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PICK OF THE WEEK: An Explain Video About Multi-Asset Investing

Blake Harris 01.13.2016

Asset management is important to many businesses and individual investors, but it can be an intimidating topic to wrap one’s head around. Intimidating and, let’s face it, a dry subject matter to talk about in the abstract. That’s what makes our PICK OF THE WEEK all the more impressive. From start to finish, The Seven Deadly Sins of Multi-Asset Investing is a fun, tremendously accessible explain video that really shows off the tonal versatility of animation.

The video was developed by KinoDesign and animated by London’s Animade studio for Aberdeen Asset Management. As with all informational videos from thought leaders or subject experts, one hopes that the information source has the experience and credentials to pass along firsthand wisdom. In this case, Aberdeen certainly seems to fit the bill; they manage $429.7 billion worth of asses for institutions and private individuals around the world. Which is really just a way of saying that not only did we like the animation in this explainer, but we found the business advice to be interesting and insightful. For example, we particularly appreciated thoughtful, to-the-point tidings like these:

  • “Resist the siren call of short-term opportunity. Finding immediate satisfaction can encourage impatient and short-sided behavior.” 
  • “Whether it’s equities, bonds or property: if everyone is rushing to invest, it’s probably best you don’t. The greed of the herd should always be treated with caution.”
  • “Imitating the Index is the poorest for of flattery. Benchmark hugging…is driven largely by fear. Instead of investing in assets that have just done well in the past, you should invest in those that offer the best potential for future returns.”

3 Things We Loved About This Explain Video:

1. Dynamic Character Design: It’s hard to overstate how valuable character design is to the overall tone and quality of an explainer video. Excellent character design can make a decent video good and make a good video great. So what makes for excellent character design? There is, of course, no checklist of elements–it varies by case and, ultimately, is in the eye of the beholder–but The Seven Deadly Sins of Multi-Asset Investing showcases a few of the ingredients that can really go a long way.

Aesthetically Pleasing: This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many explainer videos feature characters that aren’t exactly easy on the eyes. I don’t mean to say they’re ugly, or unskillful, but they just aren’t particularly likable to watch. Similar to a movie, we’ll be spending a lot of time with our main characters and therefore liking them–wanting to spend time with them, to see what they’ll do next–is not something to be ignored.

Introductory Expression: Also as with movies, it can be hard (or impossible) to describe what accounts for that “it” factor. But by looking at the faces of the first six characters introduced in this story, perhaps we see a clue as to what might be a step towards likability:

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What do each of these characters have in common the first time that we meet them? Smiles!

And not just any smiles, these are relatively soft and understated smiles (as opposed to big, fat cartoonish grins). Smiling can be contagious and, when drawn with skill, can be a great way to build instant likability.

Secondary Expression: Although we often prefer our characters to be happy, we don’t want them to be one dimensional. That’s boring–it makes the narrative seem predictable–and it also makes the characters feel less relatable (even when you or I are in a good mood, we tend not to walk around with a permanent grin. In reality, out facial expressions change constantly and that’s exactly what they do in this video.

For example, let’s return to the sailor and take a closer look at the gamut of expressions that run his face within seconds of meeting him:

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Subtle changes like these not only breathe life into our character, but they add a sense of action and excitement that further draw us into the story.

2. The Devil…and the Details: Speaking of characters, let’s return to the devil (who appears in the introductory credits) as does such a great job of setting the tone for this video.

As we mentioned at the top, “asset management” tends to be a rather dry topic. Some might even saying that sitting through an asset management presentation might seem like hell. Well, enter our animated devil. Within seconds, he implicitly demonstrates to the audience that this video will be clever, playful and entertaining…

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Not only does this opening successfully reconfigure our expectations and infuse us with a sense of excitement, but the filmmakers do an excellent job of setting parameters for the tone. This will be a fun and perhaps unconventional video, but it won’t extend that sentiment into silly or subversive. How do we know this? Because…

3. The Interplay between Narration and Animation: One of the very first things that our narrator (Joanna Lumley) does is scold the devil. Seven seconds into the video, she literally says, “Don’t get carried away.” and defuses our devil’s enthusiasm:

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This interplay between narrator and character is unusual for an explainer but worked to perfection in this video. A lot of the credit for that goes to Ms. Lumley’s whose performance should be a reminder to us all how important voice talent really is. But beyond her steely, sardonic touch, credit is also due to the writers for how they crafted the narrator’s role.

As the video moves along and buttons up a bit–presenting a more serious and sincere tone to accompany the financial wisdom–our narrator is used to invoke some comic relief to help pace us through the seven lessons.

Like the comment she makes between lessons four and five–“Oh hare, have you learned nothing?”–which energizes the audience as we segue to the next business insight.

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Creating a narrator who is both voice of reason and also comic relief; that’s no easy feat. But when done well, as demonstrated in The Seven Deadly Sins of Multi-Asset Investing, it pays off major dividends…

If you enjoyed this explain video, you may also enjoy these other animated videos that were amongst our favorite from the past week…

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The Marathon Diary Trailer (1:41)

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Wells Fargo “Transparency” (1:01)

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Ralph Plays D’Oh! (0:36)

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The Guillable Kiss of Mr. Patokos (5:11)

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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