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Using animations in digital marketing to promote a business – Part 2

By Expert commentator 06 Jun, 2012
Video marketing

Tips to remember when creating an animated video for your business

In Part 1 I showed some benefits and examples of using animations for online marketing.

In Part 2, I will look at some tips to help make your animations effective for marketing. This is what I've found from the ones that worked well and not so well.

Tip #1 Remember - it’s not live action video. Be imaginative!

One of the benefits of using animation over live action video is you can create something engaging and high impact.You can make things happen that would be outside the realm of a typical corporate video production budget.

Many people approach an animation thinking they will need a main character who talks to the audience about the company in a setting consistent with what the business does. If you want to be this literal, you may as well hire a film crew to do a live action corporate video.Animation allows you to break through the boundaries of reality. Have fun with metaphors and symbolism.

The message you want to get across is key. Add some humour or strange situations; anything unusual that will entertain and connect with people so they’ll remember your video.

Tip #2 Share writing the script

If you’re struggling to think of a creative story line, or can’t envisage your animation, then consult your designer/animator - this is their job. They will digest your marketing literature and communication aims, work on understanding your business and target audience, then come up with some creative ideas for you.

Tip #3Avoid shoe horning technical information and sales literature into the script

Think of the animation as an entertaining and engaging sign post to further information. Try showing the script to people outside your organisation, collect feedback and adapt the animation accordingly. An approach I often use in scripts is to establish a problem at the start of the animation and then show the viewer how a particular business, company, product or service can solve this problem.

Tip #4 It’s not a power point presentation

Avoid the temptation to fill your animation with paragraphs of text (that's even a bad idea for Powerpoint too). Even if you animate it like the scrolling text Star Wars intro, this approach is still not recommended. You should aim to entertain your viewers with a pleasing mix of moving imagery and sound. Use text sparingly to highlight key points. Try to incorporate any text into the visual design of the animation.

Tip #5 Plan and prepare for production

It is difficult and costly to make changes to animations once they’re finished, so it’s important to plan and sign off each stage of pre-production. I would recommend your animator goes through each of the following stages with you:

  • Project brief
  • Script and treatment
  • Visual style concepts (how the animation will look)
  • Storyboards
  • Animation style test (So you can see the style of animation that will be used)
  • Revisions and feedback
  • Start animation production
  • Opportunity for revisions within the agreed storyboard


Tip #6 Animation has no boundaries (but it does have a budget)

If you want some 3D animation resembling Avatar, Shrek or any Pixar film, be prepared to pay a lot. If your animation involves lots of character animation and movement, again this has a cost.The animator Mike Milo explains the reasons for the varying cost of animation styles in his blog.

Remember it’s the communication that comes first - the impressive visual effects are there to enhance your message. Talk with your animator/designer about what is possible within the budget and timescale. You can easily create an effective, engaging and aesthetically pleasing animation with some creative thinking.

Tip #7 Branding your animation  

Consider what you want to communicate using imagery? What emotions and messages do you want to convey to your audience?
Do you want it follow existing brand guidelines or does the animator need to create something new?Not all animators work in a variety of styles or will design a style specific to your needs. Check their existing portfolio of work first to see what sort of styles they can do and if a particular style compliments your brand.

Tip #8 Do you need music, sound effects and/or a voice over?

Sometimes videos work without a voice over by relying on strong visuals and some punchy text. It may be tempting to cut costs by excluding music or using a royalty free sound track from a library.Bespoke music production and sound design is tailored specifically to your animation; it can be used to amplify the emotion and tone of the video at key moments and can help to set the pace.If your message is complex, you really should consider hiring a voice over artist; otherwise the animation may end up like a game of charades with the viewers trying to guess what it’s trying to say.Most animation production companies will include the cost of voice overs and sound production in the animation fee and project manage it for you. Just ask them at the beginning of the project because sound is best developed alongside the animation, rather than as an afterthought at the end.

Tip #9 Future proofing your animation  

Do you need to include dates and prices in your animation that might change in a years’ time? It is more difficult and costly to update a video than a website. If you mention any changes that might arise to your animator/ designer then you can work out a solution together.

I hope you find these tips useful - all the best for your future animations! To close, here are some more examples of my favourite animations.

Valentine's Day Google Doodle: humour and creativity

This animation is a lovely mix of humor and creativity. I think it is more an exercise in brand development than advertising and explaining Google’s services. I can’t help but watch it, feel my heart warm and think nice thoughts about Google. Google has quite a few equally charming and entertaining animations.

Pigs can't fly -- but good banks do exist: silent humour

This is an animation I made that needed to work without a voice over. It explains what the Charity Bank does while communicating the positive image of ethical banking. The flying pig is a little running joke in the video.

I Met the Walrus: unusual imagery

Director Josh Raskin and illustrators James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina collaborated to create an animated short film using an interview recording with John Lennon as the soundtrack. This isn’t an animation for business but the style and execution of this is so clever. It is a brilliant example of using unusual imagery to communicate instead of relying on characters in a traditional narrative and environment setting.

If you have any further questions or comments about using animation as part of your online marketing, feel free to contact me.

By Expert commentator

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