style and of high quality. What do we want our audiences to do and what type of content do they crave are important questions to consider.

Innovate UK || Predictions

Nucco Brain’s approach with Innovate UK was to use our visual storytelling expertise to create the right tools for the organisation to use as content publishers. To do so, we developed different extensions of the Innovate UK brand, each with a distinct visual style. These included animated guidelines, format structure documents and visual designs that have been used by all Innovate UK’s content service providers to generate consistent productions.

 People are selective about the content they watch

Therefore brands should be selective about who they create content for. Yes, the Internet has become marketeers’ favourite playground, but time is precious, and people are extremely selective about where they spend it online. This is where content marketing benefits brands, a targeted audience is more likely to be interested and follow engaging content rather than direct advertising.

At Nucco Brain we believe the content should ideally be both informative and entertaining.

As part of our collaboration with Innovate UK, we were responsible for rebranding their YouTube Channel. Our studio created four different video formats and pilots episodes, effectively sub-brands of Innovate UK, focused on engaging with different segments of the organisation’s target audience:

  • Predictions: Aimed for the general public and informed millennials, a series of short episodes predicting what the future will look like in twenty to thirty years time.
  • Game Changers: A series showcasing stories of extraordinary entrepreneurs who are part of a minority or are discriminated; highlighting the challenges and successes of their journey.
  • Essential Selection: This format presents animated infographics of top tips and useful insights from aspiring and young entrepreneurs.
  • Success Stories: revolves around companies that Innovate UK has invested in and details how the organisation has supported their growth.
Innovate UK || Predictions

The results

Fifteen months after the campaign’s implementation, Innovate UK has seen an 8% increase in awareness amongst its target audience due to the new strategy. Meanwhile, the YouTube Channel has registered an 650% increase in subscriptions and an 875% increase in content views. Also, Innovate UK has gained 125% boost in organic placements with external, relevant publishers and sector influencers.

As Pete Wilson, digital communications manager at Innovate UK, said: “ The insights fed into our content strategy contributed significantly to us reinventing our approach to content; this coupled with distribution expertise has massively increased our visibility”.

 

GDPR IS HERE: HOW TO COMMUNICATE CORPORATE CHANGES EFFECTIVELY

The time has come where we can no longer hide away from GDPR. As of this week, on May 25th 2018, the new legislation came into force, replacing the old and outdated Data Protection Act, to protect people’s personal data.

Nucco Brain || GDPR

Getting your team GDPR-ready

Being GDPR ready does not only mean complying with the new legislation, you also need to provide your staff with the knowledge and the tools to work within the new regulations. Effective training and communication campaigns are the key for ensuring your teams are onboard and in-the-know.

When it comes to communicating new legislation, our team has collaborated with Deloitte M.E on a variety of projects. One of these included explaining the concept and implementation of VAT and Excise taxes to a business audience unfamiliar with the concept in the Middle East.

 

Deloitte || VAT

Through infographics and videos, we helped local businesses explain complicated tax systems to their audience in an easy-to-understand narrative. In the same way, visual storytelling is a smart, memorable approach to communicating essential information on the GDPR. Here’s why:

An interesting hook gets more attention

What’s drier than communicating the specifics of a new, complicated legislation? The answer is, not many things. For most, reading through the intricacies of a new regulation is less engaging than watching paint dry. Visual storytelling can bring important to life. By creating a hook that will capture the viewer’s attention, you can take them on a journey from awareness, to basic info, to the more detailed information and small print in a few logical, memorable steps.    

Nucco Brain || At First Sight

Simplifying complex info makes it accessible

Rather than swamping people with technical jargon and overly complicated content, visuals allow you to communicate intricate ideas in bitesize form. This will effectively break down the reams of information your business audience might find online into relevant, salient points.

Storylines make it personal

Telling a story with a personal angle is the fastest way to connect with an audience. Visual storytelling gives you the platform to do just that. By creating characters and storylines that resonate, you’ll be speaking to your audience on a level. Being able to identify with the narrative is one powerful way of ensuring messages are absorbed and understood.   

Rolls Royce || Social Media Etiquette

Ultimately, GDPR is here, and it’s set to revolutionise the way we hold and use data. Being on top of the changes at all levels of your business is essential to avoid those fines. Through creative communication and visual storytelling, you can drive an effective GDPR comms campaign that resonates and stays with your audience.

COULD VR SAVE YOUR CORPORATE COMMS?

Corporate communication has had a certain reputation for being dry and un-engaging in the past. But new technologies like VR are now increasingly becoming part of the modern business world, and companies are catching onto the benefits of integrating them into their corporate comms strategy.

VR, AR and 360 videos are just some of the ways businesses are connecting with their audiences. And not just for external communication, but for business training purposes and internal campaigns too. The innovative use of tech like this gives companies a new way of creating immersive training experiences and unforgettable comms pieces. All powerful stuff when you want to drive engagement.

How can VR fit into your comms strategy?

Strategic content creators are now opening the doors to fresh possibilities in VR and 360 videos. Providing brands with a platform to visualise the future of their industry, or engaging with a holographic executive delivering a comms message are just some of the opportunities it offers. VR is also incredibly freeing as it enables companies to put people in impossible situations in a controlled way.

For example, with one of our projects, EDF Nuclear Symphony, we helped public audiences and stakeholders to understand how a nuclear reactor works through a VR experience.

EDF || Nuclear Symphony

Adapting this to your particular business and needs is key to making it work. Essentially, the user can walk through a digitally rendered environment, allowing them to react to a situation as it unfolds. For training in areas like first aid, operating machinery and policing, VR can be an invaluable tool. By creating the right kind of experience for the user, companies are in stronger position than ever to engage with immersive, educational interactive experiences.  

Is VR a cost-effective training tool?

When it comes to investing in new tech, it’s important to know how it will benefit the business as a whole. Another core use of VR for corporate comms is to let people travel without moving, which presents exciting cost effective training and learning opportunities. As opposed to hiring a trainer or arranging a specific location for the training to take place, users can hop online and start learning.

For example, Unit 9’s project Lifesaver VR aimed to teach CPR skills to the general public through a VR app easily downloadable from any phone. The results? In tests with a selection of schoolchildren, teenagers’ confidence in performing CPR increased from 38% to 85%. And all those tested said they were more likely or MUCH more likely to perform CPR in a real emergency.

Unit 9 || Lifesaver VR

This makes it an accessible tool to be sure, but the ways of engaging with tech like this doesn’t end there. Now, you can find VR and 360 capabilities everywhere, including platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo, making reaching your intended audience easier than ever.

Are VR’s possibilities limitless?

The short answer is, not yet. Understanding the power, uses and limitations of VR will stand you in good stead if you’re keen to integrate the tech into your corporate comms. Don’t forget, VR is a great hook, but it’s an individual experience and users will need to plug in with a headset. So, you can see how reaching a big audience could be problematic.

Using VR in tandem with other digital content such as video and infographics are the best way to encourage interaction. You can also broadcast 360 videos of real life action to larger groups to give them a similar experience. This will give you the thrust to engage with a mass audience, while creating an invaluable additional touchpoint for VR users.

Innovate UK || Predictions

We used this approach when working on Innovate UK’s Predictions: Day in a Life 360 video for the organisation’s trade show by creating an immersive experience inside a dome. This experience allows Innovate UK to engage with its industry partners and the general public on the subject of technological innovation.

Using VR and 360 videos as a smart element of your communications toolkit, is certainly the way forward.

WHY VISUAL STORYTELLING DOES CORPORATE COMMS LIKE A PRO

For a company, general communication in the digital age can be tricky, and internal communication can be a real challenge, given the diversity of people working for it. Over formalised emails and meetings are just not enough anymore and can easily lead to a lack of engagement or misunderstanding of the key messages.

At Nucco Brain we help big and small companies telling their stories in the most effective way. Above brand storytelling, we specialise in ultra-effective corporate comms, both external and internal. When searching for the most powerful strategy to deliver a message, we always keep in mind the golden rule of storytelling: your audience wants to be both informed and engaged.

More and more brands are turning to the visual storytelling industry to tell their stories and rightly so since visual content keeps proving to be the simplest and most engaging way to send a message.

The lack of direct human interactions -voice, look, gestures- makes room for ambiguity; using visuals is one of the best ways to express the tone as well as the content.

Let’s take a look at a case study that we worked on recently to see how we applied visual storytelling to an internal change campaign.

Rolls Royce Engineering || Social Media Etiquette

Internal corporate comms case study: Rolls-Royce Engineering

Getting your employees up to speed with the latest technology, trends, and corporate guidelines is far from easy. Finding the right way to communicate important changes, such as a new training program, is essential for the company’s overall well-being.

Rolls Royce Engineering || Social Media Etiquette

We worked with Rolls-Royce Engineering to produce a video that aimed to inform employees about the company’s social media policy and to promote social media awareness in the work’s place. Quite a delicate topic to address, as it may sound like Rolls-Royce telling its staff what they should and should not post on their social channels. A message that could easily come across as invasive or even censoring.

We took this difficulty into account and realised a 3-minute video that explained why it’s so important to be mindful of any kind of activity on social media. We created Rollo, a stylised character that would generate empathy with all the employees of RR, no matter their geographic location. As a result, the explanatory video delivered Rolls Royce’s view on the subject to 15 countries and was complemented with supporting images on the company intranet and social media channels.

Rolls Royce Engineering || Social Media Etiquette

An explanatory video – among other equally powerful steps of a visual campaign – can provide employees with the safety and satisfaction in understanding where the company is headed and the importance of their involvement.

 

NUCCO BRAIN’S RECIPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL BRANDED CONTENT YOUTUBE SERIES

The Internet has changed the way people consume content. According to expert Nicolas Carr, writer of the book The Shallows, the Web is rewiring our brain – changing the way we think and remember in the process. One of the results is that our attention span is shorter, which is a challenge for brands reaching out to their audience. Therefore, many turn to online content marketing as a way to approach this challenge.

We collaborated with Innovate UK, the national agency that supports science and technology innovations, to produce different video formats for their YouTube Channel as part of their new digital content marketing strategy. One of these series, “Predictions”, has been particularly successful. “Predictions” is a series of short 3 minutes videos explaining what daily life will be like in a few years.

Innovate UK || Predictions

The challenge brought to us by Innovate UK was to maximise the visibility and engagement of their YouTube channel.

Our solution? We believe that video views, engagement, and awareness grow exponentially, due to our focus on the following 3 steps recipe:

1) Research & Strategy

  • Know your audience: Who do you want to reach? What kind of content do they like? Where do they spend time online? With Innovate UK, we first focused on engaging with different sub-brands of the organisation by creating a specific video format for each targeted audience segment – taking into account the different needs of each.
Innovate UK || Predictions
  • Have a theme: What is your brand’s area of expertise? What themes related to it could be transformed into a concept for a video series? We decided to highlight Innovate UK’s expertise in sciences, innovation, and technology throughout “Predictions”. Remember, storytelling is key in engaging your target audience, and most people engage with either informative or entertaining content. Thorough research into a relevant theme will ensure that the content is both rich with information and tells an entertaining story.

2) Relevant Content Creation

  • Format is key: Apart from ensuring that the format fits the needs of the target audience, consistency in style is crucial. Ask yourself: how can I best illustrate my chosen theme in a way that is original and unique? With “Predictions” we chose to mix live footage interviews of Innovate UK’s futurologists with animated graphics of their future predictions. This combination resulted in a series of videos that provides both information by experts and an engaging visual universe.
Innovate UK || Predictions
  • Video length matters: Your audience is accustomed to viewing very short videos on YouTube; no longer than 1-5 minutes max. Keep in mind that not every format can fit every length – it is important to find the right pace that condenses information without overloading your audience..

3) Smart Distribution

  • Think Multichannel: Even though your video will be published on YouTube, all content created should be shareable on any other social media platforms. This means that all your brand’s’ social media platforms must be consistent in style so that the video’s style blends in.
Innovate UK || Predictions
  • Create an editorial calendar: Essentially, how often will the content be published? Unlike one off advertising campaigns aiming to attract as many potential customers through one action, content marketing is a continuous initiative over a long period of time. The aim is to get your target audience to follow your brand on a daily basis. Establishing an editorial calendar will leave time for your target audience to share previous content and recommend your channel.

 

 

Insights from our world