High-quality visual content is crucial for brands to stand out on social media. Thoughtfully produced branded content captures and maintains the attention of your target audience, conveying your brand’s message effectively and enhancing your overall perception online.
Professional and polished visuals instill confidence and credibility in your brand as consumers are more likely to trust a brand that presents itself in a visually appealing manner. That’s where a team like The Influence Agency comes in. We are experts at creating custom-branded photos, videos, stop motions, cinemagraphs, and more!
Recently, our creative team of photographers and videographers was given free rein to produce branded content for Barbet—a popular sparkling water brand. Their challenge was to showcase their products in a variety of different ways, creating multiple assets in just one shoot.
Gabby joined The Influence Agency in 2021 as their first Lead Photographer. Her photography style is vibrant and polished with an attention to detail that demonstrates her years of experience. Gabby’s goal is to create meaningful and engaging photos that stop you from scrolling.
Marcel is a seasoned videographer known for his “Run and Gun” approach, where intuition guides him through the whirlwind of shooting multiple videos in a day. His editing style harmoniously blends the raw energy of his footage with a musical cadence.
Natalia carries with her a love for food photography, as well as thinking up ways to introduce motion into photography and experimenting with cinemagraph creations. She loves moody photography, using Photoshop to create composites, and pinning inspo images for shoots.
Before beginning any branded content shoot, it’s important to understand the brand’s identity, values, and target audience through extensive research.
Barbet is a popular Canadian sparkling water brand with beautifully designed packaging. They’re a family-owned business started by two sisters who were looking for more alcohol-free alternatives for social settings. Zero-alcohol options tend to lack the same sparkle as their alcoholic counterparts—an opportunity Barbet saw.
Now, Barbet’s customers can enjoy the same feeling of connection and inclusivity that social drinking brings, without having to “water down life’s moments”.
When developing a plan for a branded content shoot, make sure you define the purpose of the visuals you’re creating. Branded content can be used as organic posts or ad assets across multiple social platforms and channels, such as your website or email marketing campaigns. For example, dynamic creative like stop motion or video is ideal for advertising assets, while still imagery might be better suited to website banners.
Next, it’s time to create a creative concept. This ensures that you’re aligning the visuals with your brand’s key messaging. The Influence Agency’s creative team aligned on creating cohesive visuals, sourcing props and materials for the shoot that complemented Barbet’s brand aesthetic.
It was a fun, experimental process styling this scene.
To highlight the sparkling water flavour, I originally envisioned grapefruits fully covering the background with no paper showing. But when we loosely placed the grapefruits on the table, the light created long shadows and little streaks of light came through the gaps of the fruit. We took a test shot and I ended up loving the added texture. It was a great reminder to always have an open mind, experiment and capture test shots along the way.
Once the fruit had a balanced composition, I sprayed a 50/50 mixture of glycerin and water on the Barbet can. This added little droplets, simulating the condensation on a refreshing beverage. Glycerin helps the droplets stay in place so it doesn’t run off the curve of the can.
It was a two-light setup. One hard light pointed at the product with no modifiers on the bulb. This mimics a bright, sunny scene with sharp shadows. The second light was on the other side of the product and pointed at a white v-flat to help brighten the shadows.
While shooting, I took a top-down approach with a 100mm lens to avoid distortion. To achieve the best composition with the grapefruits, we used an odd number and experimented with placement
The correct exposure was captured on set and the RAW photo looked pretty good right off the bat so minimal retouching was required. I adjusted the usual contrast and colour balance, enhanced some texture in the fruit, and cropped the image to a nice 4:5 social feed aspect ratio. There was a bit of spot cleaning needed for watermarks from the glycerin spray on the paper background, but that didn’t take long to remove.
A still image has to speak for itself. If you don’t have moving elements or trending audio, the photo has to grab your attention and stand out from the crowd. This image we captured of Barbet Love Bite is simple yet direct. You see the grapefruit, associate the flavour to the beverage and the monochrome border is pleasing to the eye.
I wanted to get “inside” the product for this shoot so I chose to base the video around macro shots and ASMR sound effects. With food and beverage, I like to try and trigger as many of the senses as possible since we can’t directly show the viewer a product’s taste.
For shoots smaller than full-on commercials we don’t typically storyboard, but I went into this Barbet shoot knowing I wanted to hit four specific beats; establishing shot, can opening, macro of bubbles, macro of grapefruit.
When shooting macro of liquid you need to light from the opposite side of the liquid (AKA back lighting). This can help accentuate the bubbles under the water!
The difference between lighting for video and photo is that with video you need constant light versus strobes (flashes) for photo. Video lights need to be very powerful since video is most often being shot at 24-60 frames (photos) per second.
Sound effects and music sourcing can sometimes be the longest part of the editing process. For solid ASMR you need to build a soundscape (the audio environment) to wrap your video in. This is called sound design and is usually an entire job on it’s own. But as a videographer you do everything!
The editing for this video was pretty straightforward. Mostly it included speedramps, which is when you smoothly transition between regular speed and slowmotion footage. It also needed to include some dynamic transitions.
One thing I really prefer about this sort of product shoot is that you don’t have to make as many decisions during the editing stage. You shoot four shots and that’s all you have in the edit, versus an event-recap video where you shoot 200 clips and have to decide which ones work the best after the fact.
It is very important to realize that in videography versus photography, “fixing” errors takes a lot longer. If there is a speck of dust on your product, that may be a simple removal in Photoshop for a photo editor. In video, that same speck of dust exists 24-60 frames per second. If there is movement in the footage, you now have to track your footage, stabilize, create a dynamic patch, and all of that time consuming VFX stuff.
The long and the short of it is you have to get the video as perfect as you can in-camera to avoid a long editing process.
Thinking of the flavour of this product (grapefruit), I wanted to animate the grapefruits to help reveal the product, almost like opening a curtain as the introduction on a stage. Most of the time I plan this in my head, unless it’s going to be very complicated.
With stop motion video, you work backwards more often than not. This is often due to the deliberately planning the composition styling of the final frame and considering how the object moves in the frame before it.
Toothpicks are a stylist’s best friend for product layering and sticking fruits together. We also use a lot of sticky tack, tape, and fishing wire.
Most stop motions we shoot for clients are minimum six to 10 frames but sometimes it can go up to over 200! In this case, we needed enough frames to show the grapefruits rolling away seamlessly.
There are a few steps involved with stop motion editing. First, I open Lightroom for colour correction, cropping, spot retouching, etc. on one photo in the sequence. Then, I copy the edits and paste them across all photos we’re using. This is also often known as batch editing. It doesn’t always work perfectly, so sometimes you have to use Photoshop for final touches or intensive adjustments like background changes. Finally, I import all the files to Premiere to create the final video file.
By the time the creative assets are approved by the client and in the hands of our social team, the audio we use will depend on what’s trending the day it’s posted.
You always want to use a tripod, C-Stand, and a surface that remains very still for a seamless final video. It’s important to talk through the motions of each step with the team, and even practice it a few times to make sure product placements line up, etc. Consistent lighting is very important as any exposure or lighting changes can distract from the scene and pull a viewer out of the magic of the stop motion.
When you think of sparkling water, you think of the refreshing pour, showcasing beautiful pastel colours of the water as it sparkles its way to the glass. I thought the perfect way to showcase this was by pouring the drink against a colourful background and into a nice clear glass.
For this type of asset, although it appears as a photo, you need to use continuous video lights (unlike a flashing strobe for still photos). The light needs to be bright enough for a sharp image. It’s also best to set up the scene as clean as possible, since it won’t be as easy to edit out the dust specks and other imperfections, as it would be in a photo.
I press the record button as the drink is being poured. The rest of the process happens in post production. For this I use Premiere. I first copy the video layer and freeze it (making it fully still, like a photo). I then cut out the part that needs to be moving, in this case the glass, which shows the animated layer underneath. The last step is to loop the cinemagraph, making it invisible to the eye when it restarts.
When using hands in cinemagraphs, something to consider is that there will always be slight movement (humans can’t stay perfectly still!). While editing, it’s very important to pay attention to the details and find the moment with the least hand movement while pouring the drink to keep everything around it still while only the liquid is moving.
This medium doesn’t work for everything. If you don’t have a moving element, you just have a boring video or still frame image. You want something exciting to move through the frame in a continuous loop that quickly grabs the viewers attention.
Harnessing the power of visual storytelling empowers your brand to resonate with your audience on a deeper level, leaving a lasting impression and fostering brand loyalty.
However, the journey doesn't end with the creation of compelling visual content. Deployment and strategic promotion are key aspects of maximizing its impact. Utilize a multi-channel approach, leveraging your website assets, social media platforms, email marketing, paid advertising, and more to reach a wider audience and drive traffic to your content. Diversifying your deployment strategy ensures that your visual content reaches your target audience wherever they are in the digital landscape.