Animated Video Production

How to Choose the Style for Your Animated Explainer Video

Shawn 04.12.2017

 

An animated explainer video is one of the most effective ways to raise brand awareness, increase engagement, supercharge your SEO, and increase conversions. People just plain like animation, and explainer videos are getting more popular every year. However, there’s a lot more to animation than just cartoons—especially when it comes to your business.

To help you choose the best animation style for your explainer video, we’ve compiled this list of five popular animated explainer video styles with examples and a rundown of what each style does best. After reading this, hopefully you’ll be ready to pick the animation style that best suits your business and your video marketing goals.

Whiteboard Animated Explainer Video (“Scribe Videos”)

Whiteboard animation is by far the most popular style of animated explainer video, due in large part to the success of the RSA animated lecture series. Whiteboard videos are excellent at communicating dense or complicated information and technical jargon without bogging viewers down, so they work well for software startups. Dropbox practically launched their entire business with a simple whiteboard video, and healthcare and pharmaceutical companies routinely use whiteboard animation to explain new medications, surgical advancements, and patient portal information.

Whiteboard animation is also commonly used for long form educational videos (over 4 minutes). We typically recommend keeping your explainer videos under two minutes, but if you have a lot of information to cover, want to produce a series of videos, or have a speech or lecture to animate, whiteboard videos are the style for you. TEDTalks have embraced whiteboard videos and the “animation in real-time” style keeps viewers engaged longer than other style of animation.

Whiteboard Animation is Best for:

  • Tech Startups
  • Healthcare / Pharma
  • Longform Content
  • Education
  • Corporate Training Video Series

2D Animated Explainer Video (“Traditional Animation”)

When most people think of animation, they immediately picture 2D animation—also called traditional animation, or cell animation—which is great because traditional animation is amazing. 2D animation is immensely popular for its ability to create iconic, recognizable characters and engaging narratives, so 2D animation companies create this explainer video style with the broadest range and the most applications for business video.

Typically used for brand awareness, 2D animation is a great style for introducing a new product or even launching your startup. The hand drawn animation provides boat loads of appeal that viewers not only respond too, but remember fondly.

2D Animation is Best For:

  • Product launch
  • Startups
  • Brand awareness
  • Customer facing videos
  • Quick explainer videos (under 60 seconds)

3D Animated Explainer Video (CGI)

Pixar and Dreamworks are household names thanks to the incredible work they’ve done with 3D animation (also known as Computer-Generated Imagery, or CGI). 3D animations has rapidly become the most popular form of animation today, and software advancements ensure that it’ll be on the cutting edge of animation for decades to come.

3D animators use increasingly complex software and tools to create a virtual world with realistic objects, materials, and lighting, so 3D explainer videos are particularly well suited to product videos and high concept explainer videos. When it’s done well, viewers cease to notice the CGI and instead get swept up in the exceedingly rich and dimensional imagery.

3D animation is about illustrating features and ideas more than telling narrative stories, so make sure you understand your audience and marketing goals before you spend the time and money to create a 3D animated explainer video.

3D Animation is Best for:

  • Product videos
  • Startups
  • Software
  • Financial Services

Motion Graphics Animated Explainer Video

Motion graphics is the animation style that uses shapes and text to help bring stories and concepts to life. While it is ideal for showcasing stats and information, motion graphics also lets companies avoid character-led messaging that might not be right for their brand. Done well, even simple shapes—like circles and squares—can make compelling characters in motion graphics explainer videos.

Motion Graphics is Best for:

  • Startups
  • Software
  • Financial Services
  • Data Heavy Explainer Video

Stop Motion Animated Explainer Video

The nostalgic low-fi feel of stop-motion animation is impossible to duplicate with any other animation style. No matter the medium—puppet, clay, cut-out, graphic, object, or silhouette—stop-motion animation always manages to capture your imagination, making it ideal for brand awareness as opposed to information heavy explainer videos.

The only drawbacks to this beautiful animation style are the production hurdles. Stop motion is difficult to change on the spot, and production calendars can stretch for months for longer explainer videos. If you go with stop motion animation, be sure to commit to a script and an animatic before production begins.

Stop Motion Animation is Best for:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Social Shares
  • Entertainment

Choosing an Animated Explainer Video Style

 

Your choice of animation style says a lot about your brand and your message. Choose the style that works best for your video marketing goals—not the style that looks the coolest—and you’ll see immediate ROI in the form of traffic, conversions, and engagement. Make the animated video that you’d like to watch, and your viewers will love it.

Contact us today to see which style will work best for your business.

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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