What is production value anyway? By definition, production value is: 


The lighting, sound, scenery and props used to improve a film or play.


Simply put, it’s the money spent on what the viewer sees on screen. But, that doesn’t mean an expensive production equals a successful production. You can spend the majority of your budget on a costume, location or camera package, but if the creativity and story is low quality, the final product will be too. It also doesn’t mean that every production needs to look like a Christopher Nolan movie to be successful. The right production value is what matters – for your brand, your audience, and your message (and in reality, your budget!). 


For us at Spot, the first questions we ask our clients when engaging a new project are: 

1) What is your core message(s)? 

2) Who is your audience(s)? 


The answers to these questions are the most crucial to understand because delivering to those accurately will result in positive reactions to your media and, ultimately, engagement with your brand. These are more important than the amount of money that you spend on production value. You could have a singular message but multiple audiences that need to absorb it OR multiple messages that you need to get across in a single video – either way, you need to make sure you allocate enough of the budget into what matters most to deliver the core message(s) to the core audience(s). High production value without clear and targeted messaging is essentially… useless. As the saying goes, content is king. 


Take the current situation, a global pandemic that has completely changed the way we interact. Production was halted across the globe, while messaging became even more critical as brands needed to articulate their reactions and next steps more clearly than ever. Lower “remote” production value has become acceptable by audiences in TV and marketing. Talk shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, have continued to broadcast without their expensive stages and fancy cameras, proving that the audiences are coming back for the content – what it’s always been about. If you want a sample of some of this self-recorded content, also check our own video explainer on the topic.


The last thing we ask a client is about their budget – and how to navigate this can be challenging. The exact ROI of video is difficult to calculate in many instances. It’s a long-term investment if you want to keep engaging viewers with video. That means coming out of the gate you might not need something that is visually expensive. You can build up your production value over time as you grow, learn what works, and see a return on that media. And don’t let budget restrictions stop you from promoting with video. If you are working with a good team, you can figure out a way to get it done. 


Overall, my advice is to invest in your team first, work with and hire diverse people and organizations that think differently than you do, who are passionate about your brand and mission. Invest in creative second, which you can do in more ways than just your wallet. From here, you’ll be well on your way to defining your brand’s authentic voice and the appropriate production value will follow. Remember, I’ve seen successful campaigns for $5,000, and unsuccessful campaigns for $500,000. That being said, always keep expectations in check. Don’t go into a project expecting a Picasso with the budget for an Ikea print. 


Brittany Santagata, Head of Production