SHOT LIST: How to draw-up your own video style guide

The argument for shooting, editing and posting your own content is well and truly won. But how should it look? 

There’s a few things to consider when you are drawing up a video strategy for your organisation. Content would be one. A style guide would be another once you’ve got some confidence.

This would dictate things like the typeface you’d use and maybe where your logo sits.

You are probably used to using brand guidelines in marketing and print. What you do with video needn’t feel as onerous but some basic pointers will make your collective output look much better.

Here are some things to think about. You can use as much or as little as you like with this. Certainly, as an extra task it’s going to add some time onto the end of your workflow but you need to ask yourself if the process adds any or takes away.

Certainly, there’s sometimes where speed is of the essence.In that case maybe it can all go to the wall. It’s up to you. 

The steps here aren’t that hard and can be replicated using a smartphone and an editing app. I’ve used Kinemaster here.  

I’ve editing some editing points in italics showing you the steps I took. 

Video isn’t print

First things first. Breaking news: video isn’t print. The idea of picking up your brand guidelines and dropping them lock stock and barrel into video is a really, really bad one for me. What’s been developed for print works best in print.

The NHS brand, for example, is a thing of wonder with a clear typeface that directs people around the hospital. It immediately reassures people that they’re getting health information. But a sign isn’t video.

For me, the starting point may be your brand guidelines but you’ll need to start with a spirit of flexibility. BBC News on TikTok, for example, has some broad pointers that identify it as BBC but it doesn’t drop in the opening music of a news bulletin, for example.   

A typeface

Video editing tools give a variety of different typefaces. If you’re using something like Kinemaster you’ll get some free. If you upgrade to Pro you’ll get access to plenty more which is where the value of Pro pays dividends.  

If you’ve got a font you use but you’re maybe not clear on what the font is called there’s a great website called Drag and drop a piece of content and it’ll tell you what the font is and a number of close matches. Then look for the matching font that’s available to you in the video editing app.

Making your typeface work

Once you’ve got your typeface you’ll need to think of a size for the title, maybe you’ll need to use the editing tool to create an outline for the title to make it stand out. 

A title

You’ll maybe think of how you’d like titles to appear and depart the screen. Using an editing app it’s very easy to create an in-animation and an out-animation. Fade is a pretty standard one but having one makes your content look that bit better.

Here’s a title created using Kinemaster Pro and uses Plus Jakarta Sans Bold downloaded from the shop. 

Text on screen 

This is the part where you want to tell the story using text on the screen maybe with some supporting footage. 

This uses Plus Jakarta Sans Bold.

A caption 

This is the additional information that maybe shows the name and the job title of the individual in question. It’s sometimes know as a lower third. What would you like your template to look like? You may want this to be part of the family of typefaces you’re using for the title. 

I’ve created two separate lines. For the first one, the name, I’ve created a text layer, enabled background colour, changed the colour to red, changed opacity to 100 per cent. This creates a solid block of colour. If I wanted it to be really opaque as a background I may knock this down to something like 30 per cent.  I’ve used Plus Jakarta Sans Extra Bold. The default text colour is white. I’ve then duplicated this to create a second text box. I’cve switched the typeface to Plus Jakarta Sans Light. I’ve changed the colour of this second textbox to red and I’ve changed the background to white. In other words I’ve flipped it round entirely.  

A sub-title

This is the accessibility-friendly part of the video where you’re adding the what the person on screen or voice is saying.  

There’s two ways of doing this. Yes, you can do this on Kinemaster. Yes, you have to do it letter by letter. No, there’s no shortcut. I’ve changed the typeface here to Plus Jakarta Sans Extra Light. It’s part of the Plus Jakarta family of fonts I’ve downloaded but it’s lighter so more suited to a sub-titling role.  

A logo

You may be watching something like Al Jazeera English and you’ll see a logo in the top left or maybe top right corner of the screen. This is really useful as it reminds the viewer the source of the information. It plays a supporting but helpful role.  

Here I’ve emailed myself the logo and I’ve added it as a media layer. I’ve changed opacity to 75 per cent. Feel free to experiment with your own. My own logo is white text on an orange background. You may feel that white is less obtrusive. Go with what works for you.  

A style guide

All of this builds up a style guide. Mine may look like this…

Title: Plus Jakarta Bold with fade for in and out animations.

Caption: Plus Jakarta Sans Extra Bold for the name and Plus Jakarta Sans Light for the job title.

Sub-title: Plus Jakarta Sans Extra Light 

Logo: Orange logo top left corner at 75 per cent opacity. 

You may want to add to it as you go along using this as a starting point. Maybe your style guide may include something like resolves – how each clips bleeds into each other – or other things. That’s all fine.

Remember that all these things are part of the language of film. It’s fine to play around with them from time to time.

The bottom line is with a bit of teaching being able to do this isn’t hard. The results outweigh the effort you put in. 
For more on video, I deliver ESSENTIAL VIDEO SKILLS REBOOTED on planning, editing, and posting video. You can find out more here. I also deliver ESSENTIAL PORTRAIT VIDEO FOR TIKTOK & REELS. More on that here

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