What it takes to become a video content hero

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Hero content acts as a beacon to draw audiences in.

Heroes aren’t born. They’re made.

Never was a truer phrase spoken than when it comes to ‘Hero’ video content – content that flies higher than the brand to create massive awareness beyond its usual marketplace.

Hero video content is often born out of brilliance but made with authenticity, emotion, alignment and effort. In YouTube’s ‘Hero, Hub, Help’ content framework pyramid, ‘Hero’ is at the top, the beacon that draws audiences in, while the ‘Hub’ and ‘Help’ content works to convert them into repeat visitors.

And it’s tricky to get the Hero pinnacle right. F Scott Fitzgerald really nailed it for many marketers when he said, “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy”. Which is a shame when we consider audiences are clamouring for more content and more heroes than ever before. In a 2018 HubSpot survey, 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support.

So, what’s hard about making a Hero?

Hero content calls for bravery and boldness

Hero content isn’t a shy, retiring character. It needs to be a show off and stand out. It needs to be courageous to get attention, then keep it. That sort of public boldness can be nerve-wracking for brands – especially as Hero content, by its very nature, tends to command the biggest budgets (although it really doesn’t have to – more on which later…).

The 2017 Fearless Girl statue erected in Wall Street by financial services company SSgA is a great example of boldness done well. The 130cm bronze statue, essentially advertising a gender-diverse fund, was originally given a one week permit which was extended to 21 months following mass global awareness and applause around the values that the statue represented.

Heroes can’t just be in it for themselves

Our Hero can’t be the only one getting all the glory. Yes, it must stand out and be bold, but its success also lies in how well it pulls audiences into other areas of the website to engage with the other, hard-working Hub and Help brand content.

Hero content needs to be hung on softer brand values

Hub and Help content are transactional and directive. Hero content needs to be pinned to the more nebulous, softer side of a brand’s personality – its thoughts, perceptions, emotions, philosophies. That’s hard to pin down in an authentic, creative way which really resonates with as many consumers as possible.

B2B ecommerce portal Alibaba.com achieved this brilliantly with its Pop Up Start Up video series following 12 start-up entrepreneurs competing against each other for Alibaba.com funding. The series narrative successfully traded on the brand’s teamwork, passion, customer-first values to create a powerful emotional connection with viewers in 108 countries, ultimately raising brand awareness by 31%.

Hero content needs a soaring narrative that also satisfies commercial objectives

Although Hero content is designed to pull in as many viewers as possible with a bold, transcendent story, that story still needs to be aligned to more earthly, commercial objectives, satisfying the core brand audiences at the same time as attracting new ones.

Nike’s 2018 'Nothing Beats a Lndr' piece was designed to take the brand away from its very American, athletic heartland, to underline its relevance to a more urban, street energy. The three-minute video of London teens playing every conceivable sport is an uplifting, pulsating ode to joy which has been rightly applauded by every audience.

Red Bull is consistently a brand which births, then makes great Hero content for all the reasons outlined above. That’s why we’ve invited their head of programming and audience development, Tom Reding, to delve into their best practice approach at our next Hero, Hub and Help Content event. We’ll also be talking through a toolkit of how to create great Hero content for brands and budgets of all sizes. Because, ultimately, the real value in a Hero is how it’s used, not how much it’s cost.

Hub will be holding the second in its series of three breakfast briefing events on how to use video to improve businesses communications strategy on Tuesday 26 February, 830-10am, Charlotte Street Hotel, London W1T 1RJ . Attendees will also have the opportunity to have a complementary Insight Report after the session, exploring how their video engagement data compares to the rest of their marketplace, using Hub’s proprietorial strategy software. Sign up to attend here.

You can register here to watch the video from the first event discussing ‘Help and How to Content’.

David Hunstone is chief executive and director of content for insight-led video strategy and production agency Hub

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