Have you noticed that the “clean line” look is dominating high-end marketing in the last few years? Of course you have. When it comes to video, everyone from tech brands to musical brands to Instagram personalities have deployed minimalist tactics to achieve some pretty amazing results.
What exactly do I mean by minimalist tactics? We’re talking about videos that cut out all unnecessary elements and get it down to a very basic format, which—when done right—allows you to focus attention on exactly what you want your viewers to see.
Minimalist video works well for brands associated with high value design, or with the senses. Beauty, luxury, products associated with simplicity or a “clean” lifestyle, and products you’d want to touch or eat—these are the products that can really benefit from paring down to the essentials. It’s really all about distilling the experiential elements for the viewer.
A few minimalist video attributes would be a monochrome color scheme or a completely white or completely black theme; very little action or movement; few, if any, people; low music or no music; open space or “white space”; sparse layout, no props.
To illustrate, here are four examples of videos that get minimalism right:
Mac does minimalist video really, really well. This isn’t surprising, because simple and clean design is what Apple is all about. All distractions are completely removed from this video, from the white background to the clean, simple text. The camera focuses on the product and nothing else. The music is calm and unimposing. You get the idea. The result is that the product is showcased incredibly effectively. This is why companies like Apple have made minimalist design such a huge part of their branding.
Whether you love or hate this video (that spawned a thousand memes) from Drake, its simplicity is striking. The majority of the video is Drake dancing by himself in an empty room with ambient color as the only decoration. Other scenes are also highly symmetrical with minimal colors or props. The result is undeniably provocative, with over 530 million views racked up since it was released in October.
This video made a huge splash back in 2009, and has over 450 million views to date. While this is owed in part to the pretty amazing choreography, the video does a perfect job of showcasing that choreography—and Beyonce’s voice—by paring the video itself down to basics. The costumes are simple and black, the camera barely cuts away from the dancers during the video, there are no props—it’s all about the song, the dance, and of course Beyonce. And it totally works.
Tanya Poppett is just one of many fitness gurus changing people’s minds and bodies with minimalist video techniques (combined with some very important exercise, of course). Minimalism and fitness brands or products go together perfectly, especially those aimed at women. Women tend to look for peace and stress relief from their health regimes, and minimalist video helps to communicate that simplicity. As you can see, props are nonexistent, moves are simple, there’s one unchanging camera shot, and because of Instagram’s loop feature, you just get the same mesmerizing moves over and over again. Still watching? Us too.
While minimalist video is definitely a strategy that works for particular kinds of products, it’s also a trend that’s only gained steam in the last few years, as more and more brands have picked up on how well it works. And because it tends to shorten and simplify the video production process, it has the added benefit of cutting down on production costs. Now that’s a benefit almost anyone can get on board with.