Whether or not to use animation for your brand can feel like a big decision.
In general, animation is considered to be more entertaining and creative than normal video. By capturing viewer interest, animation makes it possible to deliver your message in a distinctive and memorable way.
An animation can be helpful when trying to demonstrate hard-to-grasp, invisible processes to your audience. As a result, the animated “explainer” video has become synonymous with technology and financial companies, who need to communicate complex information to their clients and prospects.
Alternatively, incorporating animation into your video marketing can also offer a fantastic opportunity to tell a story and evoke an emotion in your audience. Creating a character that your audience can empathise with can be helpful if you have a call to action, such as “donate now” or encouraging viewers to buy.
TYPES OF ANIMATION
A story-led animation.
This simple story of a hotel owner struggling with data and third parties, effectively shows us how Revinate can be used by hotels to better improve guest relationships.
A functional demonstration of your product or service.
In this animation for BC&E, we animated a money jar to help explain how their new pension charging system works.
A series of visual representations to support concepts, ideas or explanations.
This video for Jostle neatly introduces us to their People Engagement platform and how it can benefit companies.
Then there is also the style of animation that blends animation with live action, which can be a playful way to communicate to your audience how customers might engage with your product and benefit from your services. A great example of this is PayPal:
5 THINGS TO REMEMBER
1. Animations don’t have to be cartoony
Animation is an artform, not a genre. It can fit any tone, style or function your brand requires.
2. Your character represents your client or buyer persona
If your animation is telling a story, characters can be human or non-human – as long as they represent your consumer.
3. Can be a great solution for a complicated explainer
An explainer video takes away the sales pitch and puts user-experience at the centre. It’s all about how your target audience uses or could benefit from your product or service.
4. Animations are memorable
Breaking a complicated message into scenes or visual representations, our brain is able to digest the information and retain it for longer.
5. Quality over quantity
The best animated marketing videos are short, sweet and to the point. This allows your animator to really go into detail with your video within the allotted time.
TELLING A STORY
If your brand is considering producing animated content for the first time, our Managing Director Adam Neale shares some advice on getting started:
Consider what you want the audience to do after they have finished watching the video, as everything should lead up to that.
If you’re asking a lot of your audience, then you have to give them a lot. That might mean you have to make someone laugh or cry to elicit a response from them.
We find a lot of clients trying to cram in a lot of facts and statistics into videos, and that might not be quite as effective as going down the storytelling route. We know that from storytelling that if you can engage people emotionally then they are more likely to take action.
If you’re looking to inject more emotion into your video, you’ll probably want to introduce a character. If you have a character who your target audience can identify with, then you’re more likely to communicate your message effectively. Adam explains:
The character can give the audience a window through which to see the story. If you have a character who can act almost like an avatar for the target audience, you can put yourself in the shoes of that character and empathise with them.
What’s more, a character makes it possible to tell a three-act story, which is a great way of structuring animation videos for marketing purposes.
Act 1 – Equilibrium
You can have your character start off in equilibrium, where they are going about their daily life, either with or without a problem.
Act 2 – Disequilibrium
Something happens that makes the character realise that they have to take action.
Act 3 – Re-equilibrium
There is a resolution and the problem is solved.
Using the three act structure gives your brand the opportunity to present your product or service as the solution.
LONG TERM CONSIDERATIONS
One of the things that can put people off using a character in their video marketing is that they feel like they’re making a long term decision. But our advice is that it doesn’t have to be.
Brands shouldn’t be put off from using characters in animations because you can very easily create a character in a single video and never have to use that style or character again. But if it works, then you have the option to expand upon that world and develop your marketing campaign. But you’re not necessarily making a decision that’s going to impact your brand in the long term.
(Unless of course you’ve made the decision to specifically create an avatar for your brand for more long-term marketing goals, in which case our advice would be to not stress unduly about getting it “right” first time, as your character design can develop and grow over time).
CREATING THE WORLD OF THE ANIMATION
I asked Adam to go into a little more detail about the benefits of using animation over live action.
Animation is an excellent way to overcome some of the hurdles of video production. A great example is our Colt Technologies cloud animation, where it starts off with someone falling through the floor and landing on a cloud, and then falling from a bad cloud and onto a good cloud. Landing on the good cloud represents the client discovering Colt and the powerful cloud-based solutions they offer.
The elements in this animation could be done in video, but would be much more expensive and time consuming to do. That’s why animation was a great fit for this video, as it presented us with a way to take an abstract concept and bring it to life. This is why animation often works very well for tech or financial brands who have difficult products or services to explain. We can bring it to life with animation with a bit of creative abstraction.
HELPING CLIENTS DESIGN A CHARACTER
We love presenting clients with style frames and working with them to create a character that represents their brand and buyer persona.
Style frames are an essential part of developing an animation – making sure that the client, animator and video production company are all on the same page in terms of design and tone.
Firstly, we always look at brand guidelines and any communications they have made in the past. This is important because if you’re familiar with this then it’s much easier to come up with a character that would act as a proxy for that brand.
With animation one plus point is that you don’t have to be too specific about things like race, gender or age, which means you don’t have to make difficult casting decisions. You can have a character that’s non-human too, but still someone or something that you can relate to and feel emotion for.
For their cloud animation, Colt had never introduced a character into their marketing before, so we worked with them to design a character that was representative of their primary customer – a procurement manager.
Adam goes into a little more detail about the process of designing this character:
Initially we presented both male and female characters because we didn’t know which way Colt wanted to go.
They pretty quickly decided that a female character would be a good match for them. So we embarked on some potential designs. We wanted to be non race specific, so we chose creative colours for the character.
There are lots of stock character shapes you can use, but it was important to us to design a character that didn’t have tiny waists and big eyes like you often see in animations from large studios like Disney. Instead, we wanted to create a character that represented a real person, but still existed within this hyper-realistic world.
We wanted to place the character in an environment that was familiar to humans, but not so familiar that it was completely realistic. So together we agreed that a hyper-real world would be a good fit for this story.
You can watch the full video here!
If you want some more information about producing an animation, check out these articles:
The Animation Process – From the brief to distribution