The Problem With The Explainer Animation

Perhaps the fastest growing trend in the world of animation is the “explainer animation”. Essentially, these types of animations are created with the sole purpose of explaining a business’s product or service for users to understand in 2 min or less. By that definition, you may be thinking, “That’s exactly what I need”. In some cases, you may be right, but let’s dive into why a tool with that definition isn’t enough to make a real difference in your business.

People don’t care about your product.

One of the biggest problems of using the explainer animation, is that businesses often forget that people don’t care as much about their product as they do. So, they list off the specs, tell the description and maybe how to use the product with these short videos. Then they believe that by itself, it’s enough to inspire people to buy their product.

For thousands of years, people have been most influenced by stories. Stories of heroes defeating villains, stories of strong moral characters that persevere in difficult times and stories of faith or belief. These kinds of stories inspire people to be great. By nature, we respond to emotions, not product descriptions and specifications. Before you explain details, you should inspire them and show them how you can help.

Take a look at our article titled “Story is everything” for more information.

“Hi, this is [name], [name] is a [job title], blah blah blah.”

This is how many explainers start. The few that understand the above problem, often fall into this new problem. They understand that they need to relate to a person, but their solution doesn’t match their brand or message and often includes a goofy looking character named — Sam, Brian or some other extremely common name.

Many businesses think that because they see something often in advertising, it’s the most effective solution for everyone. When in fact, this has become an extremely overused technique viewers have become immune to. One of the most important elements for an animation to be successful, is that it has to be interesting. A not-so-funny script, with a goofy character, is not as interesting or as memorable as telling a story of people with real values and aspirations.

Please, no more whiteboard animations.

Another section on the boring-animation-trend wheel is the “whiteboard animation”. These are short animations just like the explainer, that describe a product or service in detail,  but instead of somewhat interesting graphics like the explainer, it’s mainly simple hand drawn stick figures and paragraphs of information being written on a white board — sped up by a minimum of 3x.

If you want to be seen as an industry leader that understands your customers, a whiteboard animation isn’t for you. Just like the explainer, it will EXPLAIN, but it won’t INSPIRE.

They’re mostly used incorrectly

In one case, the explainer animation is actually a perfect marketing tool. That’s when your customer is already interested in your product and is committed to buying.

An explainer animation shouldn’t be used on the front page of a website. You don’t want the first thing people look at on your site to be the product details and instructions. The average user spends less than 1 min on a website. If they click that video first and spend a min watching descriptions and specs, they’re going to leave. As we mentioned above, you have to explain why they should care before anything else.

Consumers have developed great bull-shit detectors that send loud alarms to run at the first site of someone selling to them. So don’t — instead, let them know you truly understand their troubles and have a solution to empower them to be great.

Sure, people may want to know the information listed in explainer videos, but the problem is that they’re being bombarded before they’ve even made the decision to know more. An animation that’s used on a homepage should be used to gain interest in a product, not necessarily to sell it in 2 min or less.

Instead of using an explainer video or a whiteboard animation, tell people an interesting story. Inspire them with passion and emotion. Most importantly, show them how they can be great with a little bit of your help.

Let us help you tell your story. Send us a message at info@zwelly.com and tell us about your business, product and goals.


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