Over the last 5-10 years, many people have started to understand the real value of animation to their business. Along with video, it has become one of the most effective marketing tools for a business because of it’s ability to give viewers an understanding of your brand, product or service more effectively than having them read several paragraphs.
While animation is an effective tool when used correctly, a very common mistake people make is that they feel like as long as they get tons of information out to a viewer with some moving pictures, they’ve succeeded. Truth is, however, many people that use animation in their marketing are unsuccessful in reaching their goals or even reaching their audience. This could be for a number of reasons, but most likely it’s because one of the 3 elements to a successful animation is missing. Those 3 elements are strategy, story, and design & animation. All 3 are essential in creating an animation that makes a difference for your business.
Let’s start with the first step in any great creative product, the strategy. This is a research & discovery process to identify the who, when, why and how of the project. You’ll then use this information to formulate the basis of all future decisions to be made on the project. Think of the strategy like the foundation of a house. If it’s weak, you risk the house crumbling. It’s not usually seen, but it’s always felt.
If there isn’t a clear goal, it’s impossible to make decisions to reflect the desired result.
The first question we always ask is, what’s the purpose or goal of the project? If there isn’t a clear goal, it’s impossible to make decisions to reflect the desired result. This is the “why” of our strategy.
Then you must identify your target viewer. Animation is a communication tool for a business, but In order to successfully communicate, you need to know who you’re talking to. Otherwise, it’s a conversation with nobody on the other side. This is the “who” of our strategy.
Once you identify your target viewer, the next question is to figure out the best way to reach that person. Maybe it’s through a video on your website, maybe social media or maybe it’s through a 50-foot video ad in Times Square. That’s the “how” of the strategy.
When is the best time to launch this video? If you have a new product releasing soon, how much time before/during/after the release of the product must the animation be available in order for it to be effective. This is the “when” of the strategy.
For more info, check out our article titled Strategy in Animation.
While strategies are very complex, you can begin to formulate a basic strategy by answering the following questions.
What is the purpose and goal of the animation? (raise money, raise awareness, gain a new audience, etc…)
Who is the animation directed at? (age, sex, location, etc…)
What interests and values does your target person have? (conservation, sports, animals, etc…)
How can you best reach that person? (online, television, billboards, etc)
When is the best time to reach that person? (Lunchtime, a month before release, day of release, etc…)
The next step is to create your story. If the strategy is the foundation of a house, the story is like the walls.
While the story is a much more open process and there isn’t one single solution, it’s essential to start with the information gathered in the strategy.
Here are a few tips on developing a story for animation.
1 – Your target person must be the “hero” of the story, not your company. Your viewer is spending their time watching an animation because they want to be better at something, not because your new product has a cool feature. Your role in the story should be as the mentor or guide to the hero. How can you help them achieve what THEY want?
2 – The shorter, the better. People often ask, “what’s a good length for an animation?”. The answer is always, “as short as possible”. Sometimes you can tell a short story that matches the strategy perfectly in 15 seconds, sometimes it takes 15 min. One of my favorite examples of this is the Miller High Life commercials that aired during the
Superbowl “The Big Game” a few years back. They made a 1-second ad with a guy that just yells random things. “High Life!” and then it ends. They don’t get any shorter than that, but it’s extremely memorable and likely very effective.
3 – Inspire, motivate and empower. Do more than just give information, give your customers a reason to act. Make them feel something about your brand or product by encouraging them to be the person they desire to be.
Keep these tips in mind as you answer the questions below to develop your story.
What are the problems and conflicts your target person has, how can you help them?
Use the answer to the question above to start developing your story. Write about how your brand and viewer communicate with each other and the viewer’s transformation into the person they want to be. Be extremely descriptive about location, time and feelings, then edit irrelevant information afterward.
Design & Animation
Design and animation are the paint and decor of the house. You could certainly live in a house with just a foundation and walls but if you don’t fill it with the warmth of color and furniture it’s just a boring house nobody wants to spend their time in.
You should build from the strategy and story to effectively design and animate with a purpose. Taking all relevant information into account and relating values, themes or phrases to possible styles. Not all styles work for all brands so be careful.
You should also take into account any current brand specifications/requirements. That will tell you what can/can’t happen in the world created by your brand in your animation.
The video should come after the design, but it’s just as important. Great design that’s not animated well, makes for an unprofessional and ineffective marketing tool.
Here are a couple of questions to get you thinking about how your animation should look and feel.
What are some key ideas from the strategy and story you can translate visually? Think about keywords or a call to action specifically.
What styles will/won’t work with your brand? Make a list then select the options with the most meaning.
While creating an animation is a lengthy process, if you focus on these 3 elements, you’ll be able to start making a difference with animation in your business.