TBV Insights

5 questions you should ask about explainer video animation

“Animation” means breathing life into something. Explainer video animation is popular because just about any subject can be explained — without the need for actors, crews, and cameras. But what style of animation is best? Here are five must-ask questions to help guide your choice.

What is the hook?

If your video is chiefly about your brand, or your product really makes life more enjoyable, you want to make an emotional connection. You need to figure out exactly which emotion you want to evince in the very first scene — sympathy, envy, pride, etc — and build from there.

However, if your solution is one technology buyers are researching online, they may resist having their heartstrings pulled. (Though customer success stories are always effective.) Buyers who are doing their own research value insight above all else. Try to start off with something they’ll be glad to know.

Do I need characters for explainer video animation?

If it’s emotion you want, animated characters deliver.  Animated characters can use body language, facial expression and take actions viewers will identify with.

On the other hand, talking characters can get in the way of delivering insight. Visual explanations, such as animated diagrams, models and charts, are usually more efficient and leave a more lasting impression. Of course, characters can interact with other kinds of visuals and their environment. If they’re not adding emotion or information, they may be just getting in the way of the story.

What kind of characters should I use?

In fiction, most of us prefer character-driven stories. Of course, character development isn’t really an option in explainer video animation. But if you use characters extensively, they should be interesting, not generic. They can be interesting because of who they are, the way they appear, or the way they talk. Or all three.  

How will my solution help the viewer?

Defining how your solution helps the buyer helps define your story. It also helps you decide whether you need to depict the buyer or your characters in a specific situation or environment. If an environment needs to be depicted in detail, that may run up the cost of the video.

Does the video need to be all animation?

Link to animated explainer video that incorporates stock video.
This animated explainer video about an anti-money laundering compliance solution incorporates stock video. This choice was made to keep the tone serious.

Certainly not. If your solution looks interesting or impressive in real life, it’s worth trying to figure out how to incorporate live-action video or photography into your animation. In the example linked here, we felt there there wasn’t much for cartoon characters to say or do, whereas stock video of people who look like bankers and their customers could help to humanize the value proposition.

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