In today’s digital world, businesses need an explainer video to help communicate their messages effectively and efficiently, and an experienced animated explainer video company can help brands simplify complex ideas into engaging promo videos.
In this guide, we explore the art of the visual story and cover all you need to know to create animated explainer videos that connect with your market.
Unlock the Power of Visual Storytelling
Visual storytelling uses visual elements, such as motion graphics and animation, to effectively explain the specific features of a product or service. In modern marketing, brands need emotional connections with their audience to ensure their message is memorable. Animated explainer video is a common form of video content that tells the marketing story in a relatable and engaging form.
Exploring Different Styles of Animated Explainer Video Production
There are many animations styles, but the ones most commonly used in animated explainer video production are:
1. Cel Animation
2. 2D Animation
3. 3D Animation
4. Motion Graphics
5. Kinetic Typography
6. Stop Motion
How to Choose the Right Animation Style for Your Project
The best explainer video companies combine a great story with the right animation style to best represent a business’ brand, fit the marketer’s budget, and appeal to the consumer.
A classic animation technique used to create highly engaging business explainer videos for many years. Each frame is drawn independently to produce the animation a fluid and uniquely nostalgic feel. It is highly versatile, but labour-intensive and can be one of the most expensive animation techniques.
That said, simple line animation like this animated explainer we made for Happy Socks is cost-effective by making minimalism a virtue.
A digital form of animation that is more efficient and cost-effective than cel animation. The majority of explainer video animation is made in After Effects, the go-to software for 2D animators.
They can create complex animations quickly, as each frame does not need to be drawn by hand and can make use of dynamic colour and shape changes, to work with character animation in an easy and engaging way.
In Hollywood, 3D animation usually means expensive CGI, but for animated explainer videos, it’s less dramatic and less expensive. In business videos, 3D is often used to create depth and lighting, to design more realistic movements for characters or create a product explainer video that would be impossible to film. More often, animation studios partner 3D techniques alongside 2D animation to deliver a cost-effective video.
Motion design or motion graphic animation is a technique where shapes are animated to tell a product or brand story. The benefit of this style is that it can reflect a brand identity while capturing the audience’s attention quickly, and is useful for bringing to life complex concepts, like key information about tech brands or a media company’s approach to e-commerce.
This animated explainer video for OMG relied on relatable storytelling and motion design to communicate a service with no case study or physical presence.
Most forms of motion graphics include text animation, either over video or an image. Originating in movie titles, this technique became very popular pre-pandemic when most corporate explainers were watched with the sound off while commuting or in a shared office. Its popularity hasn’t waned, and it remains an incredibly effective way to get an impactful message across in an animated video.
Key to great kinetic typography is a strong brand and a clear story, this social media video campaign we made for Hiscox is a great example.
This type of animation involves manually manipulating real-life objects one frame at a time and then editing them together to create an illusion of movement. The production process is time-consuming and often requires specialist animators who work solely in stop motion. While this animation style can be very effective (Amazon did a great job with their Echo campaign) it is rarely used by explainer video companies.
It certainly helps shortcut the briefing process when a client comes to a studio with an understanding different animation techniques, and means the animated explainer video company can make an informed decision about which animation type best suits the project’s needs.
Having an idea about the style of animation you want to achieve, helps a corporate video production company define your brief quicker so they can devote more time to creating high-quality animation and less time exploring options.
Of course, if you don’t know what visuals you like, the creative team at a good animation agency will always work with you to get the best result.
How to Brief a Compelling Script.
Getting to a great script
A well-written script and storyboard are milestones on the journey to a successful animated explainer video. An engaging, informative script focuses on your audience’s needs, showcases your product or service’s benefits, and provides a clear call to action.
Scriptwriters will ask their clients several questions to help develop a concept, such as:
- Who is the target audience for this video?
- What problems does this audience have that your brand solves?
- How can we help customers discover hidden features of the product or service?
- What is the brand’s tone of voice?
- What is your desired outcome for the animation?
An experienced copywriter will use their professional expertise to dig deeper, but these are the bare essentials for a good explainer video script.
Visualising the explainer video script
Storyboarding is an important part of any explainer video production process. It helps visualise the script and plans out how the story will move in animation ensuring that the explainer video looks as the client expected.
An explainer video storyboard has three stages:
These are rough black-and-white sketches to plan how the story transitions from one key frame or scene to the next.
These are artworked frames, often created in Illustrator or After Effects by a designer so they can be used in the final explainer video production.
Here the team at the animated explainer video company will edit together static style-frames to check the flow of the narrative. If something moves too quickly understand or lingers on a shot too long, frames can be added or taken away before video production begins
Tips on Using Music and Voiceovers to Tell a Story Through an Explainer Video
While brands worldwide know it’s best practice to make explainer videos that communicate their core message with the volume off, voiceovers and sound design still play a vital role in bringing a story to life.
Sound effects, or SFX, enhance the motion on screen and add drama, humour or motivation to animation. They can also help bed graphic imagery in real-world experience.
Similarly, a voiceover, or VO artist, can convey more information to potential customers in the same timeframe than animated typography. If what you want to say is complex and nuanced, a VO artist can make all difference, and choosing the right one to complement your brand’s tone and style will help the audience remember the animated explainer video’s message.
It is worth bearing in mind that voiceover rates increase based on usage, we cover this as well as info on how much an animated explainer costs in another blog.
Finally, picking the right music will set the tone and mood for your explainer video. Generally, we recommend avoiding songs with lyrics as they can distract from the story you are trying to tell.
If you are planning a campaign of videos, it’s worth commissioning a composer to create a bespoke track with a distinctive style. This can be much more cost-effective than paying for individual library tracks.
How humour, drama, and other elements of storytelling make animated characters relatable
Creating emotional connections with customers is one of the most important aspects of building brand awareness. Our blog on the neuroscience behind brand storytelling covers this in detail. But in summary, storytelling techniques such as humour, drama and empathy trigger biochemicals which deepen connections between consumers and brands.
Animated characters and characterful motion graphics can be imbued with as much life, if not more, than live-action films.
They can be playful, cautious, sad, strong, funny and more. These very human characteristics help the focus audience’s attention on the subject of the explainer video.
Modern-day consumers expect organisations to represent the diversity of our society and animated characters can be designed to reflect any race, gender and disability.
We believe it’s important to avoid tropes and cultural stereotypes, instead showcase diverse characters collaborating. We did just that for Xaxis in this animated explainer video.
How to Use Color Psychology and Cognitive Bias in Your Animated Explainer Video
Colour theory and cognitive bias are two considerations for creating a successful animated explainer video.
This is the study of how colours interact with one another to create a desired aesthetic or emotional response.
This refers to the biases that viewers may have when interpreting visual information.
By understanding these concepts, explainer video production companies can use colours effectively so an explainer video helps a client increase sales.
Warm colours such as red and orange can create feelings of energy and passion, whereas cool tones like blue and green convey feelings of trustworthiness and dependability.
The list below includes many cliches, but cognitive bias often plays to people’s weaknesses rather than their strengths:
- Red – passion, energy, strength
- Orange – enthusiasm, creativity, warmth
- Yellow – happiness, optimism, positivity
- Green – growth, harmony, freshness
- Blue – trustworthiness, dependability stability
- Purple – wisdom, luxury, sophistication
- Brown- reliability, orderliness and conventionality
- Pink – femininity, softness and innocence
- White – purity, cleanliness and neutrality
- Black – power, elegance and mystery
What does good design look like in an explainer video?
If you are working with an animation agency that prides itself on good design, its designers and animators will apply a clear visual hierarchy in your animated explainer video to guide viewers’ attention and emphasise critical information.
There are several factors:
Establish a Visual Hierarchy
Use elements such as size, contrast, and positioning to create focal points and direct the viewer’s eye.
Arrange elements in your explainer video according to principles of design such as balance, rhythm, proximity, alignment, and repetition to strengthen its visual impact.
Incorporate Color Theory
Select colours that will help potential new customers understand your message easily so key details are eye-catching and stand out.
Utilise Typography Principles
Leverage typographic principles like font size, weight, line-spacing, hierarchy, and alignment to emphasise certain points within your explainer video more effectively.
Make Use of Iconography & Illustrations
They may suggest simple icons or graphic illustrations to communicate essential ideas quickly and clearly without relying on words alone.
What’s the Perfect Length for Explainer Videos? Understand How Duration Affects Performance Across Platforms
The worst thing for a video’s ROI is that nobody watches it long enough to see the call to action.
With an animated explainer video, it’s important to be concise and engaging by optimising its length.
As a general rule, we recommend a duration of 60 to 90 seconds. The exact length varies depending on where video is played, but shorter videos tend to have higher retention rates and viewer engagement.
Videos for websites should be between 60 to 90 seconds for maximum viewer engagement and retention rates. Videos that are too long can cause viewers to become overwhelmed and distracted, whereas shorter animated video is more likely to keep the viewers’ attention.
For LinkedIn, an ideal video duration is approximately 1 minute. This allows the viewer enough time to take in the content while also keeping their attention engaged without becoming overwhelmed. Research shows that an animated video of 60″ or less will perform best on LinkedIn due to its newsfeed algorithm which favours shorter video content.
Exhibition or event videos should ideally last no longer than 3 minutes to keep the audience engaged and prevent them from losing interest or becoming distracted by other things happening around them. The structure is important for longer explainer videos, as it’s key viewers are kept interested across the full duration – setting questions to be answered is a good format.
Digital billboards are often placed in areas with high footfall such as lobbies, shopping centres or train stations, which means that people only have a few seconds at most to take in the content on display before moving on. Therefore, any animated video shown on digital billboards should loop and not exceed 15 seconds
Why Measuring Your Video Performance to Maximize Returns
While 85% of B2B businesses include video as part of their content strategy, only 35% are using intermediate or advanced analytics to track the performance of their explainer videos.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical to gain insights that can fine tune and improve a company’s visual storytelling and animated videos for future campaigns.
Metrics to measure are:
– Watch Time
– Engagement Rate (Likes, comments, shares)
– Click Through Rates (CTRs)
– Conversion Rate/Sales Volume
– Retention Rate
– ROI and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
– A/B Testing Tools
Data analytic platforms such as Google Analytics (GA4) are ideal for measuring video campaign performance, and most video hosting platforms like YouTube, Vimeo and Wistia offered detailed metrics on each video you upload.
Animated explainer videos can be an incredibly powerful tool for brand storytelling and driving sales. There are many factors to getting a great video, the script, colour theory, cognitive bias and design principles all ensure maximum engagement with viewers.
Additionally, the length of a video should also be taken into account as different platforms have optimal video durations that will yield better performance metrics such as views, watch time and click-through rates (CTRs).
Content Creatures is a creative agency and explainer video production company. We’ve been putting ideas in motion and creating effective award-winning animated explainer videos for a decade. To find out how we can help drive new audiences to your brand, book a meeting with our Creative Partners today.