Location Scouting Strategy for Effective Messaging

I’m sure we have all seen that dreary video where the whole story is filmed in one place against a bland wall. And what did you take away from that video? In all honesty, you probably don’t even remember the video’s message. Your brand has something more to offer your viewers than just a white wall! That’s why location is key when creating a video to market your brand.

For example, the Tapestry Collection by Hilton highlights a partnership with Youth Services of the Arts, which is an organization that awards arts-focused grants to communities. Not only are the locations of this video eye-catching, but they also serve as a metaphor for Angelica Petitlubin’s poetry and creativity. So, if you want your content to be exciting and out of the box, follow these best practices when it comes to finding the perfect location for your video to deliver effective messaging.

Setting the Tone

Grabbing a viewer’s attention within the first few seconds of your video is essential if you want to have a higher chance of successfully delivering your video’s message.  And a great location will be the perfect hook to grab your viewer’s attention! Setting is a core component in establishing your video’s mood and tone.

Take a look at our Ad Council “Love Has No Labels” campaign video. Notice how the location is set in Los Angeles on a busy street. In this setting, we get a sense that these are real people and not actors. This location is able to make the audience understand the authenticity of the video’s message and a sense of community. This neighborhood-feel compounds the spirit of the video: you are welcome, no matter who you love.

On the other hand, you might want to go for something more intimate. For example, this video for the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is about a very personal topic: remembering the life of a mother and patient who lost her battle with cancer. It’s a quieter story, and we only meet a few people in her family.

The setting echoes this sentiment. The audience is invited into the family’s home to hear about the life of their mother. This feels natural to our viewers, who feel more comfortable discussing such an intense topic at home. Meanwhile, this location also helps those watching connect to the family’s story, giving context to the people that live there. Creating that sense of connection to the subject is extremely important for a video which has a goal to raise money for the nonprofit.

Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center by Green Buzz Agency

If Able, Location Scout

Scouting a location offers you the opportunity to view the location and see how lighting will work, or the possible sound quality. Figure out what sounds might interfere with your audio. It also allows you to establish which equipment can be used, based on how large or small the space is. This might seem overwhelming, so here is a list to refer to when scouting a location:

How is the sound quality? Is there any noise that might interfere? 

What natural lighting is available? Too much, too little? 

Are there any/enough electrical outlets?

Can you fit all your equipment and cast/crew in the space?

Is the location free? Do you need a permit?

Is there a restroom anywhere nearby?

Is the place clean? Any trash or damage?  

Is there anywhere for the cast to wait before they go on screen?

Is there parking? If so, is there enough?

Are there any unloading options available?

Be sure to visit your location around the same time you plan to shoot.

Because the answers to these questions are crucial to a video production, not scouting a location should only be done if you are on a time crunch, are fairly familiar with that location, or it’s a smaller production.

Another thought – it’s always a good idea to know your location before writing your script. If you know where you will shoot, drawing out a storyboard is far easier, and it helps you envision your shots more efficiently.

Locations Don’t have to be Far and Wide

Did you know that some locations require permits and those can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000? Acquiring those permits takes time as well — weeks or sometimes months. Even though locations are a critical part of your video and production process, know that locations do not need to be far away or cost you extreme amounts of money. The importance of location can still be achieved in a free space. Shooting in a close and free location is a great choice when on a budget or time crunch.

On top of this, keep in mind that setting up all your video equipment and traveling may take longer than you expected. It’s important to factor in this time as well, as it affects the amount of time you have for shooting your content. For example, it can take about 2 hours to set up and another 2 hours to take down all the equipment for a less complicated shoot. If your concept includes shooting in multiple locations, you’ll have to add that four hours for set up and tear down, plus any transportation time in between. In this case, you’ll need to coordinate with your production team to ensure that your shoot day is long enough to accommodate your number of locations.

Using your office is also another great (and free!) option for filming. This Lidl video is shot in their office and the quality of the video is still up to par with our other videos in more complex locations. Being able to see some of the operations within the office gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look and provides a sense of trust for this company. We see that they are more than just a company, but also a community.

Get to know the location, and shape your video with that location in mind. This is how you can stand out from other companies.

Accept that Not All Locations May Work Out

Whether shooting indoors or outside, understand that things may change. Not everything is going to go according to your plan, and being able to adjust is critical. If outdoors, consider what the weather might be like on the days you want to shoot, and always have a backup location or provide extra days in your shooting schedule.

If you were unable to location scout, remain open-minded as the location might not be what you expected (poor sound quality, no space for equipment, poor lighting, etc.). There is definitely more than one location that can aid in your video’s message, so think outside of the box if your first location does not work out. Be prepared and understand that the unexpected is bound to happen.

Consult with a Location Expert

About 21% of marketers don’t know where to start when it comes to making a branded content video. So, the first step for you might be to consult with a location expert before creating the entire vision for your video. If you have your video’s message figured out, a location expert can help you determine a great place to shoot to aid in that message. Or you might have a specific location in mind you want to shoot at like a historical building, but are unsure where to find the best one. A location expert can help you find that perfect historical building.

Moreover, in today’s business environment, more and more companies are spending their resources on videos. There are many advantages to video and companies realize this. On average, more than half of businesses create a new video per week, and 26% of companies create new videos each day. For beginners, instead of wasting resources, time, and money, consulting with an expert can help. This allows your company to spend more time on the content of your video’s message.

To demonstrate, check out this Lowe’s video by Green Buzz Agency that takes place in several places. Finding these locations can be difficult. You might live in a city like D.C., and finding a warehouse like in this video can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Location experts make your life easier by finding the spaces you need quickly. 


In the long run, work smarter, not harder. Locations can be tricky, but they can be made simple if you follow these practices. Remember to be open minded, flexible, and diligent. And use your creativity! Let’s break out of those boring, white wall videos. Your audience will appreciate it.

Updated on January 24, 2020