YouTube is the second largest search engine, and Facebook’s algorithms increasingly favor video content. If you’re not posting video to these platforms (and others) regularly, you’re likely missing out on traffic and sales. Remember you can entertain while you educate. Here are the dos and don’ts of brand awareness videos.

Creating a brand awareness video is trickier than writing a blog.

An ill-thought-out video can go viral for the wrong reasons or simply be ignored. So how do you steer clear of bad or boring videos? Here are a few do and don’ts to help keep your videos relevant and entertaining, and your view counts high.

 Do: Use Humor, Parody, and Pop Culture References

Since the dawn of advertising, brands have used humor to get their message across. Online, cutting through the noise is even more vital, so effectively using humor is an excellent strategy.

One way to use humor is to parody other brands, pop culture icons, or other popular video formats. Dollar Shave Club used this strategy in 2012 and racked up millions of views by parodying explainer videos.

Then, The Beard Club (formerly Dollar Beard Club) piggybacked on the original with this parody of a parody. Both videos also gently lampoon the exaggerated manliness that is commonly used to advertise men’s products like razors or deodorant while simultaneously conveying the benefits of their product through a knowing wink.

Mattress protectors are a pretty dull topic, but this video from Purple featuring a family of Bigfoots is an excellent example of how humor can turn even the driest information into something entertaining. The script is perfectly paced, balancing out hilarious one-liners with important facts about the product.

Don’t: Rely Too Heavily on Gimmicks

Video from ShipServ is a prime example of relying on a weak concept (sorry, ShipServ). It uses stop motion animation with Lego figures to explain how their online marketplace works. It’s a cute gimmick, but after a few seconds, it gets old.

While a clever gimmick can be enough on its own to get the audience’s attention, beyond the Lego figures, ShipServ made minimal effort to draw their viewers in beyond using animation.

The message they are trying to convey, that ShipServ is a cheap and effective way for maritime businesses to advertise, gets lost.

Do: Use Subcultural Knowledge to Let Your Audience Know You “Get Them”

Rockwell Automation’s Retro Encabulator video from 1997 takes an engineering in-joke about technical jargon and transforms it into a masterful parody of corporate videos. By knowing their audience, Rockwell was able to create a cult hit that is still remembered fondly (along with their brand name) 20 years later.

Don’t: Make Things Too Complicated

Remember, you’re trying to communicate something memorable to your audience. While it’s desirable to throw in unexpected elements, always ensure that the message you are trying to communicate comes through clearly. Although this Stella Artois commercial features Matt Damon and an important issue, the message gets lost due to some clunky math at the end.

Do: Use Popular Formats That People Understand, Like Documentary

Video content doesn’t always have to be funny or over the top. Sometimes, presenting informative content via a format that people understand can also work, as in this video from Income Store.

Don’t: Be Amateurish

 Producing video content doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re game, you can even try your hand at producing it in-house. An excellent way to ensure you don’t create something embarrassing is to run your concepts, scripts, or rough cuts by your customers first and see how they react. That’s one way to avoid producing shockingly amateurish and un-self-aware videos like this one from Fred and Sharon’s Movies, which went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Do: Use Controversy and “Out of the Box Concepts” to Get Attention

Underwear brands have always thrived on controversy, but Culprit Underwear takes things to the next level with sex, exploitation, and over-the-top aesthetics in an outrageous video that is sure to shock and offend while it educates.

Brands are often afraid to take risks with their ads, but controversy can help you cut through the noise and reach your intended audience in a crowded marketplace, especially if your competitors are playing it safe.

It also helped in this case that the creative agency wanting to take the risks was sister company Culprit Creative.

Don’t: Be Boring

Consumers have so many options for consuming content on the web that the biggest crime of all is simply being boring. If you had a choice between clicking on a safe, sanitized message from a brand, or something that might make you laugh, cry, or even outrage you, which one would you choose?

It probably wouldn’t be this mediocre video from Ernst & Young, that’s for sure:

Next time you are creating a brand video, put a little thought into it before you start. Are you playing it too safe? Is your concept too bland or amateurish?

What’s the best way to communicate your message to the audience? It may mean the difference between a lifetime of brand recognition and merely blending in with the crowd.

Stephan Spencer

Stephan is an internationally recognized SEO Expert, author, blogger professional speaker, consultant, and founder of Netconcepts.