December 21, 2023 by Lillian Constantine
This makes sense, being the leading form of media that brands reach for when showcasing a new product, scheme or service. But here at Bearded Fellows video agency, drawing the line at video is a huge faux pas. We’ve spent the last year pushing our clients to explore new creative avenues and dip their toes into multimedia puddles.
It can be easy for brands to stick to conveying messages with a tried and tested ‘safe’ approach, but audiences get bored. We encourage exploration to re-engage audiences, looking for new and dynamic ways to create content, which is essentially, storytelling.
One of our clients that has embraced the various outputs on offer is the international educational company, Kaplan.
Animation, live action, a new YouTube series, podcasts, case studies and carousels; this year Kaplan leapt into the lot and the results speak for themselves.
We kicked off the year with an ad video that showcased Kaplan’s trailblazing software, Power BI. We weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel with this one. A slick combination of shots from Kaplan’s real offices, some jazzy graphics, a handful of energised actors and you have yourself a sharp, informative video.
Stepping away from live action, 2023 was peppered with Kaplan animation. Why do we love animation so much? The answer is simply that there are no limitations. You need coins to fall from the sky? Sure. How about some textbooks floating around space. Easy.
We love to see animation scripts evolve when our clients lean into its art form and realise its potential. Boundaries come down, ideas start to form. We not only have some wildly talented in-house animators, we’ve got a healthy list of freelance creatives who all add their own flare in creating bespoke content, keeping things fresh.
And an underrated profession that more people should applaud? Voiceover artists. With the right kit (it easily fits in a bag for life) they can work just about anywhere.
It’s a brilliant “Aha!” moment hearing a script that’s been doing the rounds finally get brought to life by the right flavour of voice. The delivery and tone of a voiceover can completely change the emotional output of a script, and it’s something we give a lot of time and energy to. And I won’t lie, listening to voiceover auditions can be one of the most entertaining endeavours production has to offer, simply because there are a lot of strange people out there who all have a unique interpretation of what ‘say it with energy’ means.
And speaking of voices, I guarantee you know at least one friend who’s said they’re starting a podcast. Podcasts have blown up recently. Perhaps it’s a lockdown hangover, when loneliness made us crave human voices bouncing between our four walls, 18 hours a day. Or maybe in this new era of mindfulness, we are all trying to talk less and listen more. Either way, Kaplan was keen to get involved and we continued creating the Learn Better podcast.
The simplicity and variety of podcasts is a beautiful thing. It’s like eavesdropping on something juicy, but you can fine-tune the subject matter. The Learn Better podcast, hosted by Stuart Pedley-Smith, explores all things study-related, which is a very broad topic. So we bagged a good mix of guests for it, spanning from sleep specialists to government officials. Leaving no stone unturned.
We see eye to eye with Kaplan when it comes to education, it’s not a straightforward aspect of life. It’s messy, colourful, painful, wonderful, and we saw the importance of showcasing this, and what better way than a podcast. It’s important to remember not everyone feels comfortable in front of the camera, we’ve seen the most confident individuals stutter and sweat as soon as the lenses come out.
Since podcasts are a sound-focused medium, no cameras are needed, creating a more easy-going environment, in addition to being more accessible to those with visual impairments. And… people spill the beans when the cameras aren’t watching… Take a listen here.
In 2023, YouTube surpassed a bunch of social media sites in terms of popularity for influencing consumer behaviour. Everyone and their gran was grabbing a ring light and making their own YouTube show, including Kaplan.
Career Goals was born following the success of the podcast. The host-guest formula worked well in terms of getting across key messaging, in addition to the abundance of themes on the table. Wanting to tap into the Gen Z demographic we produced a new show with a new on-trend host, ensuring all the current trends were on tap. We had another vision. Huge. Neon. Sign. Gen Z love intense lighting, I would know, I am one and my living room looks like an IKEA acid trip.
We have the great fortune of being based in Central Manchester, and the locations available to hire are immense. Soundproof recording studios, dance studios, green screens, infinity rooms, broadcast centers, boutique industry kitchens, a ridiculous amount of domestic spaces, and if you don’t fancy being stuck inside, just take to one of the cities’ many art-rich streets, Chanel did!
After a several recces we went with a great venue a stone’s throw away from our own digs, aptly called ‘The Classroom’. It ticked all the boxes: lots of plugs for kit, it was spacious which allowed us to play with the depth on camera, minimal external noise leaking through, easy to manoeuvre furniture and fittings, plenty of natural light for our makeup artist (and mental wellbeing), and a direct phone line to the location manager for when we wanted more biscuits. Delightful.
But be under no illusion, there’s a lot more to it than hitting record and letting people chat. We spent several weeks building, dismantling and rebuilding episode structures, scripting games, testing run times, trailing formats, deep-diving guests, writing prompts, all whilst weaving in key information about Kaplan. It was important to us that each guest represented an element of service Kaplan has on offer, and Kelsey was able to utilise them to foreground this. Like most things we do at Bearded Fellows, collaboration was at the heart of this project.
This is scratching the surface with our Kaplan projects, but the takeaway is how much is on offer when it comes to showcasing your brand, and how accessible you can be to a vast audience merely by pushing the creative boat out.
"I was provided with a clear schedule, with regular check-in points, and provided with opportunity to flex where necessary. Deliverables arrived on time, every time, and were to an incredibly high standard with very little feedback from us."
"Their work has been the driving force behind us redefining our brand within the marketplace. We now have a stronger social media presence, and our video performance has increased year-over-year."
"As a result of the new content, third-party clients have seen marked increases in ROI"