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Animated explainers tell stories and communicate messages in a way that is memorable and engaging and grabs the viewer’s attention. Videos of various formats are practically everywhere – on social media, websites, events, webinars, seminars, conferences – because they entertain and can be quickly consumed. But explainers are different from other forms of video content. Combining audio storytelling with short, snappy animations that are informative and captivating enables marketers to educate and interact with audiences. Animated videos convey and trigger emotions as well and break down complex concepts and ideas into simple bits that are easy to digest, introducing a particular solution or product in a way that generates action. This is precisely why global brands use short animated forms to tell stories – they maximize user engagement, present a problem and a solution, and ultimately sell. Explainers benefit businesses across sectors because they enable them to cover a host of different topics, from food and beverage and travel to automotive, banking and insurance, tech and science, and energy and natural resources.
As a tool to convey marketing messages and increase retention, explainer videos are widely used to visualize, persuade, compel, and leave a lasting impact. Each brand is trying its best to come up with the right tone, language, visuals, and style to produce a high-quality explainer video that captivates, creates a strong image, and converts their audience. As there are hundreds of techniques and styles to choose from, some better suited to meeting marketing objectives than others, we came up with 10 animation styles that can help businesses to make their brand more memorable, manifest their uniqueness, and maximize their marketing efforts.
🔥 Tip: Hundreds of growing businesses use Socialfix to help them create animated explainer videos to promote and market their services and products. Try us for a free consultation.
1. Silhouette Animation
This style only features characters as silhouettes so that the brand’s message can stand out. Video marketing content can incorporate a variety of transparent materials such as sand, salt, tissue paper, or tracing paper to create images.
While this form is not commonly used, there are plenty of reasons to look into it, especially if the goal is to introduce a new product and make it stand out. Silhouette animation can tell many things, including age, costume, gender, action, or anything else that needs to be put into the spotlight. The character or product is also made more recognizable as details, individual features, volume, and lighting are absent. This format also helps highlight the product as it features a simplified shape that is easy to understand as it captures the essence.
2. Live-Animated Video
A form of a promotional video style, live action is commonly used to explain a service or product and communicate its benefits. This type of animated explainer is a good choice for brands advertising people-oriented services such as a consulting group, hotel, or restaurant as well as for physical products. Using live action means no unicorns, magicians, elves, centaurs, or anything else that can help back up your data and get your message across. Here is where live-animated video enters, combining animation and live action to create engaging narration while keeping the human factor front and center. Live-animated video serves two purposes, and one is creative engagement as the storyline incorporates elements and characters that are not easily predictable. Featuring real people, it also helps to create emotional connection with target audiences and offers businesses the chance to show consumers how their product or service is used by others.
3. Motion Graphic Animation
Making use of simple animated graphics, this style can be used to present industry statistics, communicate policies, or pitch ideas to business partners or investors. Based on moving graphics and artwork, this type of explainer video is also ideal for training and sales as well as for communicating processes and facts as it is not overly cartoonish.
4. 3D Animation
This can be quite expensive as the creation of 3D animation involves computers processing huge volumes of data. It also takes time to render and get the finished product, from a few hours to a couple of days. There are benefits to consider as well, and one is that this type of explainer engages a growing audience that is watching 3D videos. Studies also show that consumers are more likely to buy a product or service when showcased in augmented or 3D reality. A 2020 Harris poll shows, for example, that 66 percent of customers are more likely to shop on a website that features AR/3D images. Another study by Parks Associates, 3D TVs: Adoption, Use, and Purchase Intentions reveals that while more than half of customers (56 percent) are satisfied with 3D TV content, 45 percent want more games and 49 percent want to see more 3DTV program options being added. It is not surprising that many find 3D animation appealing as they can immerse themselves in the story and experience intense emotional reactions.
Explainer videos using 3D animation appeal to consumers and have many uses – they can show the inside functionality of a product, showcase innovative features, and even demonstrate how a system performs in abnormal circumstances such as snow, storm, blizzard, or heavy rain.
5. Paper Cutout Animation
Another variety to look into and a form of stop-motion animation, this is a popular choice for marketing campaigns because it features flat characters and no fancy features, thus allowing viewers to concentrate on the narrative. The cutouts can be made of different materials such as stiff fabric, card stock, paper, or anything else that helps showcase a product or brand. Other types of stop-motion animation include puppet, pixilation, claymation, and object-moving. Claymation involves moving clay while pixilation refers to animating people in a way that they look like stop-motion puppets.
6. Cartoon Animation
This is one of the most commonly used styles because it helps designers to bring any concept or idea to life. Not only does it allow brands to present complex and abstract ideas but they can choose from a variety of cartoon characters and pick the one that conveys their message best. The list of popular characters includes heroes, comedy charters, explorers, superheroes, mythological creatures, and fictional animals. This animation style offers brands plenty of choice and is certainly an attention grabber. The fact is that cartoons have stereotypical or exaggerated features that draw attention and help make a point.
7. Animated Infographic
This is a motion graphic video style that allows brands to inform, educate, and explain complex concepts by using a mix of text, illustrations, and images. It is a powerful tool to rebrand knowledge and break down information into smaller bits that make it easy to understand. When it comes to format, there are plenty to choose from, including list, statistical, hierarchical, informational, comparison, timeline, geographic, and process infographics. More interactive varieties also include non-static elements such as accordions, tooltips, hyperlinks, and animations.
Animated information graphics present data such as charts, numbers, and research in a way that is easy to comprehend. It is no surprise that 65 percent of marketers use infographics as part of their promotional campaigns. As the 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America report shows, infographics are among the most widely used marketing tools, along with illustrations, white papers and ebooks, videos, case studies, and social media posts. Animated infographics are also effectively used by marketers to engage online audiences. Dell’s use of a GIF-centered email in 2014 was the first to prove this: in contrast to previous campaigns, it resulted in 109 percent gains in revenue, 103 percent in conversion rates, 42 percent in click rates, and 6 percent in open rate. A 2020 poll by Venngage that included more than 200 participants shows that today infographics are one of marketers’ favorites. For 40 percent of respondents, information graphics are the most effective promotional tool, followed by presentations and videos (24 percent), stock photos (13 percent), and data visualizations and charts (9 percent). The majority of participants or 71 percent also said that visual content is very or quite important for their marketing strategy.
🔥 Tip: Get more inspiration from our full case study about Mobile Iron’s animated infographics and other marketing projects we did together.
8. Mechanical 3D Animation
This variety is typically used to showcase product details or demonstrate assembly or production processes and their phases. Created with the help of 3D software, mechanical animated explainer videos help show how a product works or is configured and are ideal for companies in the technical industry. Companies that benefit from mechanical 3D videos operate across sectors such as defense, aerospace, automotive, and architecture and design. Based on industry and scope of activity, the types of modelling and visualization that can be put to use include machine, product, engineering, process, explode/implode, and industrial animation.
More broadly, computer generated imagery animation helps illustrate the modus-operandi of physical products and their parts and components, allows for design verification and the monitoring of kinetics, and enables companies to showcase the efficiency and performance of the final product. Based on industry and product, explainer videos can include a variety of materials such as wood, stone, tiles, marble, glass, concrete, brick, asphalt, and fabric. A host of photorealistic materials can be used as well, including metal flecks, oil splotches, scratches, signs of wear, and metal finishes.
9. Whiteboard animation
This style allows marketers to communicate complex information in a more straightforward way because it involves simple graphics that are hand-drawn on а white background or school whiteboard. Among the multiple applications of whiteboard animation are summarizing content for textbooks and educational materials, presenting physical products and software to customers, and teaching staff company policies and procedures. This style is also used to communicate stuff that is really boring such as filing tax returns, legal terms and conditions, or cleaning spark plugs.
Whiteboard animation can help present boring tasks as well. According to a study conducted by Emolument and involving 1,300 professionals, some of the most boring jobs are in sectors like consulting and accounting, finance control, support functions, project management, and legal consultancy. About 81 percent of legal professionals share that they are bored at work and so are 78 percent of project managers and 67 percent of accountants. This is because they handle repetitive tasks such as researching rulings and cases, substantiating and documenting financial transactions, administering payrolls, and examining bank statements. A whiteboard animation explainer video can help employers present boring work tasks in a way that is easy to digest and remember.
10. Typography Animation
Kinetic typography is a style that combines text and motion to express ideas and evoke emotions. It can be used to create advertisements, informational videos, and product presentations and to highlight important points. Typography animation is also a great choice when different language versions are required, voice-over isn’t an option, and marketers have a very short amount of time to hook an audience.
🔥 Tip: Typography animations are an easy way to create visual interest in your videos. Take a look at some more examples on our careers page.
Benefits of Conveying Your Message with Explainer Videos
With the right choice of animation style and a carefully crafted message, explainer videos can help businesses articulate their message, reach wider audiences, increase conversion rates, and highlight their brands’ personality. The potential of this marketing tool is immense as it helps present complex facts and ideas within a very short time and in a visually pleasing way. Explainer videos can help businesses to achieve their marketing objectives provided that they have a well-written script, visuals that grab visitors’ attention and captivate imagination, and focus on the “why” instead of the “how”, “what”, “who”, or “where”. An eye-catching video that meets these criteria can be used in different contexts, be it as part of a slideshow presentation, embedded into a web page or homepage, or on social media.
While the benefits are many, an interesting question to explore is what types of explainer videos are most commonly watched by online audiences. This can help businesses in different industries to evaluate the extent to which animated videos contribute to the success of their marketing campaign. An article published in the Journal of Education and Learning sheds some light on the subject. The study involved U.S. and German participants and focused on the types of explainer videos they commonly watched. The researchers found that the most commonly used videos focus on health issues or demonstrate the benefits of a product. Of all participants, 55 percent of U.S. and 57 percent of German respondents said they watched product videos. The figures for health-related content are 37 percent and 44 percent, respectively. To measure consumer satisfaction, the researchers asked respondents whether they would be interested to watch video content in the future. 62 percent of U.S. and 73 percent of German respondents answered “Yes, probably” or Yes, of course” but this depends on previous usage. The overwhelming majority of participants who answered “yes” (85 percent) have already watched explainer videos compared to 40 percent in the group that has not. Most participants in the U.S. and Germany also said they prefer video content over written text, and only 28 percent of U.S. and 29 percent of German respondents showed preference for written content. The researchers also examined what features customers value the most and distributed a total of 100 points based on perceived importance. In the U.S., knowledge transfer and length ranked the highest (18 points), followed by good speaker (14 points), creativity (13 points), and entertainment value (11 points). Good sound effects and color are the lowest ranked indicators.
The study results show that explainer videos have become popular among online audiences, and the main benefit they articulate is the opportunity for knowledge transfer. This has practical applications for businesses that consider using explainer videos to educate employees about internal policies, operational processes, and product specifications. Knowledge transfer is an approach that can be successfully used to circulate documents, procedures, tasks, ideas, and data to facilitate problem solving and improve overall productivity. Promotional explainer videos serve exactly the same purpose when it comes to knowledge transfer – they explain, introduce, and educate and present a problem and a solution in a way that the listener can easily understand. Ultimately for brands, the explainer video is an elevator pitch taken to a new level.
Wrapping It Up
The choice of style can certainly contribute to creating a buzz about a product or service as some techniques are better suited to demonstrate operational processes while others are more effective in evoking emotions that drive behavior. The choice of format depends on the message your brand seeks to convey, the audience you are targeting, and ultimately, your goals. Information and the opportunity for knowledge transfer are what people value the most but the choice of style can be that attention grabber which helps facilitate learning. Knowledge is the foundation of all things in existence, and good marketers know how to dress it up to put it to good use.
With the right choice of style, there are plenty of good reasons to use animated explainer videos as part of your marketing strategy. For one, they are adaptable, concise, easily shareable, and can be used in a number of different contexts to aid consumers at every stage of the buyer’s journey.