From the layout of your website to the exact dimensions of a billboard to your employee’s shirt colour, branding decisions encompass almost every aspect of a business. More than ever we’re ‘meeting’ a brand in the virtual world long before ever stepping foot in a physical store. So when we talk about how to effectively represent a brand, it’s especially important to look at how a first (and lasting) impression is made through the brand’s online presence.
Statistically, conversion rates and visit times to company websites are increased significantly when the front page focusses on sharable, visual content. Video content is proven to extend the amount of time a visitor stays on a website by 2 minutes and increase the number of converting customers by a whopping 64 percent.
So given all the different media available, what’s the best way to take advantage of visual content across your brand’s website and social media platforms? While each medium has its own advantages, today we’ll be taking a look at one of the most sharable and visually distinctive forms, animation, and some the different ways we can utilise it through a visual brand campaign.
If you’ve somehow stumbled upon this blog without knowing what an explainer video is, take a minute to go explore the Explanimate website and familiarise yourself with the kinds of video content there.
As a quick summary, explainers are short, informative videos used to help explain the purpose of a brand/product/idea in an easily digestible way. They often use straightforward voice overs combined with motion graphics, a clean vector style of animation.
While the major purpose of an explainer video is clear (literally to explain), there are also a number of hidden benefits to having one on the front page of your website or as part of your social media posts. Firstly, an explainer video allows you to control how your brand is initially viewed by the public, as you’re having the first say in exactly how/why your products and services should be used in the clearest way possible.
Secondly, a well-structured explainer video placed prominently on a website or social media page should aim to inspire a viewer’s curiosity about the brand. Now that they understand what you’re offering and how your service works, lead them naturally to the next call of action: whether it’s downloading a free trial, following your social media page or signing up for a special offer. From the simplified knowledge it offers, an explainer animation generates natural curiosity and promotes further interest in your online presence loop.
2. Animated commercials
If explainers are the instruction manual of your brand, then commercials are the bestselling storybooks. An animated TVC or online commercial is the way to set a mood for your audience using narrative, atmosphere, emotion and expectation.
Using animation for a commercial allows for a comprehensive integration of your brand’s colours and design scheme. These design choices are relatively easy to incorporate into each aspect of the commercial (character design, background design, location, props) in comparison to live action video.
Given the wide range of mediums and visual styles available under the broad banner of ‘animation’, you also have relative control over the evoked associations a viewer will have. Simply through the choice of line style and texture, an animation can be made to look like a children’s nursery rhyme or a gritty mystery graphic novel. These associations can then be used to set up (or subvert) certain expectations of your brand’s ideals, cementing a go-to image of your company in the minds of your audience.
If you’ve ever seen any kind of advertising for CompareTheMarket.com, it’s extremely likely you can name the type of animal that hosts the ads. You probably know his grammatically incorrect catchphrase. Heck, as I say this you might even start mentally reciting this sentence in the exact broken-Russian accent we know from the commercials.
But how does something as irrelevant to our lives as a burgundy-robe-wearing meerkat get so burnt into our brains every time we think of a particular brand? It’s because, as many of us know by now, the personality of a character-driven campaign is far easier for an audience to recall than a faceless corporation. Simples.
But there are also several specific advantages to choosing an animated character to represent your brand in a campaign. Developing an animated character is cheaper than hiring a celebrity actor: most especially because cartoon actors don’t ask for royalties. This means the character image is reusable as an identifying ‘mascot’ for your company, reflecting your brand’s personality and serving as a highly recognisable icon associated with your products and services.
Animated characters are almost infinitely flexible in terms of initial design. This means brands can design their character to represent their ideal customer base. Profile your typical client, then use those visual cues to help shape the design into a character your audience will relate to. Ultra-identifiable brand characters often become trademarks, further cementing their place in cultural history.
A quality animated logo can be a fantastic investment for a brand looking to establish their visual image in the eyes of consumers. While static logos are a necessity for physical media like business cards and flyers, animated logos are ideal for use across a brand’s video content and online presence.
An active logo is a must for keeping a consistent visual flow in any branded video content. And the particular chosen movement of an animated logo adds a new dimension to the psychology of your stylistic choices. The illusion of forward momentum presents a progressive, cutting-edge image of your brand, while a steady rotation suggests dependability, co-operation and regeneration.
While some social media sites like Facebook and Twitter don’t accept motion content for headers or avatars, other more visually-focussed sites such as Tumblr do. Using a minimalistic version of your animated logo as a subtle, looping GIF header for your brand’s page works as an eye-catching tool to set your brand apart from other competitors.
There are many more ways to take advantage of animation as a tool to promote your brand online. One of the rising creative trends is branded web series content, which curbs consumer’s growing skepticism of advertising content by providing serial creative entertainment, helping to grow a consistent audience community who then associate the brand with sponsoring the quality content.
It’s the versatile and eye-catching nature of animation that makes these widely varying approaches to branding not only possible, but affordable and a worthwhile investment in a brand’s long-term image.
Written by Maree Railton.