On Bullshit

The word “authentic” is so used up and trite that my eyes nearly roll out of my head when I hear or say it. And the opposite of authentic isn’t inauthentic. That seems to carry even less meaning and certainly doesn’t capture the reaction of an audience when they perceive it.

It’s bullshit.

Bullshit isn’t exactly lying and that is why so many advertisers and PR communicators feel they can get away with it. On the axis of Truthiness to Falsity, bullshit falls short of lying. It can feel true because it is concerned with conveying a certain impression rather than intending to deceive.

An easy example of awesome, unrepentant bullshit is Kanye West and we love/hate him for it. His music is simply amazing. But god-like? Even if his assertions are tongue-in-cheek, they clearly are intended to make us feel a certain way about him.

His entire brand, like many entertainment brands, is pure facade. We know almost nothing about the eccentric musician, which is fine because he is selling music that moves our hips and taps our toes. No one is buying “authenticity” from Kanye West.

Here is where the mistake is made in marketing and communications. In trying to connect with an emotion to trigger action, brands often make grandiose claims and associations that are not in line with their lived values or the benefit of their product or service. Unless yours is a Rock Star brand, that’s bullshit and you will pay the consequences for it.

Lying awakens a sense of violation and is a personal affront. When caught in a lie, the internet lights up with indignation and the court of public opinion can be devastating.

Recently Volkswagen was caught in a lie about the environmental impact of their supposedly low-emissions diesel engines, which triggered public outrage, regulatory investigations in multiple countries and a drop in their stock.

Clearly the consequences of outright falsehoods outweigh those of fakery and bluffing.

Unfortunately the consequences of bullshit are poor deterrents for many communicators, who continue to throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Calling this practice “iterative” is bullshit because it implies strategy.

When we perceive bullshit, we collectively tend to shrug it off with annoyance. It’s just more phoney fronting on the web that quickly disappears down our social feeds.

The inclination of an audience to turn away in irritation should be enough to stop the professional production of bullshit. However, the industries of marketing, social media and PR continue with platitudes and superlatives while recycling someone else’s marginally relevant content.

This is why we offer clients a Storytelling Blueprint that aligns the custom content we create with their values and ideal customers. We seek to integrate a content strategy with the greater marketing plan. We associate with the genuine emotions in your brand.

We cut out the bullshit.

Short-form Video | The Retainer Model

Making Video Content Affordable

One in the hand is better than two in the bush, right? That is rightfully the mentality around video production these days. If there isn’t an ongoing relationship then each and every video produced will be priced like it is the last – get paid and get out.

Unfortunately, a piecemeal approach to mar/comms is usually the culprit behind clients asking for quotes like, “How much is this video? How much is that video? Can you give me options?” They part with their budget like the expense wasn’t planned, which is actually a warning bell for the success of a video. When generated outside of a strategy, a video is too often just a shiny object that gets left by the wayside. The marketing team doesn’t know what to do with it and it has little context within the greater brand experience.

But what if we could commit to a long-term strategy, as laid out in a communications or marketing plan? What if we knew what notes we wanted to hit within our content creation over the next six months and had a fixed budget attached?

It changes the conversation!

Trust Your Content Producer

Now we are talking about strategy and storytelling, nurtured over time, brand building or building a call to action. With these conversations comes trust with the brand voice as the content is created. The great hurdle is no longer over budget. The key issue is trust.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say we agreed to 10 short-form videos over 10 months for $10,000. Now it is clear how much time and resources can be thrown into each piece. With a little guidance and a lot of trust, we can square the triangle of “Good, Fast & Cheap” by adding “Short.”

My friends, short-form video is within reach if it is planned and the creator is trusted. Want to hear more? Reach out and let’s continue this conversation.

Video Production Outcomes Over Output

Stand out to your prospects! Video content is king! Turn views into sales!

If you believe that, then you can spin up and publish video content very quickly. There is a ton of tools out there to source, manage, optimize and track your videos. Just sit back and watch the data-qualified leads roll in. So it’s a no-brainer, right?


All these service providers have left out the most critical element to your business video strategy — You.

Before thinking about pulling the trigger on a video production, it is imperative to be clear about the message behind the video. I don’t mean, “What is your call to action?” or “Does this speak to your customer avatar?” Again, that kind of thinking leaves you out of the equation.

Know Your Brand Story

Video is a tool and without the proper guidance so many companies allow the tool to determine its own function. A hammer can both drive and pull up nails but you would never let the hammer decide. With almost no checks on the purpose of a video, it is no wonder there are so many online without an audience.

Too many client assume that the video producers are clever enough to figure out the company’s brand and message. By virtue of creating something visually compelling with a little guidance from the client, the video producers can claim victory because of another assumption – the client has done the work of self-examination and deeply understand their own purpose and values.

Both assumptions often lead to expensive experiments in tactics with no overarching, strategic value. Without addressing these assumptions, video becomes a misadventure for many companies. It also sours the relationship with the video producers because somehow it is their fault for not doing the internal work that the client wasn’t invested in doing themselves.

Have An Intended Outcome

When you truly understand the value of your organization and your brand promise, your videos can become laser focused. I have worked on videos with budgets in the tens of thousands, with the intention that they will be watched only twice.  However, with the right audience, those videos have returned hundreds of thousands on their investment. That is the power of having intention behind a video.

I have also worked on lower budget productions that speak directly to a tribe, community or industry with amazing results; high engagement, comments, feedback and sharing. These videos have achieved their intended outcome of contributing towards and shaping culture.

Think Beyond Production

Lastly, you have to think about how a video strategy dovetails into the rest of your marketing strategy. Failure to do so leads to your visual content languishing in some uninspired sub-menu marked “Video” on your website. This is where videos go to die. If you are secretly admitting there is a video sub-menu on your website right now, you seriously need to reconsider your relationship with video. Poorly branded Youtube channels are also criminally negligent.

There absolutely must be a plan in place to get your content out to the world. That can be a platform on which you already have an audience, email list, landing page or you can straight up buy your way onto your customer’s Facebook feed. Either way, that is going to take up time and resources that need to be accounted for.

Video Production Is Not A Checkbox

Put simply, if you treat this powerful communication tool like a checkbox on your marketing “to-do” list then you are setting a course for failure, disappointment and a sour relationship with video.

Story Funnel

Part testimonial, part call-to-action, we worked with Funnel Story to craft this landing page tool. Through our consultative process we helped the company creator, Amir Nasr, to prioritize the businesses he wanted featured in order to represent the brand as global and applicable to many kinds of entrepreneurs.

We gathered some business leaders in Vancouver, Canada and others in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the on-camera testimonials were concisely shot in one day by different teams. The extra footage was generously donated by Funnel Story clients. This is how we planned in advance to keep production costs lean.

The result is a sales tool that speaks globally and resonates personally for internet entrepreneurs who want to clarify their messaging and scale their online businesses.

Video Profiles for the VSO

Bringing Warmth And Personality With Video

It was an honour to be part of this project, produced by The Notice Group, to capture video profiles for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The goal was to give a close and personal look at some of the orchestra’s notable musicians, hear their thoughts on performing and other interests as well.

Video Thought Leadership

The Business of Creativity with Jordan Eshpeter

Our second informational interview on better practices and perspectives for the creative class is with Jordan Eshpeter, Head of Growth + Engagement at Invoke.

Differentiation and Business Development with video

Video is now a common and effective way for businesses to highlight their expertise and build their reputations. So what does a video look like in the toolkit of a B2B expert?

Building out your visibility as an expert with video needn’t be very expensive because it ultimately depends on the quality of what you are uniquely qualified to educate potential clients about.

Connect and sell emotionally with video

 Connect with customers and drive sales with emotion.

How many of you have seen the viral video of babies laughing?

If you’ve seen it, I’m sure you quickly found yourself laughing as well. Their laughter is infectious! Sure babies are adorable but on a deeper level we are hard-wired to be empathic, to be emotionally connected. Even through a video.

And that’s the point – video triggers emotions like no other medium.

People buy based on emotion and use logic to rationalize their decisions afterwards. They choose a Realtor because he seems trustworthy; a financial planner because she seems secure. Or they choose an Accountant or a Graphic Designer because they are ridiculously good-looking.

Once that emotional connection is made it is natural to get repeat business and referrals.

To what emotion do you appeal in your customers? That is the target of a well-made video.

Video Thought-Piece Reinforces Brand

The Business of Creativity with Reece Terris

Recently we created a mini-series of informational interviews with industry professionals on better work practices and perspectives for the creative class. Artist and builder, Reece Terris was the first to share his thoughts.

Connect with Social Media

Through a highly targeted post on Facebook this video reached a local audience of self-identifying creative individuals to promote the brand of Creative Mornings Vancouver. Over a very short period of time the video was viewed more than 5600 times! This is a qualified success for a monthly event that can only admit 150 people.

With some thought and a very modest promotional budget it is possible to meaningfully engage a very specific audience, provide value and get your message across. How can we help you do the same for your brand with the powerful and effective medium of video?

Generating Leads With Video

Trade Valuable Content For Contact Information

If you do informational presentations on your business, you should be recording those sessions as valuable online content to generate sales leads.

Now, you can lead someone to your video, but how do you turn them into a sales lead? Well, on video platforms like Wistia, you can apply something called an ’email gate’, which prompts people to enter their contact information before or after they have watched a video.

Both have different strategies – a gate at the beginning of your video may discourage viewers and a gate at the end runs the risk of people just watching and leaving. It’s also possible to create a teaser video and then add your gate.

Either way, if you are presenting valuable content you have the opportunity to ask people to pay for it in the form of their contact information. Then you have a real way of capturing information, following up and nurturing the relationship from a lead into a client.

Living Portraits

Thought Leadership In Design

While shooting video content on Vancouver Island for Designed To Speak , I was fortunate to have a few moments with each subject to grab some additional content – an environmental portrait and a living portrait. Photographing people was my first passion in the visual arts – creating a connection through the lens and capturing some aspect of personality.

A natural extension of portraiture is the living portriat, with added dimensions to give viewers an immediate sense of the subject – who they are, how they move, and just enough time for a complete thought. The living portrait is not a replacement for headshots, but rather a powerful addition to profiles. You will notice here that I have chosen Vimeo to embed these living portraits specifically for its design-friendly control panel, which allows me to feature the sujbect without a Youtube play button in the middle of my composition.

These living portriats were created specifically as vehicles for thought leadership and mentorship. What would you want to say in your own living portrait?

Iván Meade

Iván Meade is the principal designer and founder of Meade Design Group and the Iván Meade Fabric Collection. He has received international and critical acclaim for his work in interior, graphic, and industrial design. Meade Design Group has created a niche for itself in branding designers; Iván has worked with interior designers locally as well as in Australia and throughout North America to help them develop high-value brands for themselves.

Richard Hatter

Richard is an award-winning designer, illustrator, and conceptual thinker. He has 13 years of experience in graphic, print, and web design, as well as creative direction, market strategy and artistic management.

Emrys Miller

Emrys oversees all projects, providing strategy, creative direction and technical direction at Rocketday Arts. He brings a background in communications design, fine art, and computer science. Emrys is a Professional Member of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, and participates in the global graphic design community.