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The Art of Title Sequences: A Marketer’s Narrative Tool

Much like a title sequence in film and television, your brand is your first opportunity to engage an audience. Within a very short time it sets the tone, establishes the setting, and, if done correctly, can be an incredibly powerful storytelling tool to sell your audience on your product or service. You’re crafting the first impression, which won't be an elaborate introduction to a TV show, but the principles are the same. 

It’s the initial handshake, the first glance, the opening notes of a symphony. This is where you can use visual cues, thematic elements, colour, typography and more to create a lasting impression.


Narrative as a Guiding Star

A title sequence tells a story; it uses sound and visuals to convey the essence of the narrative that follows. This is no different from marketing your brand, product, or service. By using visual storytelling to guide your audience, you can much more effectively convey the message you want your target audience to understand. By aligning your narrative with your visual strategy, you can lead your audience to the heart of your brand’s story.


Need a few examples? No problem.

We could give dozens of examples here but we’ll keep it to five. When you watch these, keep the above in mind and you’ll understand why the artists, designers, directors, composers, and all others involved, choose to do what they did for each sequence.


Game of Thrones

Official Opening Credits: Game of Thrones (HBO)

The opening sequence of Game of Thrones is one of the most iconic intros in television history. It features a stunning virtual map of Westeros that immerses viewers in the story's world and introduces the show's key factions, while visually representing their respective spheres of influence and power. The most interesting aspect of the sequence is how it changes with each episode to reflect the progression of the storyline and the characters' journeys.


What’s the Lesson?

Stay relevant and keep your audience engaged by evolving your story and visuals to match your products or services.


Shogun

The opening sequence of Shogun is one of the newest on this list, however, you can instantly see the lessons it has learned from the opening of Game of Thrones. The map-like landscapes, the pieces on a board preparing for war, and even the way the camera sweeps across a map, all are elements it has taken from its contemporary. Of course, it differs in a lot of ways to make the story their own by focusing on Japanese culture and art, particularly the use of Bonseki.


What’s the Lesson?

You don't always have to start from scratch. Instead, learn from your competitors and use what works to tell your story.


The Simpsons

The opening sequence of The Simpsons is so deeply ingrained in our culture that multiple generations could easily give you a rundown of it from memory. Unlike the title sequences mentioned above, which are often subtle and metaphorical, The Simpsons' opening sequence is straightforward and tells you exactly what the show is about with no ambiguity. The show is a comedy about a peculiar family living in an odd town where absurdism and social satire are used to tell stories. Over the years, the opening sequence has evolved into a story within a story, with thousands of messages on Bart's blackboard and countless hijinks when the Simpsons gather on their couch.


What’s the Lesson?

You can incorporate stories within stories to sell your brand, but most importantly, it's okay to have fun. Some brands should seriously try to relax a bit.


Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop may be a little obscure for most people, as it is a Japanese anime. However, the show is one of the best adaptations for Western audiences. The opening title sequence though! It will hook you immediately and tell you what the show is all about. Silhouetted characters appear against coloured backdrops, with hints of the story racing across the screen like newspapers. The animation is focused and stylish, creating a sci-fi noir atmosphere. Most importantly, the music is a perfect fit, enhancing the style and story which makes it an integral part of the entire sequence.


What’s the Lesson?

Don't underestimate the impact of style in catching your audience's eye. Moreover, music should not be used simply as a background to your story; when used properly and carefully considered, it can enhance the emotional response to your marketing.


Stranger Things

The opening title sequence of Stranger Things is by far the least complex out of all the examples given above. It’s simply letters moving together one by one to reveal the title of the show, but therein lies the brilliance. Stranger Things is an 80’s-style horror mystery where the opening sequence imparts these things mostly through emotion. The music is 80-style synth, but instead of being bright and energetic like most music of the era, it’s dark and foreboding. While you’re feeling this, the letters come in like pieces of a puzzle until you see the whole of it. It says so much while doing so little because it fully understands what it is.


What’s the Lesson?

The importance of music could be the lesson here as well, but the main takeaway is about simplicity. Understanding your audience is key to being able to convey your message in the simplest way possible without losing its essence. If you can achieve this, it means that you truly comprehend both your message and your audience.


The Marketer’s Opening Gambit

The first impression is your opening gambit, the first move in the game of engagement. Use it wisely, and you’ll not only capture attention, but also set the stage for everything that follows. It’s an opportunity to tell a story that resonates, to create a connection that lasts, and to begin a journey that leads to the heart of your brand.


In essence, the art of the title sequence is no different than the strategy behind marketing. Both are about preparing and engaging an audience, telling a story, and creating an experience that is both memorable and meaningful.

 

Need Help?

This is far from easy and we all need help, so let us be a part of your team so you can make a great first impression. Get in touch to talk about how we can help you tell your story!


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