Animated Video Production

5 Great Explainer Videos (And Why They Work)

Shawn Forno 02.23.2017

Are you thinking about making an explainer video, but don’t know where to start? Unsure if an explainer video is right for you? Not sure if you want to go the animated route or live action? Fear not.

explainer video

We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best explainer videos from the past few years, and unlike other “best of” online lists, we won’t just show you the video. We’re going to take a good look at each video and break down what they do well, why the videos work, and how the startup or company is using their explainer video. Looking at what works in each explainer video will help you tremendously when you’re choosing between hundreds of looks and choices when make your own explainer.

It doesn’t matter what your product is, or what your sales or marketing goals are—there’s an explainer video style that’s perfect for you. Let’s get started.

5 Great Explainer Videos

InLocus App: Motion Graphic Explainer for First Adopters

The smooth transitions from shape to shape and scene to scene in this explainer video go a long way sell the sleek functionality of the InLocus GPS App. The app is a first adopter style product (indoor GPS for stores and buildings), so the look and flow of the video has to match the tech savvy target viewer.

Motion graphics is a great style for tech startups thanks to the clean lines, warm characters, and ability to simulate the in-app experience with compelling visuals and icons.

What This Video Does Well:

  • Beautiful Transitions: The movement never stops
  • Great Art Design: Warm and welcoming—not too techy!
  • Perfect App Demo: The graphics make your phone the stage for the app to shine

Explainer Video Goal: Target first adopters and explain interior GPS functionality

Scandis: A Sleek Look for a Design-Centered Business

The animation of this explainer video is all about sleek design. Note there are no black outlines on any of the graphics or characters in the entire video. The open shapes and negative space in the background give the video a clean uncluttered look—much like that of a designer’s workspace or furniture showroom.

Scandis’ brand is about quality high end furniture at affordable prices—that’s what the video is all about. So the look and feel of the video—the clean background and character design, the tasteful color palette, and the subtle transitions between scenes all reinforce that commitment to quality.

What This Video Does Well:

  • Modern Art Direction: The look of every frame says “quality”
  • Brand Alignment: Even though the content of the video—wholesale distribution and supply chain logistic—isn’t the sexiest topic, the look of the furniture and characters is still alluring, modern, and sleek. The animation style is perfectly aligned with the brand and their target buyer.
  • Text Integration: The text animation in the beginning and end add to the look of the video. That’s not always the case with text heavy explainers

Explainer Video Goal: Convince buyers that Scandis is the most affordable high quality online furniture dealer.

Fostr: Character Design that Drives Adoption

Fostr’s video is simple, easy to understand, the perfect length, but the character design of “Bobby” is our favorite part. He’s just so damn happy! Watching this explainer video makes you want to download the app and knock a few of those stale projects of your bucket list. It’s an incredibly successful video.

What This Video Does Well:

  • Great Soundtrack: The music is upbeat, motivational, but not cloying
  • Perfect Length: 50 seconds quick and to the point
  • Complete Narrative Arc: Even though we only know “Bobby the wanna be writer,” for a few seconds, it’s nice when he becomes “Bobby,’ the author”

Explainer Video Goal: Drive downloads and installs for target users

Yellowbag: Brand Awareness and Clarity

There’s nothing like an explainer video that just explains what something does. Revolutionary, right? This explainer from Yellowbag manages to dive into the point of the app within eight seconds. Eight seconds. That’s fantastic.

Seriously, within the first 10 seconds of this great little explainer video, viewers learn that Yellowbag is an app where you can save all your favorite products from sites across the web in one convenient location. Even better, Yellowbag will alert you when the price drops. You can even set an alert for your ideal price. That’s a lot of helpful information in a super short amount of time.

This video is so direct and helpful, it makes me want to download the app just to try it out. And I don’t even do very much online shopping.

What This Video Does Well:

  • Simple Branded Color Palette: Yellow background. White Icons. Can’t get much clearer than that
  • Simple CTA: Download the app. Save money. Again, it’s right up the middle
  • Great Intro: This video is front-loaded with a simple, helpful explanation of how the app works and why you should use it. Nuff said.

Explainer Video Goal: Explain a startup app and drive downloads and adoption

Dropbox: The Explainer Video that Launched a Thousand Startups

Honestly, looking back at this explainer video from 2009, it’s hard to believe that Dropbox is one of the biggest name in cloud storage today. The video hasn’t aged well—the cutout “animations” are crude, the voiceover is hokey, and the subject matter is dry—but you’re forgetting one important thing.

This video worked. Really really really well.

When this explainer video launched in 2009, cloud software and synced folders weren’t the everyday terms we throw around today. It was a weird confusing idea for managers, companies, and everyday users. Dropbox had to explain the very complicated world of cloud computing before they could sell it. And sell it they did.

What This Video Does Well:

  • Explain a Complicated Concept: Cloud computing is super tough to understand
  • Identify Target Users: Dropbox nailed all the use cases for their service, making it easy to understand (and sell)
  • Great Script: This explainer video is all talk talk talk, and that’s ok. The script is focused and clear.

Today, Dropbox is one of the largest cloud software companies in the world. Sure, the video isn’t pretty, but who cares? It worked. Explainer videos are a great way to drive adoption, get users interested in your product, build the reach and power of your brand, or even *gasp* explain something complicated in a simple easy to understand way.

Explainer Videos Work

No matter how you use your explainer video, remember that it should always be targeted at your ideal user, and your chosen goal. Once you define that, your perfect explainer video is just around the corner.

Contact us for more information on how you can make a great explainer video for your company, or our other animated video services.

Shawn Forno

Shawn Forno is a massive Studio Ghibli fan who does content marketing. In that order. Find his other writing and extensive travel blogging here.

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