Guidelines for how to use video to aid in our storytelling across mediums with our customers and products.


Video is a crucial part of our storytelling process, and these guidelines are here to help us remember how to get it right. Below are some simple descriptions of the kinds of videos that we make, as well as some examples of how to, and how not to make a sweet GitHub Video.

Ground rules

  • These guidelines pertain to outward facing videos. Internal videos have fewer constraints.

  • These guidelines apply to all video work completed by outside contractors on our behalf.

  • All outside contractors must be managed by the internal video team to make sure that they comply to our standards.

  • Unless it’s a very special case, we prefer not to use GitHubbers in any video. GitHub currently does not employ any professional actors, hosts, or voice-over artists. So there’s no reason to use a Hubber when a pro is available. Putting our co-workers in front of the camera severely cuts the quality, and potential longevity of the piece.

  • The GitHub Video Team is committed to diversity in our portrayal of the world. As image makers and as representatives of GitHub, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to represent all kinds of people in our marketing. We consider this mandate at every step of the production process.


Our audience is a diverse crowd, and we want to reach GitHub users at all stages of their familiarity with us. We hope to deliver something meaningful to the first-time user, the professional coder, and the super-fan. Generally, they are curious and intelligent, they have a sense of humor, and they want to know more about us.

Our audience’s time is valuable. So we don’t spam our YouTube page with endless videos about every little thing that GitHub does. We prefer fewer high quality videos to a barrage of boring content. We also want to treat them with respect. So we don’t create content that is overly “salesy”. For most videos, we prefer the soft-sell. Different videos may specifically target certain subgroups of our audience. Some may target multiple groups. Below are a few of the groups that we serve.

  • Super-Fans: The people with GitHub stickers on their bedroom ceilings. Our “Plush Toy Commercial” is for them.
  • Learners: Students or people trying to include GitHub in their toolbox. The Training Videos are tailored for them.
  • Casual GitHub users: Current users, or people who have just heard of us. The “How we build software” is for them.
  • Technical Users: Folks that are curious about how others use GitHub. Octotales are made for these folks.
  • Non Technical Deciders: The CEOs of potential Enterprise customers. Our “What is GitHub Video” is partially for them.


Messaging is always changing. And we fully expect our marketing strategy to morph over the years. But here are a few themes that we’ve used in the past.

  • GitHub is how people build software.
  • GitHub empowers developers.
  • GitHub is where software is built.
  • GitHub makes technology approachable..
  • People come first.
  • GitHub is about workflow not tools.
  • Software developers are changing the world.
  • GitHub is a platform. (This one is new, and I’m not sure if it’s really happening)


Imagine that GitHub is an individual; a person with a well developed identity, and consistent values. Depending on the situation, this person may decide to wear a different outfit, change her hairstyle, and even the things that she says. But she will always be the same person underneath. So it is with the tone of our videos:

The core values of Collaboration, Empathy, Quality, Positive Impact, and Shipping are a constant. They are what make GitHub’s identity. The Tone of our videos are the different styles of dress that we decide to put on based on the event. We have 5 distinct tones that we use in our videos. A rare video might mix genres, but most of our projects exist within these categories:

1: Brand Videos

These are the high production big picture pieces like the Anna Video. Brand Videos conform to the following criteria:

  • Scripted: we carefully write these pieces to send a clear and powerful message. There is no improvisation.
  • Broadcast-quality picture: these are the highest budget videos that we make, and are 1-3 minutes long.
  • Soft sell: we mention GitHub only minimally, focusing instead on the story of our characters’ experience.
  • Curated artistic palette: all actors, set dressing, wardrobe, graphical elements are coordinated.
  • Inspirational and Friendly: the messaging is earnest, casual, fun, intelligent, and positive.
  • Simple storytelling: no complicated technical details about GitHub. Focus is on how real people use it.
  • Evergreen: these videos exist outside of any particular campaign or feature. They can serve us for years.

2: Documentary Series

There are a few series in this category. The Octotale Series is well established. In 2017 we plan to add a series about open source maintainers, and a series about Enterprise customers. These videos all have the following in common:

  • Un-scripted: these videos are true stories about our users, their lives, and the problems they’re solving.
  • Innovators and Movements: stories about people, teams, and companies on the cutting edge. Not simple before/after pieces.
  • Soft sell: We only mention GitHub very briefly. It’s a spotlight on the customer, not our product.
  • Aspirational and Intelligent: Subjects are thought leaders. Messaging is thoughtful, detailed, and friendly.
  • Beyond “before and after”: These videos push way past a mere customer success story.
  • Online Viewing: These videos are designed to be watched online. They are 1-6 minutes in length.

3: Training Videos

What makes our training videos unique? Allen should write this

4: Product Videos

These videos spotlight the release of a particular product. They are similar to our Brand Videos in many ways… but are more specific in detail, and more flexible in execution. Like the GitHub LFS Video and the Atom 1.0 Video, they often vary from one another in tone. But they conform to the following guidelines:

  • Scripted: we carefully write these pieces to send a clear and powerful message. There is no improvisation.
  • Broadcast-quality picture: these are high quality videos, and are 1-3 minutes long.
  • Curated artistic palette: all actors, set dressing, wardrobe, graphical elements are coordinated.
  • Fun and Clever: These videos are more playful than our Brand pieces. We don’t hold back on comedy, and we often play with historical cinematic genres.
  • Informative, yet Minimalist: focused on product features, but understated in presentation. No waterfalls of narration.
  • Timely: created as part of a marketing campaign. Often released at an event or with a certain product.

5: Event Summary Videos

GitHub throws many events throughout the year, and we document them with this video series. We cover all of our flagship events in a simple documentary style. Examples include Git Merge 2015. GitHub Satellite 2016, and GitHub Universe 2016. There are many ways to cover an event, and our videos do so within the following parameters:

  • Un-scripted: These are documentary videos. We let people tell the story of an event in their own words.
  • Themes: We focus on the theme of the event, not just the event itself. Community developments, industry trends, and exemplary individuals are the story.
  • Simplicity: We keep these brief. They are ideally less than 2 minutes long. We often only interview one person.
  • Not a party: We do not include hero shots of eating, drinking, ping pong tables, or the after party.
  • Timely: Videos are used to summarize last year’s event, and promote next year’s. After that, they’re just history.

Technical Stuff

Our videos range greatly in genre and tone, so we’re quite flexible with our choice of gear, staff, and software. Video equipment and distribution portals are changing quickly, and we expect to change our practices every year. That being said, there are a few guidelines that will likely remain constant.

1: Typography

Typography should adhere to GitHub’s overall typography style (tracked in #135)

2: Animated Titles

Animated titles should adhere to GitHub’s illustration standards (tracked in #155)

3: Color

The Design team uses a specific palette of colors in all of their materials. We don’t usually adhere to their guidelines, as video is very different. But in certain cases, such as with the “What is GitHub” video, we worked closely with them.

4: Classic videography pitfalls to avoid

These should really go without saying. But hey… we’re all guilty of these from time to time. And I had a lot of fun writing this section.

  • Skype or Zoom interview: We don’t do that. We can afford to make something more watchable.
  • Non-professional camera operators: No footage shot by customers, event attendees, or random users.
  • Rolling shutter: Don’t get too crazy with the DSLR, making straight lines bend in the wind.
  • Fluorescent flicker: Watch out for those flood lights at events and creepy street corners.
  • Using bad microphones: We don’t use in-camera sound. That’s for the early 2000’s.
  • Over-use of new trendy gear: No one wants to see more than one or two drone shots per video.
  • Cross dissolves: Don’t do it unless you’re being ironic. (Check with Pam if you’re tempted. She’ll shut you down.)
  • Other bogus video transitions: No. That’s for that sweet video I made in high school.
  • Acid Trip color correction: We use bright colors, but we don’t “make things POP “ unnecessarily.
  • Deleting footage: make two copies of your footage as soon as possible.


Where do we host our videos? How do we organize our Youtube page? Pam should write this


Eventually we sometimes choose to remove a video after a certain amount of time. The most common reason in the past has been that a video included a previous employee who is no longer at the company. Now that we try to limit GitHubber presence in our work we should run in to this less often. Still, there are some reasons to retire videos.

  • The product we spotlighted itself has been retired.
  • GitHub has changed its messaging, and an old video no longer complies.
  • The industry in general has moved on, and our video feels out of date.
  • The video’s technical fidelity is no longer sufficient. (We should be good on this for at least 5 years)
  • GitHub has changed its name to Digisoft Systems Solutions.

Thanks for reading all this stuff! (you didn’t)