In an age of short attention spans, what’s missing from most tech brand websites?
Updated: Sep 18
You’re a technology brand. Your website is the primary destination for your marketing comms activity. Your aim is to attract potentially time-poor audiences. Then quickly educate them about the pains you solve, through the products you sell. Ultimately you aim to qualify prospects and set up a trial or sales call. That seems to be the modus operandi of all of the sixty or so B2B tech brands I’ve experienced first-hand over the past six years. It seems totally logical. Until you realise the whole category is doing the same. Historically, coming from a B2C advertising background though, the first thing I would expect to be greeted by on a brand’s website would be an engaging brand film. A sensory experience that emotionally captures the story of the brand; why you exist, and what you can do for your prospective audience. Sound and vision in harmony, making a memorable first impression, in under two minutes. This film could be deployed in social channels and paid media as well as on the homepage. So, what takes its place in tech marketing, and why isn’t the all-important brand film there?
Firstly let’s look at what greets tech-buying audiences today: Positioning statement + graphic design
Beneath the navigation bar, almost all technology brands lead with a succinct positioning statement. Statements not stories. A lot of focus within marketing teams goes on crafting these words. It’s rare for these statements to be accompanied by meaningful distinctive visuals, as the technology-focused statements themselves tend to be abstract in nature. Alongside the words, there might be graphic shapes from the brand visual language, in a vain attempt to appear distinctive. Positioning statement + photography
Some of the technology brands remember that people are part of this buying process. Then raid the stock libraries for those carefully judged ‘not posed, but obviously staged’ shots. Other brands avoid today’s diversity minefield by representing people in 2D vector illustration format. Exaggerated limbs and even blue skin colouring abound to presumably appeal to everyone and offend no one. Positioning statement + product explainer animation
About a quarter of the brands lead with a product or platform explainer animation. These are usually voiceover or titles driven, with 2d vector animation telling a literal product story through motion graphics. Animation can be an engaging medium if the storytelling is bespoke, unexpected and crafted. Not literal, prosaic, and product-centric. Unfortunately, the majority of the tech brand explainer videos use a ubiquitous style, are overlong, literal in messaging and lack any real magic, distinctiveness or memorability. They serve a purpose in explaining the products, but do little to build the kudos or reputation of the brand. Why should I believe that your tech product is cutting edge when your animation feels decidedly second rate? Every touchpoint builds brand perception. If it feels cheap it won’t engender confidence.
Positioning statement + stock footage brand film
Where brand films do exist, the majority are dry voiceover monologues set against generic stock library film footage of business situations, architecture, overhead drone shots and people with tech devices. There's hardly any use of fluent branding devices in B2B technology, to create something distinctive, memorable and campaign-worthy. In the better montage examples, branding graphics or film grading tries to link and own the stock footage a little, by creating a narrative flow through disjointed situations. LogicLogicMagic created the stock-footage montage film below for Okta, based around the idea of 'The World's Most Valuable Commodity'. Duotone grading unifies the vignettes, while a voiceover drives the narrative.
The first half acts as a brand film, while the second half focuses on driving downloads of an Okta report. Some would call this approach 'brand response'. In the absence of investment in pure brand activity, this can often be a prudent way to go. Research proves that singular narratives following the same protagonists engage more emotionally than disjointed vignette structures. LogicLogicMagic created a series of top-of-funnel brand films for Lenovo, to bring to life the idea that ThinkPads are 'the business'. In a lateral twist on the ubiquitous customer testimonial, famous fictitious characters explain how they run businesses using Lenovo technology. Below Santa Claus explains how the technology helps him run his global gifting enterprise in the brutal conditions at the North Pole, with technology that is both dependable and intuitive to use.
The bespoke brand film
These are the 1%, where a brand has invested in a bespoke film that’s worthy of their company valuation, and the technology they are trying to promote. These films say "we take Marketing seriously and invest in creating distinctive assets". Usually, these films will have had a bespoke shoot and involve external production companies and directors.
This approach opens up creative options of dialogue-based scripts, rather than less engaging voiceover, and more elaborate and imaginative scenarios including CGI animation. All this obviously comes at a price, but that should be viewed as an investment. Film production has dropped in cost over the past decade, so these types of films are within reach of many tech brands now. Quality brand films, like the ones below, should have a long shelf life and live in the memory of audiences until they are in market to actually consider, evaluate and purchase the products or solutions.
This film above from cybersecurity brand Crowdstrike reimagines the Trojan horse story, with Crowdstrike saving the day. It's one of the better cybersecurity brand films, but doesn't utilise Crowdstrike's distinctive branding assets – their mechanical falcon and illustrated threat adversaries. The danger here is that the audience remember the famous Trojan horse and not the less famous Crowdstrike brand. The same investment spent on a memorable story with the falcon battling the various threat adversaries may have driven better brand awareness. Trying to hitch your trailer to existing fame can be a double-edged sword. A risk which Workday took head-on in their 'Rockstar' campaign. You have to admire the ambition of an HR tech brand who goes toe-to-toe with Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Billy Idol & Joan Jett, and seeks to be remembered above them. In this film the real rockstars play brand adversaries against the Finance and HR 'rock stars' who use Workday. It's a brave move to have the rock celebrities mock the audience sector that Workday are going after, but by championing Finance and HR as 'rockstars', Workday help elevate their audience, gaining brand kudos in the process and picking up a Cannes Gold Lion for Ogilvy too.
The ultimate brand films are both distinctive and build specific memory associations for that brand. They tell emotive stories using fluent brand devices like characters, sonic mnemonics or brand worlds, to allow the brand narratives to develop and evolve over time. The best brand films unsurprisingly come from advertising agencies where visual storytelling craft is a cut above the formula of product messaging married with motion graphics which so many tech brands employ. At LogicLogicMagic if we didn't believe in the power and effectiveness of brand films, then we wouldn't have invested in creating our own "The Musings of Mogic".
So, to the second part of our original question – why don't tech brands invest in brand films? Anecdotally there's a perception that 'product marketing' is the necessity and 'brand marketing' the luxury. Brand films are seen as a 'B2C' approach, which is superfluous to B2B buying committees. The evidence from marketing effectiveness papers can quickly disprove this. Equally film production is perceived as expensive, yet investing substantially in transitory tech events is seen as good value. Finally when virtually the whole category is playing by the same rules it takes a challenger mentality, or an enlightened CMO, to realise the power of a great film to lodge your brand into the consciousness of future buyers. With enough imagination, effective brand films don't have to be expensive. But they do take craft and an understanding of the literal and lateral elements that can combine to create the memorable. If you feel that your tech brand is missing this vital element of your marketing armoury, then I'd be happy to discuss how practically to rectify this situation. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org If you're interested in learning more about the LogicLogicMagic approach and how we can help your organisation establish stronger connections with your target audience, you can download our quick guide: "11 ways to making technology marketing memorable", or the more comprehensive: "Mogic's guide to making marketing more memorable"