Whiteboard animation was a good start, but you can find higher quality in custom animation

Unless you’re an alien crash-landed on Earth or a babe in arms, you’ll know YouTube. And while feasting on that video smorgasbord, you’ve probably sampled quite a few whiteboard animation videos. They can show you all kinds of things such as how to make a killer PowerPoint presentation, how to get the best price for your home, how crowdfunding works or which insurance product you should consider buying.

Whiteboard animation videos of this kind have been around for about a decade and have had a profound impact on marketing. You may have noticed that a vast majority of explainer videos (as we have come to call them) revolve around the product or service of a particular company. And you might also have noticed that most of the new ones you come across are even more eye-catching and engrossing. That’s because many of them now incorporate color throughout, photos, character animation and sometimes even live action bits. It’s as if you’re watching an animation with a very specific purpose: to make it clear how a product or service works and help you decide if it’s the one you need.

Video is the new marketing black

whiteboard animation

Let’s get one thing straight: using video in marketing campaigns is no longer optional. OK, let me correct that: it IS optional but nothing short of folly. This is the Age of the Internet. Everything moves at lightning speed and we have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. Oh, and people would rather watch your product and service in action than read about it. I’m not saying people don’t read. I’m saying they’d rather not read marketing materials when technology has advanced to the point where everything can be presented visually.

The aim of every advertising campaign is to get people buying. Not convinced that video helps? How about this: even back in 2012, 92% of shoppers cited visuals as the most influential factor in making purchase decisions. And according to Cisco, videos will account for 82% of global consumer internet traffic by 2020. Here’s another argument in favor of using video: nearly half of internet users look for product- or service-related videos before embarking on their shopping journey.

From simplicity to sophistication

whiteboard animation

When whiteboard animation videos emerged, they made a huge splash. Audiences immediately embraced this fun approach to explaining complex concepts, processes, designs and features. It was no longer necessary to go through pages of text filled with lengthy explanations and esoteric lingo. The hand drawing on the whiteboard and the voice narration made things easy to grasp, and we quickly got the point.

It was only natural that explainer videos would get better. Why stick with monochrome when you can add color? Why not liven up the presentation with a photo or two thrown in? What if we take it to a whole new level and use animated characters?

The evolution of explainer videos makes me think of what happened in cinema. First we had silent movies. People were in awe because they had never seen anything like it. Stories unfolded before their eyes through a combination of moving images, title cards, and music. Then came the talkies and, after some initial resistance, people fell in love with the cinema all over again. We saw the same thing when color came to the movies. Some may argue that black and white productions are superior in terms of artistic expression. Still, people love their movies in color, and the whole point of making one is to tell a story audiences will want to see.

We owe a debt of gratitude to whiteboard animation

whiteboard animation

As can be expected, technological progress has driven explainer videos to the next level. But those early whiteboard animation pieces are a critical link in the evolution of marketing. They brought together written text, sound, and pictures to create a short-form visual aid that made it easy for people to get the point.

That said, business organizations have different agendas. Yes, they want to educate consumers but mostly because they aim to convert them into buyers. Explainer videos for marketing purposes follow somewhat different rules. They have to make it clear what a product or service does, but they also have to do it as engagingly as possible within a very limited timeframe. Barring live action videos, which are typically beyond the means of most companies, custom animation is the best way to achieve these goals. It’s like whiteboard animation on steroids, if you will.

Why go with custom animation?

Custom animation explainer videos are essentially high quality pieces tailor made to fit a company’s brand / DNA, making it perfect for crafting a powerful story. Everybody loves well-made animation and a good story (who doesn’t love Pixar?). Unless the production company you hire makes an almighty mess of it + lacks high production value, you can’t go wrong with an animated marketing video. Here are several ways in which custom animation beats the whiteboard variety:

  • Differentiation: custom animation allows you to pick the characters and have them engage in a dialogue that would best present your brand and convey your message. You don’t get interaction among several characters with whiteboard animation videos.
  • Visual impact: custom animation videos are bright, colorful and lively. They please the eye with your own brand design and thus manage to hold the viewer’s attention. As most marketers keep telling us, this is half the battle won.
  • The golden mean for start-ups and small companies: whiteboard animation videos are relatively cheap to produce, which makes them attractive in certain cases. However, their simplicity and look can be limiting. Live action explainer videos, on the other hand, can show everything in great details. But they can be very expensive and typically work best for television / cinema. With custom animation, you get the best of both worlds: a highly enjoyable video that delivers an immediate impact without breaking the bank. Also, it’s the perfect medium for today’s internet-of-things society.

Explainer videos are great marketing tools regardless of the style you choose. They grab the attention of viewers and impart the necessary information in an easily digestible way. The result is a happy audience that is far more likely to join your customer base or spread your message, be it through word of mouth or social media. But if you want to deliver a truly memorable video and maximize your ROI, you can’t go wrong with custom animation (as long as it’s properly done, of course).

So tell us now, have you ever used explainer videos in your marketing campaign(s)? If so, we’d love to hear what style you went with, what determined your choice and how it worked for you.