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Viral Videos That Build Brands (And How To Make Them)
Viral Videos That Build Brands (And How To Make Them)

A terrific way to build your brand affordably is by developing viral content, specifically shareable videos, supporting your brand. But recommending a company create a viral video is like telling a baseball player to "just" hit a home run. It can be challenging!

This post will review my Hall of Fame viral videos and then analyze the attributes these videos share, making them compelling and shareable.

1. The Blendtec "Will It Blend?" Series

The "Will It Blend?" series is a series of viral videos created by Blendtec, a manufacturer of blenders. The videos feature company founder Tom Dickson attempting to blend various objects, including iPhones, marbles, and golf balls. The videos are designed to showcase the power of Blendtec's blenders and have been highly successful, with the original "Will It Blend?" video garnering over 16 million views on YouTube.


2. Dollar Shave Club: "Our Blades are ***king great."

In March of 2012, Dollar Shave Club released a commercial featuring founder Michael Dubin that quickly went viral. Viewers saw the ad over 12 million times on YouTube and helped to launch the brand into mainstream consciousness.


3. K-mart "Ship My Pants."

Kmart's "Ship My Pants" commercial was a television ad that aired in 2013 and quickly went viral online. The ad featured customers in a Kmart store exclaiming in disbelief at the store's new shipping policy, which allows customers to ship their pants (and other items) to their homes for free. The commercial was widely praised for its clever use of wordplay and helped to increase awareness of Kmart's ability to process orders online. Sadly, this brilliant campaign was too little too late for the brand.


4. Google "Dear Sophie."

In May 2012, Google released a Chrome web browser commercial featuring a father sending emails to his daughter as she grows up. The video garnered over 5 million YouTube views and helped solidify the brand's image among a large segment of parents.


5. Old Spice's "The Man, Your Man Can Smell Like."

Old Spice wanted to get the attention of the primary buyers of body wash products for men, which, research showed, was women! In February 2010, Old Spice released a commercial featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa that quickly went viral. The commercial was viewed over 46 million times on YouTube and helped to improve the brand's image and sales. [i]

6. Nike "Always # Like A Girl."

In June 2014, Nike released a commercial to redefine what it means to do something "like a girl." The video went viral, being viewed over 64 million times on YouTube, and helped to improve the brand's image among young girls and women. The version I shared here appeared as a recent Super Bowl commercial.


7. Dove, "The Evolution of Dad."

In June 2014, Dove released a video supporting its Men+Care Brand. The video describes several stages of fatherhood. We explore the arrival of a first child, becoming a grandfather, and many moments along the way. The videos went viral. They delivered over 6 million views on YouTube, and the collection helped improve the Dove brand's image among consumers. Notably, the video collection is an enduring asset that Dove can reuse. The videos appear every Father's Day to promote the skincare brand. Here's a sample video:

A Viral Video How-To

How do we make a video that can go viral? Keep it universal, and stay close to the heart! 

Here are eight qualities most of these videos share:

1. They Are Well-Produced With Quality Content.

High-quality content is the first element of a viral video. Make the video fun to watch. The video should likewise be relevant to a broad portion of the target audience. A good litmus test for whether your video has what it takes to go viral is the answer to the simple question: are you excited to share this video with friends and family?

2. They Use Emotional Appeals.

Another critical element is the use of emotional appeals. Videos that evoke strong emotions like happiness, sadness, or anger are more likely to be shared. For example, Nike's # Like a Girl campaign simultaneously evokes shame and anger.

3. They Include Unexpected Elements.

Another way to make a video go viral is to use the unexpected. The "surprise" can include humor, shock value, or suspense. The elements should pique viewers' interest and make them want to share the video with others. Each of these videos takes us by surprise, whether it is the surprise of a start-up CEO dropping bleeped-out F-Bombs or the vision of someone using a blender to liquefy baseballs!

4. They Keep It Short.

A video should be short if you want it to go viral. The common wisdom is that viewers are likelier to watch and share videos shorter than three minutes long. Any longer, viewers lose interest and stop watching before the end. 

5. They Use Visual Aids.

Including visual aids in the form of images or graphics can also help to make a video more engaging and more likely to go viral. Visual aids can help break up the monotony of talking heads and keep viewers' attention focused on the video. For example, there is something perversely satisfying about watching a blender grind up a baseball, golf ball, or two-by-four.

6. They Use Influencers For Promotion.

If you know of any influencers in your industry or niche, consider contacting them and asking them to promote your video. Influencers have large followings of engaged users who are likelier to watch and share your video when recommended by someone they trust. If you've noticed Saturday Night Live spokespeople creeping into many commercials, this is why!

7. They Touch on Universal Themes.

Dove's viral video on fatherhood and Nike's #like a Girl campaign have evolved from one-off viral videos to full-on campaigns that invite new videos with new approaches. They become campaigns on the same theme as the original video but rerelease them at times when the content will be most impactful. Dove's fatherhood series appears every Father's Day, while Nike took its #likeagirl campaign to the national stage on Super Bowl Sunday. 

8. They Are Authentic.

While funny, each video is authentic to the brand it represents. The Dollar Shave Club CEO tours his facility while extolling the virtues of his company's blades. The Blendtec founder shows off how well his blender works by grinding up a baseball. Google shows how their easy-to-use software fits in with family life while a father watches his daughter grow up. Even Isiah Mustafa in the Old Spice commercial strikes us as earnest in his tongue-in-cheek discussion of how men should smell. Each video explains the product's unique selling proposition in a way that touches on the brand's essence.


 [i] 21 Successful Marketing Campaign Examples That'll Inspire You.


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