Episode 12: Good Company Culture
It’s a brand new month, which means, a brand new topic on Press Play. This month, Ben and Justin will be discussing what makes a good Company Culture video. On this episode they take a look at two good examples of a good Company Culture video.
The key elements that are discussed are:
Ben’s Example: “Working At Twilio” – Twilio
Justin’s Example: “Basecamp Tries Some Coffee” – Basecamp
At Storyboard Media, we specialize in video strategies for growth-stage companies. If you want to find out whether creating company culture videos is the right move for your company, hit us up. We’ll design and implement a video strategy tailored to your goals.
00:05 Ben: Well hi-de-ho there neighbor. Welcome to Press Play, where we take a look at the best and then the worst video marketing content out there. I’m Ben. That there is Justin. Today we’re gonna take a look at company culture videos. Now, in defining a company culture video, we actually had kind of an interesting discussion yesterday.
00:21 Justin: We got into it. That’s for sure.
00:22 Ben: We did. I tend to come at it from where, I think most people probably come at it, from kind of a default standpoint of company culture video being used for HR recruiting type purposes. You were having none of that.
00:37 Justin: I was into it, that it’s certainly an option, but I feel like there’s also a marketing element. In sales, why would I wanna work with this company if their features and everything are somewhat similar? Why would I want to work with this company over that company? And culture, I think, is about that right fit.
01:00 Ben: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so that’s why we decided to define a company culture video as something that’s for someone that you might work with to determine whether it’s a good fit there. So whether that’s a client you might work with, or an employee you might bring on, this is who we are as a company. This is what we stand for. That’s a company culture video.
01:17 Justin: So a culture can be comprised of a lot of things. It’s the arts, what you eat, the way you tell jokes, the music you play, all those sorts of things. So thought defining culture might help here and then we can then further define corporate culture. Culture is the customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group. So when you apply that to a company, what of those things are happening inside that company? And what’s the point of a culture video?
01:56 Ben: Part of that definition is within a social group too. And any workplace is a social group, right?
02:00 Justin: Yeah. Yeah. For sure.
02:01 Ben: I think there are a lot of social factors that go into a corporate culture, also. It’s what we’re about, but it’s really who are the people that make up this company. So let’s try to reel this in a little bit and get to some of the key elements of a company culture video. What would you say the four key elements are?
02:16 Justin: First one is honesty. This is kinda the who we are, why we exist, what’s our mission, what’s our purpose? That kinda thing. You wanna make sure that that’s a thread throughout this video.
02:31 Ben: It’s gotta come from a place of legitimacy. It can’t just be stuff we made up.
02:35 Justin: Yeah. It’s gotta be authentic. We’ve been in a position where we had to create the video first, before there was a culture. And it didn’t turn out well.
02:47 Ben: Nope.
02:48 Justin: You may find it somewhere on our work page.
02:51 Ben: Yeah. Kudos to whoever can find it and put it in the comments.
02:55 Ben: So have the culture, then have the video.
02:58 Justin: Yes. It only makes sense to do it that way. Otherwise it’s not authentic. Also, let’s be real. Let’s show and don’t tell. Don’t read from a script. Don’t put 10 marketing people in a office and say, “Alright. Write the script to our marketing… Or to our culture video.” It doesn’t work that way.
03:18 Ben: So one of the things that you came across also, in prepping for this is, I think you started to Google search company culture video or best company culture video, and one of the things that automatically filled in was company culture script.
03:31 Justin: Yes. Yeah, if people are searching for that, that, that’s a problem, ’cause there’s no script to your company culture. It’s whatever, organically, you are.
03:41 Ben: Okay. And fourth?
03:44 Justin: Fourth is, being genuine. Don’t force it. Let it come out… Like I was just saying, let it come out organically.
03:53 Ben: Okay. So four key elements that essentially all mean the same thing.
03:56 Justin: Exactly.
03:57 Ben: Fantastic. So let’s take a look at our first example. I have brought working at Twilio, from Twilio.
04:06 Justin: What do they do?
04:06 Ben: Well, I don’t know. But let’s find out.
04:09 Ben: We’ll press play.
06:31 Ben: Right. So I feel… Actually even until the, “Call to action” at the very end, it didn’t even really feel like a, “Come work here” video. It felt like, “This is what we’re about. We’re about giving people opportunities to create what they wanna create.” I love that, that fits so well too with an API also. Like what he said about not being a finished solution. There’s just something that’s kind of always having opportunities for development and whatever. And they just created an environment for developers to go in and just kind of do what they wanna do.
07:05 Justin: Yeah. I really got that feeling based… It looked like a Thursday thing where they’re all in the room, and they show off what they’ve built, and see if it worked, and they support each other, and there are awards.
07:17 Ben: So I don’t know, it just had a really good kind of legitimate feeling. It was also a nice mix of kind of starting with the founder and CEO, but also then getting to the people who actually work there talking about it. So let’s take a look at the key elements. So honesty, who, why, mission, purpose, absolutely hit on that. Again, the things we were just talking about, “We’re creating a space for developers to create things. And constantly encourage them to make what they… Give them the tools, and encourage them to make the things that they wanna make.” I totally got that through this. It felt like a very comfortable place to go and thrive, if I’m a developer. But also, if I want them to develop something for me, it feels like a place where people are gonna be free to be creative and find the solution that I’m looking for.
08:04 Justin: Yeah. To your point earlier, it wasn’t a recruiting video. It was a culture video that, until the “Call to action” was undefined as a marketing piece, or a sales piece, or a recruiting HR piece.
08:22 Ben: Yeah.
08:23 Justin: And that’s what I think is the essence of a culture video is. You should be able to use this in a number of ways.
08:32 Ben: Point two. Authenticity. They could be really, really good liars. I can’t prove authenticity and honesty. But I feel… I get a genuine feeling that that really is what that place is all about. It came of the people were speaking naturally, and it didn’t seem as you’ll see in some of our bad examples, it didn’t seem overly forced or overly scripted. It just felt like kind of honest, genuine, real, authentic talk from these people.
09:03 Justin: Yeah. It felt like they captured moments of a conversation that meant something, and they put them in the video.
09:09 Ben: Yeah. Real, showing not telling. I think they did a really good job of… With their B-roll actually…
09:16 Justin: Yes. That’s what I was gonna say.
09:18 Ben: Yeah. Okay. Then, what were you gonna say about that?
09:20 Justin: Just that they didn’t have to say that they work hard and that they enjoy their work. They showed it. It was very clear that those people are engaged in their work.
09:34 Ben: And I thought they did a really good job of showing different sizes of groups too. You saw people working in a group of two or three on something. You saw people working at larger tables with larger groups. You saw people working individually. You saw that whole Wednesday dinner or Thursday thing working together. It just gives a sense of options and opportunity, and just kind of the ability to work however you wanna work.
09:57 Justin: They’re not saying, “We are flexible with introverts and extroverts who wanna work in big groups or small groups.” It just shows that. You can’t write a script for those things, it has to happen organically. Which brings us to, genuine.
10:13 Ben: Definitely not forced. It just felt… It felt real, it felt legitimate, it felt casual, it felt… It felt like they were really just saying, “Look, this is who we are. This is how we go about what we do. Right or wrong. Right fit or wrong fit. If you’re into this, great. Come learn more. Work with us, hire us. Whatever it is. But, if you don’t like what’s here, that’s fine, ’cause we’ve got plenty opportunity and we’re gonna find the right people to work with.” So I think that’s a four out of four on that one. What do you have for us there?
10:48 Justin: This is a company, at least before they sold to whoever owns them now. I think they sold… But 37signals, do you remember them?
10:57 Ben: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Rework.
10:57 Justin: They started Basecamp. Rework is the book that, I think you recommended me.
11:02 Ben: That book is actually my small business bible. I love that book.
11:04 Justin: Yeah. So, Basecamp. And I think this is a more recent video, but a great company still. I think there’s some interesting things about this. This is not a typical culture video. But it’s called, “Basecamp, try some coffee.”
11:21 Ben: Alright. I’m looking forward to seeing it. So press play.
11:22 Justin: Alright. Let’s have a look.
15:19 Ben: Interesting.
15:20 Justin: Yeah. A completely different way to show your culture. I have to start by saying, it’s about a minute and a half too long.
15:31 Ben: It is. It is.
15:33 Justin: It is too long, but I felt like they did a really good job of not doing the same old shit.
15:45 Ben: True.
15:46 Justin: But they let you in to their world. See, Basecamp is like a number of companies these days where they all telecommute or they work from home. They don’t go to an office. So, the culture there is different. But I wonder if… What was interesting in this video is they found a base for connection between all those workers and brought them together and said, “Let’s try some coffee.” Like, “Okay, what do you guys like? What do you like? What do you like? What do you like? Oh, okay, everybody likes coffee. Cool. Let’s come here, let’s try some coffee, let’s have some fun with it.” And I think what that does is, just about every other company has people… Most of the people in those companies love coffee, so all of a sudden you’re building that connection of like, “Okay. Interesting, yeah. McCafe and $50 coffee.
16:43 Ben: Sure.
16:45 Justin: And I just think it was an interesting play on how to introduce humans through an experience that isn’t them saying, “Yeah, we’re really funny,” and whatever, I think that kinda gets to the show it, don’t tell. I don’t know. Let’s go through the list, or did you have some comments?
17:04 Ben: We can address that through the list, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know that I really got it. I wanna get it. ‘Cause I think it was clever and if I were to try to put what I think they were going for on there, and I think you said it, when you said interesting. Everybody kind of had their own opinion, and so it’s not the line that we love. There’s no right or wrong, there’s just interesting, less interesting, so it’s not about absolutes. It’s not about, “Oh, we’re trying to be this,” or, “We’re trying to be that,” it’s just that we are the different things that make us up maybe.
17:43 Justin: Yeah.
17:45 Ben: But I was really hoping for one and a half minute less of it, and then a reveal at the end for what they were going for.
17:53 Justin: Yeah.
17:54 Ben: And maybe that was the point of it, was to let you fill in the blank a little bit. But it did leave me we wanting more, but not necessarily in a good way.
18:03 Justin: Okay.
18:04 Ben: But still really interesting approach. So yeah, maybe I’ll find more enlightenment as we go through.
18:11 Justin: Yeah. ‘Cause I think I’ve had more time to think about it.
18:14 Ben: Yeah. No. It’s my first time seeing it, so I have not considered it at all.
18:18 Justin: Let me ask you this. First time seeing it, would you click to learn more?
18:24 Ben: Yes I’d have to. Because I’d want to try to figure out what else was going on.
18:28 Justin: As a client, vendor or potential employee?
18:31 Ben: Absolutely. So good for them. On that one.
18:34 Justin: Sure. They created some sort of mystique maybe.
18:36 Ben: Yeah. So let’s start with point number one, honesty.
18:40 Justin: Okay.
18:40 Ben: What do you think?
18:41 Justin: I don’t think it hits a mission exactly. There’s no purpose behind their work, except that I can kind of… The first, maybe minute, is the set up, right? Or maybe 45 seconds or something. And it drops in coffee and then they go through this artisan pour over process of making coffee, I think that’s analog to what they are as a company in some ways. I think they’re showing the way that they work off in a different way.
19:19 Ben: Okay.
19:21 Justin: As more of an artisan approach.
19:23 Ben: Okay. So we’ll give that a check mark.
19:27 Justin: Sure.
19:29 Ben: Yeah, authenticity.
19:30 Justin: I don’t honestly… So on honesty, I don’t know.
19:33 Ben: Okay. That’s fair.
19:34 Justin: I don’t know.
19:34 Ben: That’s fair. Good thing we introduced the question mark in our last episode. Alright. Point number two, authenticity. Having the culture first and then showing it. I’m gonna say yes, but I’ll let you elaborate.
19:46 Justin: I’ll say yes.
19:47 Ben: Alright.
19:48 Ben: Point number three.
19:49 Justin: No. I think there’s a culture there. These people have to interact on a number of different levels. It’s just their interaction has been differentiated, modulated in a new way. Rather than being face to face, they do video conferencing and what not. And you still develop a culture, but I think in some ways that culture you retain a little bit more of yourself, in the identity of self and that may be portrayed through some of the opinions that they give throughout the coffee experience.
20:23 Ben: Okay. Yeah. I think maybe I have a new take on it. Coffee is something that may be brings them all together. They’re all in different places. They all have slightly different jobs. They’re all part of a team. Coffee may be the one thing that brings them together, but they do have different opinions on it. And so as a collective there’s something that they can all latch on to, in that coffee piece, but they don’t all necessarily agree that this one is better or this one is better or whatever. So I’m gonna go with that as my interpretation of the video for now. It’ll probably change a few more times. [chuckle] So how about real, showing instead of telling?
21:00 Justin: You have to read between the lines in this video. So they’re not saying, “Yeah. It’s great ’cause we can take a break and go to a ping pong table and then they just show a B-roll of ping pong tables and everyone hits the close button on the tab,” ’cause fuck that.
21:17 Ben: No ping pong tables. We know that.
21:18 Justin: Seriously. No. But this is just a different way of doing it and I think when you can enter… If you just walk into a conversation of strangers, I think you can find out a lot more about who they are than if they told you who they are.
21:38 Ben: Okay.
21:40 Justin: So I think that’s kind of where they’re going with this.
21:43 Ben: Alright. Then to point four, was it genuine? It didn’t feel forced at all to me.
21:50 Justin: Yeah. What I like about this is I think they kind of said, “We may be artisans, we may all have different thoughts and feelings, we may… Some of us may think we’re perfect, but we are not perfect.” There are some in there that may be portrayed a little bit more of a snobby approach to the coffee tasting, but were wrong, dead wrong. Others who had no idea but they’re wrong. Some were right but others just admitted they didn’t know. And I think that as part of their culture they know they’re not perfect.
22:27 Ben: Okay.
22:28 Justin: And so I think that’s very welcoming from a potential employee’s stand point.
22:33 Ben: Okay. I’m gonna take a third stance on my interpretation of this. Maybe it’s that there’s something for everyone there. There’s the person who… Like one of those guys, clearly you can tell the way he was tasting it and I think he ended up liking the more expensive one. He’s clearly a coffee connoisseur kind of thing. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s the woman who admitted that she may not actually be that much of a coffee person. There’s a woman who said, “Yeah, I could have that with my cream in the morning” indicating she’s not much of a coffee person but she got into the ritual. So maybe it’s that also that there’s just something for everyone at Basecamp. Whether that’s you being a client of base camp or you wanting to work there. ‘Cause when we first started this company we had Basecamp. We used it for a while and it worked for the very limited needs that we had and it had, and it works for companies that have huge needs. So I can see how on both ends it could also be just that statement, “Something for everyone.”
23:31 Justin: Yeah.
23:32 Ben: Okay. So again, quick recap, the four key elements of a good company culture video.
23:39 Justin: Honesty. Authenticity. Real. Genuine. They all mean the same thing.
23:44 Ben: Sure. So that’s a look at a couple of good company culture videos. Next time we’re gonna take a look at a couple of bad examples of company culture videos, and we’ll see you then on Press Play.
23:53 Justin: Bye, bye.