Client: Healthy Household Ltd. (小康之家)
Healthy Household (小康之家) is an American-owned and -operated retail company in China. They serve to provide the Chinese consumer market with quality overseas goods. This film explains the company's history, the quality of their retail products, and the customer service they provide.
If you haven't heard, the e-commerce market in China is fiercely competitive. Healthy Household (HH) had been facing challenges in keeping up. Their brand film's goal was to set themselves apart through emphasizing their integrity and family-oriented core values as a business. In a country where online fake goods and poor customer service run rampant, integrity and good quality go a long way.
What's My Problem?
We took a good bit of time with owner of the company to identify some of his biggest concerns as a company. Understanding the problems his business is facing is key to knowing what the purpose of the brand film is.
That's something very important to ask yourself if you're thinking that a brand film is the next step for your business: "What problem am I trying to solve for my business with this video?" The answer to that question will inform the content of your whole video.
You can end up wasting a lot of time and money focusing on irrelevant things your business does if you don't focus on that question's answer. (For a great read on that in more detail, check out this article by the Harvard Business Review.)
In HH's case, it was pretty simple: their competition had exploded! HH actually started in the Chinese retail market long ago, even before the Internet and e-commerce existed. In 1993 they introduced China's very first mail-order catalogue. Suddenly in 2015 they found themselves competing with an entire Internet of websites that sold similar products to theirs, while their own new online sales platform was struggling to keep up.
The e-commerce market in China is definitely a case of quantity over quality. HH's owner is so confident in the products they are importing to retail that he is willing to stake his own credibility on them. Whether it's wine, Tupperware, or shampoo, HH only sells high-quality goods.
So that's the angle of his entire brand film: "We are a trustworthy company with a long history of integrity that sells only high-quality products that we believe in."
Telling the Story
The theme of this brand film is integrity and trustworthiness. This means we can already rule out having a paid voice-over actor tell the viewer just how great and wonderful this brand is.
We don't want to go near anything that feels fake or over-hyped. It's crucial that the real owner tell the story, accompanied by real staff of the company.
In our case a huge factor is that the American owner, Paul, has excellent Chinese. So we decide that he should definitely lead the film as key spokesperson--all in Mandarin.
At this point my job as a producer/director is to help Paul tell his story as naturally as possible. He preferred to write his own script in his own words, but the last thing we wanted was for him to recite memorized lines into a camera.
My trick in these cases is to take the script and work backwards. I look over all the content, and then say, "What questions are being answered here?" Then I write down those questions as headings to each paragraph.
Now I have material for a full interview. I tell Paul not to look at his script, and not to look into the camera lens (since we're going for authentic and not rehearsed). I then proceed to ask him, in order, all the questions that I wrote down from his script.