Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: Introducing the Reddit Mobile App (Motion Graphics)

Blake Harris 04.13.2016

As businesses grow, particularly those in the social and tech spaces, they often reach a point where it makes sense for them to create their very own mobile app. Well, it makes sense to them. But it might not always make sense to their customers and users. Or, at the least, it’s unfamiliar and potentially daunting to those who have grown accustomed to interacting with that business/service in a different capacity. As a result, it can be quite challenging for brands to introduce mobile apps. That’s why we were particularly impressed by a cool, crafty explainer video entitled Introducing the Reddit Mobile App, which we’ve selected as our PICK OF THE WEEK.

Introducing the Reddit Mobile App was created by Identity Visuals, an award-winning, Nashville-based animation studio. Identity Visuals was founded in 2012 by Samuel Cowden and Zac Dixon with a vision to “create beautiful videos for design-conscious brands.” In addition to working with an impressive roster of clients (such as CBS and Google), Identity Visuals also produces original content like their short film SOLUS

With Introducing the Reddit Mobile App, Identity Visuals faced a unique challenge in creating something special for the 14th most visited website in the US. To help us better understand the animation studio’s endeavor, below are a couple of the client’s objectives:

  • Artistically, they wanted something that matched their brand guidelines, but carried them a step further in complexity and style.
  • Their newly revamped brand guidelines did away with all black lines and favored large color blocks with white or colored accents.

Now, without further ado, here’s the explainer video that was created:

  • Client: Reddit
  • Direction: Identity Visuals
  • Creative Director: Zac Dixon
  • Executive Producer: Samuel Cowden
  • Writer: Reddit Creative Team
  • Animation: Willie Russell, Zac Dixon
  • Illustration: Justyna Stasik
  • Reddit Producer: Taylor Humphreys
  • Producer: Austin Harrison

3 Things We Loved About This Motion Graphics Animation:

1. On Brand, Beyond Brand: In light of this video’s creative mandate (to match brand guidelines, but also go beyond), it would be hard to begin any list of things we liked without praising the successful completion of that objective. So the question is: how’d they do it?

It begins with a bit of courage. The easier and safer route would have been to start with something instantly familiar (like, say, the Reddit mascot or their “r/” prefix) and branch out fro there. But this explainer actually begins with a few shots that bear no psychological correlation to Reddit at all:

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From there, we move slowly towards the mobile universe…

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and then, at the 6-second mark, iconic up/down arrows appear…

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…and it’s not until the 16-second mark where Reddit’s mascot makes a cameo:

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The beauty of opting for this outside-in approach is that if a the viewer doesn’t recognize those arrows (or even the mascot) they won’t feel left out. Or, put another way, the enjoyment of this video’s opening relies on the audio and motion graphics; as opposed to relying on the viewer’s familiarity with the product or brand. This is a great way to evoke freshness and provide a launching pad for viewers of varying backgrounds to enter this fun, digital world.

2. Conveying a Sense of Immersion: One of the best things about Reddit is how immersive it is. Between the content and the community, one can happily get sucked in for hours. Conveying that internal pull can be hard to translate into animation, but it’s one that Identity Visuals was able to translate through composition.

For the first 18 seconds of Introducing the Reddit Mobile App, there is a white, blank-looking background. This space feels even more blank after the 10-second mark as only the middle-third of the frame is being used:

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And then suddenly, with a burst, we push into a vibrant turquoise illustration and become immersed in a new view.

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It’s a view from which we’ll pull out and back into again several more times throughout the video. And each time we do (though especially that first time) it mimics the sensation of clicking on a thread and starting to unravel a tiny new world.

3. The Transition from Animation to Actualization: The first 80%+ of this motion graphics explainer video depicts nothing but animated graphics. But then we transition from an animated look at this app to an actual view of how the content will be presented:

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And guess what? By the time we see this (at 1:04), the aesthetic feels so familiar that the transitional is natural. So natural, in fact, that it makes me want to pull out my phone, download the app and start fishing around for other fun things. AKA: mission 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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