Why every startup needs an effective ‘explainer’ video clip


wonder-graphicsSee the original story in Japanese.

Here in Japan we’re seeing more and more startups taking the time to create a promotional video for their service. Of course, this is a trend the world over, as you can see on video showcase sites such as Startup Videos (US) or 500videos (Korea).

For app developers, videos that effectively communicate the concept behind your application can be invaluable in terms of getting potential users to understand what you’re offering.

We recently had an opportunity to hear from Hidetoshi Kobayashi, the CEO of Tokyo-based video production studio Wonder Graphics. The company is known for having made promotional video clips for many popular Japanese mobile apps, including music collaboration app Nana, or homescreen decoration app CocoPPa.

Why did you start this production studio?

Wonder Graphics Hidetoshi Kobayshi

We founded the company back in 2010 and started providing video production services in 2011. In the early days, we were involved in designing websites and producing music video clips.

How do you differ from other video production studios?

The biggest differentiation is speed. We usually produce a film with a small team, and make efforts to shorten the time of delivery. Our methods can contribute to improved efficiency in the production process, reducing man-hours as well as production costs. For instance, with the promotional film for CocoPPa, we could finish it just two weeks after receiving the order from them.

Most production orders are for videos to be placed on websites, so we can delivery them in digital (rather than physical) form and thus complete it earlier. As a result, we can reduce man-hour costs and spend more effort to produce better outcomes.

As well as our our experiences producing music video clips or TV commercials, we’re making the most of the ease with which we can produce videos for websites.

  • Directed by: Tetsuya Ishida / Director of Photography: Seiji Ito
  • Director of Lighting: K. Hokari

What’s foremost in your mind when producing such clips?

The most significant thing is branding. We really focus on thinking what images will best describe the service or product. We usually spend time planning out of all the production processes, and think how to make people understand better the service.

An effective video clip is one that makes users understand the service as soon as they watch it. It is important to decide on the right actors or storyboards. For users, scenes in the clip have to make you envision how the service will work.

  • Directed by: Tetsuya Ishida / Director of Design: Mai Kobayashi

In the CocoPPa clip, we made it clear that the app is intended for high school girls. We even rented a real house to shoot in.

Filming equipment used be too big to carry inside a real house, but these days, even a DSLR camera is good enough to shoot professional video, and we actually use LEDs for lighting because they generate less heat and are easier to use in a tiny room. So we don’t need a film set but can actually rent a real building to shoot various scenes.

Why should startups make such a promotional video?

For startups, creating such a video clip will not only help your users learn about your brand, but it also helps your team sort out their own thoughts. What people use your service? How do you expect them to use it? Based on these considerations, we will choose actors to complete a scenario.

For startups, the production process gives your team a chance to reflect on the value of your service. In an interview before the video shoot, we usually hear from the client on this.

So creating a video clip confirms the value of their product in a way?

I think so. For startups, what’s important is telling viewers how they can change themselves by using a certain service. By highlighting the changes before and after using the service, viewers can learn the real value that a product provides. This is the moment when they confirm the product’s value.

Wonder Graphics has produced many promotional video clips, not only for introducing services, but also companies. The video below is an introduction for Sansan, the Tokyo-based startup providing business card-based contact management services. You can see how it works by confirming the overall concept of the company.

  • Directed by: Tetsuya Ishida

In addition to serving other startups by producing these video clips, WonderGraphics is itself a startup that recently received funding from investors. Earlier this week, they partnered with Minna-no-Wedding, one of Japan’s leading wedding venue portals, and started providing married couples with videos of their wedding ceremonies.

Many companies (not just video production studios) can learn a lot from what the Wonder Graphics team is doing. By making the most of a small team with efficient video production methods, I think there’s a brilliant future ahead for this startup.

The Wonder Graphics team