What Is an Advertising Storyboard?
If it makes you feel any better, the chorus is spreading to conference rooms like yours across the country: “Let's make a video!” You've noted the exclamation mark, but try as you might to match the enthusiasm of your marketing team, you can't help but feel daunted and flooded with questions. What's involved? What will the video look like? What will it say?
These are all excellent questions, and not only because as the business owner, you may be cast as the star of the production. Fortunately, advertising storyboard examples can be used to answer most of your questions.
Before you're sold on the idea of producing an ad storyboard – a series of block-by-block pictures of what a video will look like – you may have to be sold on the notion of producing a video in the first place. It should be an easy sell for your marketing team.
Multiple sources say the chorus of enthusiasm for video is growing among small-business owners, with at least 55 percent of them using the medium for interviews, product demonstrations, testimonials, tutorials and other marketing initiatives.
Customers gravitate to videos, often viewing them before visiting a store and purchasing a product or service. By one estimate, more than 90 percent of consumers watch “explainer” videos.
Videos can increase brand awareness, generate qualified leads and increase sales. A resounding 94 percent of businesses surveyed by Wyzowl said videos are effective.
This impressive return on investment often begins with a storyboard template.
If you've ever read a comic strip, you already have a good idea of what a storyboard looks like.
Each square in the storyboard represents a single frame, showing a scene, who's in it and what's being said, in short form. Someone reading through a storyboard from left to right should be able to envision how the video will look and sound.
Trying to make a short video without first creating an ad storyboard is like writing an essay without an outline. It can be done, of course, but as writers know, even the most basic outline helps creators envision a creative effort. If they can see it, they can improve upon it, too.
In addition to bringing clarity to a video, an ad storyboard can:
- Solidify the sequence of the video.
- Establish framing - answering questions such as: How will each scene look? Who will be in it? What colors, shapes and other visual elements can emphasize the action?
- Plan the action and establish the tempo. A video that progresses too quickly creates confusion, while one that moves too slowly causes viewers to yawn.
- Finesse the focus, meaning how the actors relate to each other and how the viewer might respond to the action and dialogue.
- Direct camera movements, such as close-ups and long shots, to support the action.
- Underscore where the video might be elongated to heighten dramatic tension – or cut.
Given these benefits, it is hard to believe that some people are so swept up in the notion of making a video that they do little more than convene a short brainstorming session before dashing off with a video camera to start recording.
Robbing a creative team of the ability to see how pictures and words will interact before the clock starts ticking costs a company valuable time and energy on a production. It is a huge mistake.
It takes time to create an ad storyboard, but it saves time and money in the long run and gives everyone involved the chance to make revisions before a single word or picture is captured on video.
You may feel motivated to roll up your sleeves and create an ad storyboard yourself once you know how simple it is, especially if you download a storyboard template to get you started. If you can draw stick figures and arrows, then you can at least participate in the process from the sidelines. Many small-business owners do and find that it's an ideal way for everyone on a creative team to grasp their vision and their priorities.
Ad storyboards have a way of growing fast – starting out with only a few frames and then mushrooming into multiple pages. Expect to make several deposits in your company recycling bin as you realize that the early drafts won't do:
- If you're not using a ready-made template, draw a series of rectangles on an 11-by-17-inch piece of paper. (Use an actual comic strip to inspire you.) The blocks should be big enough for you to describe what's going on in each one. Add several blank lines below each block for the dialogue. Taking the extra step of numbering each block may help later, providing a quick way to direct attention to a frame.
- Describe the main points of the story in the blocks. Be sure to confine yourself to one thought per block – one event, one verbal exchange or one development. This is precisely why many ad storyboards tend to grow; creators find that they must slow down the tempo. If you're still uncomfortable about your drawing skills, affix photographs to the blocks instead.
- Write the dialogue below each corresponding block. You may not be able to nail the words you're after, and this is OK. The right words won't elude you for long. For now, jot down the upshot of what you want to convey.
- Use a pencil or pen in a different color to write notes about each scene – either in a block, underneath it or nearby it. You may have strong ideas about camera angles, colors or the volume of music playing in the background. Whatever it is, as you begin to see the video taking shape with pictures and words, other ideas are likely to come to mind. You want to write them down before you lose track of them in all the excitement.
Ad storyboards are usually recursive in nature. This is part of the fun in creating them as new ideas come to the table. Knowing this up-front may help you enjoy the process and encourage feedback as you finesse your creation. Other tips may help, too:
- It bears repeating that it's more important to put your ideas on paper than it is to end up with a work of art. An ad storyboard should be simple enough so that anyone who picks it up can understand it. Confine your highest artistic standards for the video itself.
- Emphasize showing rather than telling, remembering that you're working in a visual medium that prizes pictures as the main attraction.
- Picking one theme and fully developing it is preferable to trying to convey multiple messages in one video. This is another advantage to creating an ad storyboard; it can help you conceptualize a series of videos to market your small business.
If you can embrace the storyboard notion without feeling daunted, your videos will deserve to receive fan mail. You'll have come a long way and mastered an important new skill since you first heard those inspiring words: “Let's make a video!”