Check a set of steps based on the experience of the best video companies for the process of creating an engaging animated explainer video.
So, you’ve got a fantastic product but have difficulties explaining how it works to prospective customers. It’s not an unusual problem – especially nowadays in niches like tech, which often rely on pre-existing customer know-how.
The good news is that video marketing puts a number of tools at your disposal to solve that problem. And there’s no better style for those situations than explainer videos.
Explainers are short and cost-effective pieces of content designed to nurture your audience with engaging animation and compelling storytelling while subtly moving them further into your funnel.
But given their extensive versatility and flexibility, explainers can vary wildly in terms of execution and development – which can be a bit daunting when it’s time to decide the best approach during pre-production.
So, in this piece, I’ve gathered the most useful pieces of advice from the best video companies out there to guide you through the process of nailing your animated explainer video from the start.
Before You Start: Understand Your Product and Your Audience
One of the most common marketing mistakes stems from not understanding your product (or audience) beforehand. Yes, as crazy as that sounds, many marketers fail to truly ‘get’ what they offer and the preferences of those to who they are offering it.
So, before you even start thinking about the different elements of your video, you should start by answering two simple (but essential) questions:
Who is your audience?
Your marketing efforts have a specific aim: reach your target audience. How can you deliver your message effectively if you don’t even know who you are talking to?
Start by imagining what your ideal clients are like. How does a typical day look like for them? What interests and annoys them? Once you have a detailed picture, you can compare it with real data gathered by your marketing and research team.
What does your product mean to them?
Your video will reach audiences who’ve never heard about your brand or your product… so, why should they care what you’ve got to say?
That’s easy: because your audience has a problem that needs solving, and your product can do that for them.
Once you understand that your product is more than just a product, then you’ll think about it as a solution. This means your video should focus on your product’s benefits rather than just its features.
Having a clear idea of what your product means to your customers should be a key first step not only in your pre-production process but in your marketing strategy as a whole. Otherwise, your message won’t resonate with your audience, and all your efforts will go to waste.
Pouring Out Your Ideas in a Script (The Right Way)
Every one of your favorite movies came previously from a script. But a script isn’t only necessary to know who says what and when: it will also help you organize your vision.
Even if your finished piece won’t look anything like what you wrote, scripting is an essential part of any video production process. Here are a couple of tips to get you started:
- Don’t fear the blank page: Just start writing! Don’t care if it’s good or bad; keep ideas flowing, and let the editing come later. The blank page can become the worst enemy of creativity, so you better get the first words out of the way.
- Keep it short and sweet: Explainer videos are short, usually no longer than 90-seconds. This amounts approximately to a 300-word script, with the main idea presented within the first 80 words. Of course, you can go over the limit, but not too much. Nobody has the time to sit through a long explainer video, no matter how exciting you script it.
As an example, notice how the following video manages to explain the audience’s problem and showcase the solution in no more than 30 seconds.
- Move on to storyboarding: Once you’ve got your story more or less fleshed out on your script, follow your process with a storyboard. That is a rough scene by scene sketch of how you think your video should look. It should contain all the actions, camera shots, and transitions. A detailed storyboard can be even more useful than a script, especially when it comes to videos with animated illustrations.
Finding the Tone of Your Video
This tricky part of the process links back to what I told you about knowing your audience. What do your clients talk like? Which words resonate with them? Are you going to talk to them in a close and friendly manner or use technical and formal vocabulary?
Even though every audience is unique, as a general rule, I advise you to keep your video as simple and as funny as possible. After all, most people are going to bump into your piece because they are looking for help on a specific problem. If you get lost in technical vocabulary, they will probably lose interest and go search for a clearer video.
And as for the funny part, it’s your chance to get creative. People react to content that is entertaining, even if they get just a little tinny laugh. If your piece makes them feel something, chances are they will share it with their friends and (hopefully) and make it go viral.
Vocabulary aside, the tone of your video will also be shaped by the style of animation you choose. You can go with motion graphics when you want data to take center stage and use images as visual aids. You can go with regular explainers when storytelling is your main focus. Or you can use whiteboard drawings to make complex explanations, simple and compelling, like the example below.
Branding Your Video
The most effective types of explainer videos are the ones that walk the line between branded and non-branded content. Explainers look nothing like regular ads that overly try to sell you something from the first seconds. Their main goal is to offer help, so branding your piece is a very delicate assignment.
Hopefully, your brand book can offer you many ways to do this. One of them is to stick to an identifiable color palette throughout your video. The example below shows that they colored the animation with dark purple and light orange to give it a subtle, branded feel. Plus, notice that the brand logo appears at a critical part of the video, right when it’s introducing the solution.
Subtle-yet-meaningful interactions like that can take your explainer to the next level.
As for sound, if you’ve produced video ads before, you can use the same voice-actor in your explainers. And if you have a song or jingle that reflects your brand’s style, you can use it as a background score or introduce it at the end of your piece, whichever is less distracting.
These may seem like nitty-gritty details, but trust me, they will help your audience remember your brand.
Promote Your Finished Piece
So, you’ve finished your video… but the work isn’t over. It’s time to get it to the masses. Where can you upload or promote your video? Well, there are really no wrong answers to this: upload it to everywhere you can.
Of course, you can focus your efforts on the sites and platforms you know your audience spends their time. This usually means embed it on your landing page and upload it to your social media profiles. But by looking and trying out new channels, you’ll have the opportunity to reach new people.
You can even edit a few different versions of your piece to use on each of these platforms. For example, if you’re uploading it on Facebook, be sure to include captions because your video will most likely auto-play with the sound off. Or, if you’re uploading it on YouTube, you can end your video by asking your audience to subscribe to your channel. And don’t forget to use a savvy video thumbnail.
Now It’s Your Turn!
As you can see, there’s quite a bit of necessary details and “insider baseball” knowledge when it comes to getting the most out of your explainer videos. And again, these elements will vary in prominence and importance depending on your message, audience, and specific marketing goals.
That said – and while we didn’t cover every single one here – do know that the elements you’ve read about today will have a significant impact on the quality of your piece.
So, take your time, and start thinking about the best way to implement things like audience-focused themes and branding into your next piece. I promise it will be worth it. Good luck!
About the author: Victor Blasco is an audiovisual designer, video marketing expert, and founder/CEO of the explainer video production company Yum Yum Videos. Besides running the business, he’s a lifelong student of Chinese philosophy and a passionate geek for all things sci-fi.
Title image from Abstract pack on Ouch Illustrations