In this article, we’ve compiled 13 of the best inspirational and motivational videos made by brands – demonstrating just how powerful and evocative great video content can be!
“Just do it” is a phrase synonymous with motivation and yet it started life as a slogan for a sportswear brand.
The original campaign, back in 1988, skyrocketed Nike’s sales by 1,000% over the next 10 years.
Since then, motivational videos have increased in popularity. And not just with sportswear brands, but brands in general.
Motivational and inspirational videos are successful because they make people feel a certain way. And emotion almost always inspires action. They can encourage viewers to support a cause, buy a product, and even change their perceptions.
On top of that, these types of videos get people talking. This makes them powerful tools for word of mouth marketing and brand recall.
Videos that inspire and motivate – our top picks
1. Dream Big, Princess (Disney)
Disney is a brand adored by children the world over, and it has been for several decades. But, in the past, the company has faced criticism over the messages its movies send to their young female audience. One study, by Brigham Young University, found that ‘Disney princess culture’ magnified stereotypes in young girls.
However, in recent years there has been a shift towards more heroic, independent Disney princesses. The new wave of princesses–including Tiana, Merida, and Moana–have big dreams that don’t revolve around a ‘knight in shining armour’.
Bringing us to this wonderful, inspirational video by Disney. The Dream Big, Princess campaign was a year-long initiative that brought 21 female trailblazers from 13 countries into the spotlight to share their story. This initial ad for the campaign has been watched over 5 million times and the hashtag #dreambigprincess has been used 160,000 times on Instagram alone.
The effortless cuts between the animated movies we all know so well and real girls succeeding in the sports and activities they love, along with the perfectly-timed lyrics, make for a hugely motivational video.
2. Unsung Hero (Thai Life Insurance)
Life insurance videos often tug on the heartstrings, but they rarely do so in a way that leaves viewers feeling motivated, inspired, and happy about the world.
The Unsung Hero by Thai Life Insurance tells the tale of a typical ‘nice guy’ going about his day and helping people. It appears that he gains nothing from this. But then, in a tear-jerking scene which involves a once dirty, homeless girl now all dressed up and excited to go to school, we see that he “receives what money can’t buy”–a life made richer by helping others.
This heartwarming video, which feels more like a short film in places, went viral in the first week, with 6 million YouTube views and 800,000 Facebook shares. Today, it has more than 50 million views on YouTube.
3. The Boy Who Learned to Fly (Gatorade)
When you pair the life story of a recognisable public figure with colourful animation, you get a video that is going to be enjoyed by millions–15 million, to be exact.
This video is a little bit on the long side for a branded ad (just over 5 minutes), but it is engaging enough to keep viewers interested. And Gatorade is barely featured at all. Instead, the focus is all on the story.
Animation tells this story in a way that live-action never could–a particular highlight is the hands that come out of nowhere and engulf Usain Bolt when he is feeling pressured to perform well. The great thing about the message in this video is that it can be motivational or inspirational for anyone who is worrying about something, not just a sports-related issue.
4. Thank You Mom (P&G)
The best ads are those that choose story over selling, and this P&G video does it in a very clever way. Their products are never outwardly shown or mentioned (aside from some logos at the end) but we see the mothers in the video doing chores associated with P&G products–washing dishes and doing laundry, for example.
The ad–which ran during the London 2012 Olympic Games–gets full marks for being motivational and inspirational. It’s motivational for children who dream of becoming elite athletes and inspirational for the mothers who are helping them get there. The fascinating thing is, most of the video just shows the day-to-day of mothers all over the world, and yet it evokes such strong emotions. This is perhaps one of the reasons that the video won an Emmy for Commercial of the Year.
5. Coco – Inside CHANEL (CHANEL)
As a luxury brand, it is refreshing to discover that CHANEL has humble origins. This video, part of a larger series about the life of Coco Chanel, takes a deep dive into her early life and the start of her career. It’s really humanising to explore the origins of such an established, well-known brand – revealing that, just like today’s budding brands, CHANEL was once a plucky startup with big dreams and small budgets!
The exclusive black and white colour palette–colours that CHANEL is known for–combined with the slick, constant animation make this a mesmerising watch. And the repeated use of ‘Once Upon a Time’, a phrase often used in happy fairytales, gives the viewer food for thought as we learn about the hardships in the fashion designer’s life.
However, the real star of this video, and the component that makes it so inspirational, is the voiceover. The narration becomes slightly louder, faster, and more passionate as the story progresses, leaving viewers with a sense of urgency and perhaps motivation to follow their dream, like Coco Chanel.
6. Give Blood (NHS)
With this thirty second video, the NHS takes something very familiar to British people everywhere–the milkman doing his rounds–and turns it on its head. Instead of delivering milk, he is delivering blood, and it provokes the question: What happens when someone you care about needs some and there’s none left?
This simple metaphor can speak to everyone, which is what the NHS is trying to do. The more people who donate blood, the better. And putting that message into a format that everyone can understand is a great way to motivate people to visit their local blood bank and donate.
Just as we rely on the milkman to deliver our milk every day, we all rely on people to give blood.
7. A Pep Talk from Kid President to You (SoulPancake)
This wonderful video was made by the award-winning video production company, SoulPancake whose motto is: “We make stuff that matters.”
The energy of Kid President in this video is contagious, so much so that the video was viewed more than 6 million times in its first week. In addition to having a strong, inspirational message the script feels very natural with Kid President making jokes and saying the most adorable things like: “you’re gooder than that.”
What makes this video even more motivational is that it is dedicated to a young girl fighting cancer, and Kid President has been through real hardships, too. He suffers from a painful disease that makes his bones brittle. To really inspire action, the video ends with a question: Who encourages you?
8. Life is Better When You Share the Ride (Lyft)
This animated short film by Academy Award-winner John Kahrs is more than just a branded ad. It tells a story inspired by actual Lyft drivers and also features an original song by a Lyft driver turned recording artist.
Community is emphasised in front of the camera as well as behind it. This story about an old lady called June shows what Lyft can mean to a driver. She transforms from a lonely woman to someone who drives around meeting all kinds of new people, thanks to Lyft.
This emotional story is a great way to motivate people towards becoming less sceptical about the app, and maybe even willing to sign up as a driver.
9. Will Finds a Way (Under Armour)
Under Armour proudly calls their brand representative Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “The Motivator of the Masses”, and in this video, it’s easy to see why.
This 75 second ad manages to squeeze in the stories of seven real-life inspiring fitness icons, including The Rock. Each one has a story that is motivational in an entirely different way, allowing the video to appeal to many different people.
Best of all, it finishes with a strong message with Dwayne Johnson looking right down the camera lens as he says: “How did I get here? By being the hardest worker in the room. How are YOU gonna get here?”
10. California Inspires Me (Google Play & California Sunday Magazine)
It’s clear that this interview with singer-songwriter, Thao Nguyen was recorded before this video was made, but somehow that manages to add to the charm. The animation plays on her words a lot, for example, when she says a guitar was floating around the house we literally see a guitar floating around the scene. The graphical style of the video is unusual too, but this all adds together to make the video more memorable and worth talking about.
The motivational aspect of the video comes not only from her story, but from the upbeat music and the visual journey that we see the character go on. A highlight is seeing the washing machines from her childhood laundrette job doubling up as speakers at the end when she finally performs her songs.
11. Don’t You Dare (Cadillac)
This is very similar to the Under Armour video, but instead of fitness icons we hear from people who are thriving and succeeding in their chosen career..
This ad sparks inspiration by cleverly changing the meaning of a phrase that everyone knows to be negative: “Don’t you dare.” In just 60 seconds, the connotations of this well-known phrase are shattered as we see “don’t you dare” as the driver for the success of all of the people in this video.
The video then ends with a powerful call to action for Cadillac, featuring the brand’s motto: Dare greatly.
12. LikeAGirl (Always)
All of the best inspirational videos challenge our perception. This video by Always starts off with what appears to be a little bit of light-hearted humour, but it becomes apparent that the phrase “like a girl” does actually have an impact on the confidence of young girls going through puberty.
The most inspirational people in this video are the little girls who are under ten and don’t yet know the meaning of the phrase. Seeing them do the best that they possibly can when they are told to do something “like a girl” is heartwarming and can inspire viewers to think twice about using the phrase negatively.
This video definitely had an impact among viewers as it has amassed almost 70 million views to date!
13. Dream Crazy (Nike)
What would this list be without a Nike video?
This motivational ad, narrated by American footballer, Colin Kaepernick, has almost 30 million views to date. Similar to Cadillac’s “don’t you dare” video above, this video manipulates the word “crazy” and helps us to realise that being called crazy isn’t always a bad thing.
The video begins by showing people failing in scenes that are sometimes difficult to watch, but this makes for a more motivational story in the end. Throughout the video, people from all walks of life are shown trying hard and achieving their goals, including real-life athletes like Serena Williams and LeBron James. Like all of the best motivational videos, it ends with a powerful message that sticks in the mind: It’s only crazy until you do it. So…just do it.
We all want to evoke emotions in our viewers when creating a video. Inspirational and motivational videos are special because people want to share them with their friends and family, and that’s why some of them end up going viral.
Making a viral video is no easy feat, but if you’re looking for even more inspiration we’ve compiled a list of 22 of the Best Branded Viral Videos Ever.