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From the “Big Idea” to the “Direct Idea”

Short-form content: our buzzphrase of 2018. We can’t stop talking about it, but perhaps it’s because the proof is in the pudding: when YouTube cut 30-second unskippable ads down to 6-second bumper ads this year, it was inevitable that short-form would soon take over all of the social feeds. 

Brands are hesitant to jump on the short-form ad train, however. One of the major roadblocks is the old agency model. Many brands have unbreakable bonds with their agencies, most of which are still running with outdated production processes. This makes it difficult for brands to adopt new styles of content, but unfortunately the internet stops for no one (and neither do millennials, who have apparently killed TV with their mobile consumption habits and short attention spans). 

Marketers clearly have their work laid out for 2019: master short-form content. In order to do this, however, marketers need to first master the art of short-form storytelling, specifically crafting the “big idea” into the “direct idea”. 

The big idea.

Whether going in-house, agency or freelance for content creation, each piece of content starts with the big idea. The big idea is the key message, the “whats the point” of a video; it remains consistent whether the content is 6 seconds or 30 seconds.

So, in a way, short-form content isn’t really short. It’s a much longer message with specific goals in mind that have to be condensed into just a few seconds, a few words of copy.

Short-form has no does not equate to shortcuts, but instead presents a unique challenge to the genre that are turning marketers into masters of the 6 second ads: condensing the big idea into a direct idea, leading to more efficient engagement without compromising the messaging. We tend to talk about everything all the time, but people pay more attention when it’s direct.

Big Idea → Direct Idea: an example #irl

We were so busy making content for our clients that we realized we were overdue for some updated content of our own. Our goal was to make short-form content (under 30 seconds) to promote organically (and paid) across our social networks for purposes of brand awareness and potential sales. Short, sweet and to the point.

The big idea? Sliiiightly more complicated than our goal. We had a few points we wanted to convey:

  • Video is on the rise but production is slow and expensive, whereas our process is lean and more social-first.
  • With a global, diverse, creative network of editors we are the champions of stories untold.

After sending along a first version of our 16:9 script (along with a suggested shot list) to our creative, we received an amazing first draft:

The unfortunate thing is, it’s unusable. It’s a minute long. There is no way we can release a minute long ad when we preach the value of short-form for these purposes.

We didn’t even realize until we saw a first version that we were trying to communicate too many ideas, thus missing the mark on accomplishing our goal. We were communicating our big idea but we were not communicating a direct idea.

Getting to the direct idea.

Instead of addressing production and our network, we decided to direct our focus to our network alone to represent the big idea.

How we did it.

After altering the script and adjusting visuals accordingly, we were able to nail down our direct idea more, which ended up reducing length, leading to more efficient engagement and accomplishing our goal with this video.

Check out the final version below:

coming to a social feed near you

To make our content more social-first we repurposed the above wide (16:9) into a 6 second vertical (9:16) version so it can be more easily shareable across multiple platforms. Here it is below:

The #rightworthy roundup.

Adopt short-form content ASAP but make sure your content is purpose-driven and tied to a more direct idea while still staying true to the bigger picture.


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