Explainer Video

5 Great Explainer Videos that Don’t Say a Word

Shawn 05.30.2014

Here at IdeaRocket, we take explainer-video voiceover pretty seriously. The right accent, inflection, and tone always add something immeasurable to an explainer, and when we hear the perfect voice that matches an animation, it’s a magic moment.

But.

Sometimes, the best explanation is better left unsaid. Explainer videos are a fundamentally visual medium, and while we love a nice yarn, talking isn’t the only way to get your point across.

So in acknowledgement of there’s more than one way to create great explainer videos, we present are our favorite voiceover-free explainers.

#1 Squarespace: “Create Your Own Space” – 491,957 views

Squarespace caters to designers, programmers, restaurateurs, writers, eCommerce sites, bloggers, and small business owners, so condensing all of these markets into a single campaign is tough enough. But they took their video marketing a step further by removing the voiceover entirely.

The clean shots of artists, craftsmen, and creators at work is inspiring, and uniform imagery that unifies this video – despite the chaos of interwoven scenes – becomes the primary storytelling element. This explainer video practically screams “even though your work may be as different as welding is to baking, you take your craft seriously – and so do we.”

But Squarespace didn’t abandon voiceover without a plan. The static, uniform overhead shot is crucial to telling the “same story” for all the different professions, and the cuts and edits are flawless. Yes, you do hear a male announcer in the last three seconds (you stickler), but this is a wonderful example of how committing to a simple style can be all the story-telling element you need. Wonderful job.

#2 Fifty-Three: “Pencil – Think With Your Hands” – 1,002 Likes

This product does everything right, but the way Fifty-Three highlights the UX and ease of use is simply perfect. The new Pencil stylus is literally the center of attention of the explainer as the camera tracks its every move (I got a tiny bit queasy). The ergonomics of Pencil as a natural writing, sketching, drawing, erasing tool come through in every frame.

The use of ambient sound – especially in the beginning – sets the mood of the everyman creator. Glasses clink, fabric scratches against wooden tabletops, and the viewer is right there, creating alongside them. We feel the soft warmth of the tablet in our laps as we sketch our next masterpiece or jot off a quick grocery list.

The way they toy with the stylus, tap it against the table, or flip it around to erase on the tablet is classic “show don’t tell.”

I’m buying one of these.

#3 AirBnB: “Wishlists” – 26,229 views

Much like Dropbox, AirBnB has cornered their market with a dynamic product and oh-so-clever marketing. One of my favorite videos is their “Views ”video which features the different views from hosts’ windows around the world. It’s epic but, sadly, features voiceover (a really good one, too!). Their “Wishlists” explainer video, however, is a clear example of UX Video Marketing 101.

Every frame – from the establishing shot of the girl lost in a daydream at work, to the couple cuddling as they plan their honeymoon – is focused on the user. Close-up screenshots and product shots immerse viewers in the ease of use, but the success of the explainer video is more than just a product explanation.

AirBnB shows how Wishlists helps you plan your dream vacation, honeymoon, or weekend getaway. This video quietly inspires viewers to dream up a Wishlist of destinations and see what’s waiting around the next click.

Maybe it’s a castle (AirBnB totally has castles, by the way).

#4 Knock: “Faster and Safer than Typing a Password, Just Knock” – 691,281 views

I’m actually not a huge fan of this product, but I’ll be damned if Knock To Unlock – or simply “Knock” – didn’t boil the user experience down to its essentials. No flowery sentiment or complicated tech specs here. Just what Knock does. Twice. How fitting.

#5 Spotify: “Spotify has Landed in the U.S.” – 770,144 views

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvYX_P_c__8#t=10

The choice to ditch voiceover in this explainer makes perfect sense – Spotify brings you quality music, so why hide that awesome feature beneath unnecessary talking? Let the product shine.

The stop-motion feel to the animation is synched to the music, and the blend of screenshots and branded imagery is tastefully done. While the videos does make use of some kinetic type (almost like silent narration), the user experience comes across through the musical storytelling and vibrant animation. Even years later, this explainer video holds up.

The Takeaway

A designer knows he has achieved perfection, not when he has nothing left to add, but when he has nothing left to takeaway

Sometimes the best promotion means removing the unnecessary clutter, and letting your product speak for itself. Voiceover is a powerful tool to create tone and get your message across clearly – and it shouldn’t be discarded without a great reason.

However, explainer videos are fundamentally a visual storytelling medium, and every so often, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Give us a call if you want to learn more about explainer videos for your business, or shoot us an email if phones aren’t your thing. Don’t worry – you won’t have to say a word.

Shawn

Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at ponieswillbiteyou.com

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