Now more than ever it’s crucial to show some sincerity in your brand. 2020 has been a weird year to say the least, and the effect it’s had on consumer habits is undeniable. Between pandemics, protests, and threats of recession, people’s buying habits are changing rapidly and in over one-third of cases for the long term (https://www.reach3insights.com/online-grocery-shopping-covid-19).

Gaining audience trust is a tough sell in such uncertain times, however the consistent go-to advice is to ground your marketing in customer empathy. This means not only understanding the humanity of your customers, but also being sincere and clear enough that your customers can see the humanity in your brand. If you’re unsure how to go about showing your brand’s human side, animated explainer videos are a compelling way to present new and changing branded content.

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1) Animation adds a face to the faceless

When we as consumers have a difficult time connecting with brands, especially large corporations, we tend to describe these brands as ‘faceless’. We see the brand as this autonomous system – a ‘thing’ without emotion or meaning – rather than the joint efforts of the humans behind that brand. This can often occur with businesses whose only online presence is a text-heavy website. But attaching a relatable face to your content has immediate effects on our ability to connect and trust with the brand. This doesn’t have to be the same face or even a real-life face – simply recognising a character having eyes is enough for us as humans to start turning on our trust signals. This facial connection is why so many animated explainer videos are character-based – while pictorial graphics have their place in helping simplify and memorise complex ideas, expressive animated characters help us identify more empathetically (and therefore more vividly and memorably) with new personas, concepts, and services.

2) Explainers speak to the viewer in a human way

One of the quickest de-humanisers of brand marketing is corporate jargon. Forcing business buzzwords into content where it doesn’t belong shows a lack of desire to talk to the consumer on a human level, and reveals your interactions with them are all business and no heart. Thankfully explainer videos, by and large, manage to avoid this pitfall by being build on a foundation of everyday language. Good explainers have only a couple of minutes at most to relay the core message, so content must be to-the-point and easily understandable. This kind of down to earth language goes hand in hand with being a transparent and trustworthy brand run by real humans, who aren’t afraid to openly explain the brand’s processes, products, or ethos (for more on the art of being transparent with your brand, check out our article of the same name: https://www.explanimate.com.au/the-art-of-being-transparent-with-your-brand/).

3) Explainers provide valuable information that connects with the viewer

Have you ever received a phishing email for a bank you don’t even use? Or a spam voicemail in a language you don’t even speak? There’s no bigger red flag to a consumer than a fake sense of personal understanding. That’s why it’s especially important to prove you understand your audience’s needs by providing them with genuinely valuable content. When combined with research and knowledge of your target audience’s interests, explainer videos become an incredible tool for relaying information in a condensed, memorable, and sharable way. Aim to connect with the viewer by providing well-packaged valuable information, similar to the way we might look up to a great mentor or teacher who has just the right way of explaining something we want to master.

4) Animation is art, and art is innately human

There’s something both inherently innocent and ingenious about good animation. It provides us a primal connection with pleasing shape and colour combinations – a connection many of us form as babies discovering nature, then as children watching cartoons. It then combines this primal connection with a civilised appreciation of a well-crafted art form – animation is never incidental: somebody thought up and then crafted every thing you see on screen. This appreciation of visual art is quite possibly hard-wired into us as humans: this New York neuroscience study shows the brain’s activation in the emotional and evaluative areas when subjects were observing artworks which they personally found to be “beautiful, compelling, or powerful” (https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/humans-evolved-to-love-art-324091). Different subjects were aesthetically inspired by different artworks for different reasons, indicating that art gives a subjective yet truly universal human response.

5) Build relationships with a series of videos

Part of humanising your brand is simply being present in a meaningful way. For many brands, this means having a real and consistent presence on social media and elsewhere online. Explainer videos provide excellent content to connect with your followers because of their eye catching visuals, bite sized length, and potential for serialisation. As we discovered in our last article, the explainer trend first kicked off with UPS’s very popular series of short whiteboard videos  (https://www.explanimate.com.au/the-unique-origins-of-the-animated-explainer-video/). Each one briefly described a different service UPS offered, but more importantly each video gave the viewer another chance to connect with the relaxed narrator, the engaging illustrations, and the efficient ethos these videos, and thereby the brand, embodied.

6) Animated explainers are versatile to mould to the true “soul” of your brand

Animation is a particularly handy medium to work with when creating branded video content because, stylistically speaking, it’s endlessly versatile. There are no limits when it comes to locations (yes, you can set your explainer video on the moon if you want), characters (yes, your explainer can feature a talking dog if you want), or realism (yes, your talking moon dog can do a triple backflip through the air while sipping on some fine scotch whiskey without spilling a drop… if you want).

What does all this mean for your brand? It means that capturing the heart and soul of your brand on the screen isn’t limited by the logistics of filming. Everything down to colour choice and line style can be crafted with your brand’s image in mind, making it easier to paint the image that will best connect with your audience.

Written by Maree Railton.