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5 Explainer Video Animation Styles to Engage & Evoke Desired Emotions!

Mar 23, 2020 10:32:39 AM

Do you want to make a great animated explainer video? One that you would place at par with your favorites.

Amongst many factors that come together to make such a video, there is one factor that ensures that your video is a great one. Storytelling!

You might be thinking that we over-glorify storytelling but truth be told, the videos that actually motivate the viewers to perform some action tell a story. It is this story that empowers your video to engage and connect with the target audience.

Now, you might be thinking that I’m referring to writing the perfect video script. However, storytelling doesn’t end at the script.

Visual storytelling is just as important. And that is where the animation style of your video plays a key role.

Right Explainer Video Animation Style Can Empower Your Business Story!

Let's start with the question that helped humans evolve over the ages - "why"

Why bother choosing the right style for your videos?

What would happen if you pick the wrong one?

Answering the second question first - a lot of things. You have a story, a great one. One that you would want the entire world to know.

As great as your story is, if you don't tell it the right way, you aren't going to have the impact your story deserves.

You left no stone unturned in making the story great. Why compromise on its impact by going about telling it in any way but the right one.

By choosing the right style, you ensure that people consume your story the way it is supposed to be consumed.

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No superhero story was ever told without characters.

Likewise, the story of the big bang can't be told with characters.

So let’s talk about what animation style is.

Simply put, it is the visual style of the video. Since the intention is to tell a story with the help of visuals, every element in the video must complement each other. Different styles have different elements that play a major role in storytelling. While not exclusive, these elements have the lion’s share of screen time in specific styles.

Now that you know the importance of these styles, how do you choose the right animation style to make the best explainer videos?

Animated Videos: Aiming for Maximum ROI

Now, while animated videos pack plenty of benefits, the goal is to maximize those benefits. After all, why settle for two when you can get ten? This is why it’s important to be careful and strategic about the kind of video animation styles you choose, length of the video, CTA, distribution channels, and various other aspects.

The examples of animated brand stories can give you seed ideas but, in the end, it’s you who has to steer the boat ride in the right direction based on your exact needs, requirements, budget, and goals.

In that context, here are five tips to create animated videos that bring to your business maximum ROI:

Define your goals

Everyone is now trying different animation styles. More marketers and brands are joining the animation bandwagon. But that alone isn’t a good reason why you should too.

Just because others in your industry are producing animation videos doesn’t mean you have to do it as well. They may have defined goals and objectives… you don’t. Not yet!

So, as a first step, define your goals. Why are you planning to invest in animated videos? What are you looking to achieve?

Having a clear understanding of your goals will also help you identify the KPIs to track your success.

Focus on buyer personas

Once you know what you want to achieve, time now to find out how you can achieve that.

This is where having a buyer persona will come to your aid.

Alongside goals, your buyer persona will help outline the video marketing strategy. What kind of people are you targeting? What’s their interest? What are their pain points? At what stage of the marketing funnel they are on?

Make sure your buyer personas guide the kind of animated video that gets made for your brand and products.

Provide stories and not a sales pitch

Here’s a simple fact: People don’t like being sold something. They, however, like stories and getting help.

You must keep that in mind when creating your animated videos. Avoid sounding salesy or making sales pitches with your animated videos. Even when you’re making product videos, the focus should be on the solution the product delivers and not exactly on its features.

Animated videos are great at telling stories. That’s one of their key powers! Tap on this power. Tell stories with your animation, which will subsequently boost your brand’s identity, engagement, and recall value.

Hire the right animation company

This is the most important part of this whole process. Your animated video needs to be great to outstand competitors and make an impact. And this is only possible when you have a good animation company by your side.

So, take your time to find and hire the right video production company that specializes in animation videos. Make sure they have extensive experience, especially of working with businesses like yours.

A good animation company will support your video marketing strategy, paving you to greater ROI.

Test and test some more

Experimenting is the backbone of growth and better outcome.

Remember, your first few animated videos might not work as expected. You may not see the kind of metrics you were hoping for.

Similarly, even if the video did great in returns, you shouldn’t settle for it.

You must consistently test, track, analyze, improve, and test some more. The more you test the more opportunities you will discover to scale with your animated videos.

So, try different informational and explainer video styles. Try different distribution channels. Test more.

Your Animated Explainer Video Has Already Decided Its Style

Just like wearing a suit to a pool party, and swimming trunks to the office isn’t a good idea, using just any random style for your video is a bad idea.

I’m all for experimenting, but every video has a style that is perfect for telling its story. It is upon you to listen to your video’s calling and pick the right one.

This takes us to a very important question: what are the options available?

Well, there are a lot of options, but we’ve narrowed them down to give you the ones that work best for businesses. So let’s get started with them:

Cartoon Style for Emotional Explainer Video Animation

Ever seen explainer videos with cartoon characters and their experiences explaining the functions and features of the product/service?

These videos are called cartoon explainer videos and are the prime choice when you want to tell an emotional story.

Since the audience can see themselves in the characters shown in the video, they connect with it immediately, which helps build trust.

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B2C companies, especially those with brand mascots, prefer going for this style since it is easy to connect with and can make even serious subjects easily palatable. However, the use of this style is not limited to B2C brands.

B2B companies have seen great results with this style as well since it helps in humanizing your brand. Moreover, you can exploit the power of humor better with this style than any other style.

Some of the industries in which we’ve seen this style work best are BFSI, Healthcare, Retail, and Non-profit.

Here are some great examples:

Cartoon Explainer Video Taking Testimonial Approach

If you have been running a business for several years, you would know how complicated it gets with taxes. When the three characters talk about their issues with taxes, you connect with them instantly.

You can put yourself in the shoes of the characters. This makes you want to know how the characters got out of the problematic situation which presses you to watch the rest of the video. While you didn’t realize it, you were emotionally connected to the characters throughout the video.

Such is the power of cartoon animation videos.

Cartoon Explainer Video Showing The Hero's Journey

If you’re a middle-aged woman watching this video, you connect with the video right from the moment the character says, “I lead a busy life. I’m a wife with kids and a career and I still want my body to look and feel its best”

Why do you connect with the video? Because you can relate to the character and her desire. This makes you want to find out what the character intends to do to fulfil that desire so that you can implement the same in your life.

This video demanded that the audience should emotionally connect with it, and hence the cartoon animation was used.

IMA CMA’s Cartoon Explainer Video

When the narrator says, “Are you considering joining the CMA program or are already enrolled? If so, you probably have some questions about the exam and certification process”, and you find yourself saying “yes”, the video has been successful in connecting with you emotionally.

You now want to know if—and how—the video is going to answer your questions. For that, you would definitely go ahead and watch the rest of the video.

It is because of the characters in the video that you connect better with the video since you can relate to them. You can see how the video demanded the use of character animation.

Infographic Style for Informational Explainer Video Animation

There are times when you need to present valuable information about your product/service to explain your product to the audience. In such cases, the focus is on the information and not on the emotions it generates in the audience.

For such videos, you need abstract shapes and objects that go with the company’s branding style to tell the story instead of animated characters.

This is where infographic explainer videos come in. This animation style is emotionally-neutral and is used where a minimalist approach is needed for storytelling.

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Most B2B companies prefer going for this style as it is exceptionally good at explaining products and services by disseminating information to the target audience. While it can be used by B2C companies as well, most of them avoid using it.

Some of the industries in which we’ve seen this style work best are IT, BFSI, and Professional Services.

Here are some great examples of infographic explainer videos:

McAfee’s Infographic Explainer Video

Since most businesses rely heavily on online resources, securing their network is important to them. When the narrator talks about protecting your online resources beyond the existing endpoint solutions, it grabs your attention since security breaches can be extremely costly for businesses of all sizes. You connect with it.

You would, of course, want your network to be as secure as possible and that motivates you to go ahead and watch the rest of the video.

This style is great for explaining complex information in a simple, minimalist fashion. As you can see, the video called for infographic animation to be used.

Hub International’s Infographic Explainer Video

You’ve probably heard of the famous data breach that Uber had the misfortune to deal with recently. If you’re a business owner, you would know how devastating it could be and would like to know the best way to deal with it. Before you know it, you’ve connected with the video.

To know what the right thing to do in this situation is and to protect your company from something similar to happen to it, you go ahead and watch the rest of the video.

Infographic animation was what the story called for, and was hence used.

RTS’ Infographic Explainer Video

If you use RTS’ services regularly to travel, and you see this video which starts with the text “How To Enjoy The Ride With RTS”, you would want to see what the video says since it is relevant to you. In other words, you connect with it.

When the video goes ahead, tip-by-tip, it engages you since the tips are very actionable and you can clearly see how it would actually make the ride more enjoyable for you as well as the others traveling with you.

Now, you might argue that since there are characters in the video, the style should be cartoon animation. While there are characters in the video, they are more or less cosmetic. The visual style of the video remains abstract and that makes it an infographic explainer video.

Live-Action Explainer Videos With Animated Overlay: The Best of Both Worlds Style

Sometimes it is imperative for you to use live-action images or footage in your video but you want to exploit the power of animation in it as well. In such cases, you would need an animated overlay to be placed on your video.

This where live-action explainer videos with animated overlay come in. We call this animation style mixed-media animation.

Mixed-media animation gives you the opportunity to work with different media and try out multiple combinations to come up with the perfect one for your video. It all comes down to what your story demands.

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Being an experimental style, both B2B and B2C companies can use it for unique visual storytelling. Since it is neither traditional animation nor traditional live-action, it stands out from the videos that are present online. This gives them an edge in terms of engagement.

Some of the industries in which we’ve seen this style work best are Non-Profit, IT, and Healthcare.

Here are some great examples of mixed-media explainer videos:

Factspread’s Mixed Media Explainer Video

Drugs have always been controversial with both sides putting up interesting arguments. But when the video starts with “the war on drugs costs our country billions of dollars every year” you know you’re hooked.

You connect with the video because you know that the problem is substantial and affects you regardless of whether you consume drugs or not. With the image of the dollar bill torn into a graph showing the rising costs on drugs, you get the full impact of how dire the situation is.

This is what mixed-media animation can do for you. It has a unique way of bringing a substantial impact to your explainer video.

Aspentech’s Mixed Media Explainer Video

If you own or run a refinery or a chemical plant, you know how difficult it is to manage it. So when the video starts with “managing a refinery or a chemical plant to increase efficiency requires a new way of thinking” you instantly connect with it.

You relate to what the video is saying and want to know what this “new way of thinking” is. Seeing the image of a refinery on screen further adds to relatability making the video even more engaging.

For the video to have maximum impact, the use of live-action images was imperative. As you can see, the video called for the style used.

Prime Child Care’s Mixed Media Explainer Video

If you run a childcare business, you know how much work you need to put in. So when the video says “when you run a childcare business, you have a million things to do every day”, you connect with it.

You relate to the video as you can see yourself as the subject of the video. As the video goes on, you can see how the visuals aid everything the narrator says. You can see how impactful it gets with those visuals.

For the right impact, the video had to use the chosen style.

Whiteboard Style for Educational Explainer Video Animation

Sometimes you have to explain complex concepts to the audience in a simple way. You need to educate them in such a way that they retain the information you passed on through the video.

In such cases, you need to go for whiteboard explainer videos. Physical whiteboards have historically proven great for education and the digitally produced videos carry the legacy quite well.


Since we narrate the illustrations on the screen, it is easy to follow through. This makes it easier to educate the audience about complex concepts without losing their interest anywhere in the video.

If your video is educational in nature, don’t think twice before going for whiteboard animation for visual storytelling.

Some of the industries in which we’ve seen this style work best are Non-profit, IT, Healthcare, and Professional Services.

Here are some great examples of whiteboard explainer videos:

CCH’s Whiteboard Explainer Video

If you run a non-profit, you know how complex the process gets. This makes it difficult for you to explain the process when you have to tell it. So when the video explains CCH’s process in a simple manner, you’re hooked. You connect with it.

The reason why you connect with it is that you can relate to it. You want to know how you can explain your non-profit’s process as plainly yet effectively as possible.

Once again, you can see that it was the video that decided how visual storytelling would go in the video.

Epicor’s Whiteboard Explainer Video

If you run a manufacturing company, you know how costly poor inventory management can be for business. When the video talks about how inventory management is done in a fictional company, you connect with it.

The reason why you connect with it is that you want to know how the fictional company manages to deal with the crisis situation so that you can implement the same with your company to increase efficiency or should a similar crisis arise.

Using whiteboard animation made it possible for the information to be disseminated in a simpler manner.

Clif Bar’s Whiteboard Explainer Video

Imagine you’ve just joined a company and they start with internal training. Sounds boring? Now watch this video that Clif Bar used for training new recruits in its sales team.

Found it simple and easy to follow through? That’s because whiteboard animation makes it easy for the audience to consume information. It’s a lot like holding your hand to guide you through a journey.

As you can see, all complexities were removed from the video with the help of whiteboard animation.

3D Explainer Videos: The Best Style for Physical Products

When you need videos for explaining how your physical products work, you have to go for 3D explainer videos.

Due to the extra dimension, you can play around with visual storytelling and come up with something that tells your story best. You can show how your product works externally as well as internally. You can even use this style for services such as plumbing or carpentry.

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This style is predominantly used by companies with physical products. However, a lot of IT and healthcare companies have also started using this style lately.

Some of the industries in which we’ve seen this style work best are Healthcare, Entertainment and Professional Services.

Here are some great examples of 3D explainer videos:

Breg’s 3D Explainer Video

If you’re suffering from osteoarthritis, you would know just how difficult it is to get knee braces that you feel comfortable in. But when the video starts listing out features, you feel like you’ve finally found the right knee braces.

You feel this way because you could relate to the video. You have a problem and you need a solution for it and this video promised you a solution.

The video demanded 3D animation to be used for it, and so it was used for the video.

IBM’s 3D Explainer Video

If you manage a supply chain, you know exactly how difficult it gets. Sometimes even a simple delay dominos into a full-blown catastrophe. When the narrator talks about how IBM helps make leaders and professionals more successful with the use of AI, you’re hooked.

Later, when the video shows a 3D spare part levitating in the air while explaining an issue, you relate further. You relate because it hits home. You relate because this product could be seen as one of the many products that you might have faced issues with.

The video demanded this very style to be used and so it was used.

SpineCal’s 3D Explainer Video

Let’s face it. Reproducing the full effect of medical procedures with videos is difficult. What’s even more difficult is when the medical procedure is internal.

But SpineCal bridges the gap beautifully with 3D animation. The video gives you a good spatial sense of the spine and of the disc replacement procedure.

Nothing fits as perfectly as 3D animation does on this video—which is why it was used.

Your Animated Explainer Video Has Already Decided Its Style, Now It’s Your Turn

As we’ve seen in the cases mentioned above, the video clearly defines the animation style. All you need to do now is to recognize the right style and go for it.

Remember the following to make the right choice:

  • When your explainer video calls for emotions, character animation is the way to go.
  • Infographic animation is best suited for disseminating information with little or no emotions.
  • Mixed-media animation is our choice when the video demands to have live-action footage or images.
  • When it comes to educating the audience or explaining complex concepts in a simple manner, nothing comes to whiteboard animation.
  • The features and functions of physical products are best explained with the help of 3D explainer videos.

If we missed something out, let us know in the comments below. Having trouble finding the right pick? Leave a comment and we’ll nudge you in the right direction!

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