Explainer Videos

6 Things to Consider before Kick-Off

Blake Harris 06.01.2015

Whether you wind up working with us, or a different animation company, one of the first steps to getting started on your video will be a kick-off call to discuss your needs. Since this is just the first conversation of many to come, it’s not necessary (nor expected!) that you’ll all the answers. After all, part of our job is to work with you at discovering those solutions. But even though the right path will eventually reveal itself, below is a list of some things that might be helpful to think about before getting started with your animation provider:

1. Message: Although your explainer video will ultimately touch upon a variety of talking points, it can be helpful to ask yourself: what is the over-arching message I want this video to deliver? Is it the announcement of a new product or service? A change in corporate policy? An introduction to, or reminder of, what exactly your brand represents? Thinking about this question abstractly may seem a bit challenging—especially when it feels like there is so much to say—but ultimately it comes down to this simple question: Why are you making this video? The answer to that will help drive the narrative engine of your explanation video.

2. Audience: This is an easy one, but an important one nonetheless. Because the what and how of your message should be specifically tailored towards the who. Is this going to be an internal video? And, if so, who will be watching? Is it all of your employees, or just a specific segment of the company? Will this be domestic or global? And where exactly will it be viewed? Through an e-mail link? A portal? An orientation training session? There is no best answer to this, except to say that factoring this in is the best thing to do. And the same principle applies to external videos as well. Are you making this to connect with potential investors? Recruits? Customers? And, if it is customers, who is your typical consumer? What kind of things appeal to this demographic? Who is your audience and how can we best speak to them?

3. Length: The answer to this will primarily be dictated by the complexity of your message, but it’s also worth factoring in realistic expectations of your audience. As any marketing maven will tell you, it’s dangerous to underestimate the value of holding  someone’s attention. But then again, you probably know this already; as you’ve opted to make an animated video instead of a long and dry public service announcement.

4. Animation Style: What style best suits your corporate culture? Which approach seems most likely to craft an effective and entertaining conduit for you message? Do you prefer a 2D environment, or is 3D a better choice? Or perhaps what you’d prefer is something created with an RSA-style whiteboard animation technique? Each style brings with it a variety of unique advantages, so what this really boils down to is a question of taste. What do you like, and how do you envision your story being told?

5. Tone: This is perhaps the most often ignored elements of a video, but it ends up being one of the most pivotal of them all. That’s because the tone of your video sets the stage for how your audience will feel and, in many cases, the extent to which your message will be received. So it’s important to ask yourself: what’s the right tone to empower this message so that it will resonate with audiences? Should this video be funny? Or might a light-hearted sensibility betray a more serious message? Okay then, maybe buttoned-up is the way to go? Or dramatic? Or perhaps even, in the rarest of cases, something scary and spooky is the answer? Hey, haunted house companies need explanation videos too!

6. Call to Action: This is the payoff, the part where you run the ball into the end zone (or the part preceding the touchdown dance of whatever sports metaphor your prefer). This is where, if your video is effective, you propel your viewers towards  some kind of action or change. This could be anything from asking employees to click on a link to persuading potential consumers that they ought to give you their money. And despite its phrasing—call to action—it need not even be an action. Perhaps what you’re really seeking is just a thought or a behavior. For example: the next time X happens, don’t forget to think of Y. Or let’s all be more conscious of Z, and act accordingly going forward. So whether or not you have a specific action in mind, or are simply hoping to clarify XY&Z, just remember that you decided to make this explanation video for a reason and, when all is said and done, that goal is addressed and hopefully accomplished.

Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

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