On Animation
April 20, 2016

How to advertise a startup through animation

What exactly is a startup? Everyone and their mother seems to have their own definition. Some define it as a new business designed for rapid growth, others consider technological innovation as key in identifying a startup, while others believe it describes the opening phases of what may become a larger company.

Whatever your definition, it’s fair to agree that startup companies come in many different forms. Lacking any best practice rules, it can be difficult to know how to advertise such an immeasurable type of business, let alone what type of advertising medium will work best. However, there are a few common features that most startups share when compared with other types of businesses.

Today we’re taking a look at four common startup features and determining how well animated advertising holds up against them.

1. your startup is new to consumers

By definition, startups explore new business models, new product development, or new ways of offering a service. In short, it’s likely that no one knows who you are or what you do. And until you explain yourself, they’re unlikely to care.

We know by now that corporate buzz words and technical jargon are as engaging to the everyday consumer as an invisible speck of dust, and that a clear, concise description of what a company can do for the consumer is much more effective.

In recent years explainer videos have come into vogue for this reason. Explainers work on the concept of relaying practical explanations in an easy-to-digest way. As they often come in at under 2 minutes, they’re attractive to rapid-consuming viewers who will make up their minds about a company in 30 seconds or less.

In line with keeping things clear and focussed, motion graphics animation is often the go-to medium for explainers due to its streamlined look, its visual simplicity and its capacity for changes to be made.

Explainers act as an overview of your startup, piquing potential customers interests in taking the next step. Whatever that call to action might be, a good explainer video should make it clear to viewers that not only does your startup offer something useful and necessary to their lives, but that your service is readily available to be engaged with from the get-go.

2. your startup is faceless to consumers

People need to know who you are through the mood of the advertising: your branding, your style, even your colour scheme. The major task at this stage of the game is to help them connect with your business on a personal level, and create strong associations between your startup and your chosen public image.

Is your startup aiming to project a quirky image with a strong authorial voice? Or are you a clean-cut company with a focus on pure practical use? Once you’ve nailed a couple of key words that describe how your startup ideally should be perceived, it becomes easier to bring your concept to a corporate animation house who can then guide you on how to develop these ideas visually.

Things like pacing, colour scheme and shape theory can all mould our perceptions in subconscious ways, and a good production house will understand the importance of unifying these visual features to help steer viewers toward your company’s ideal image. Animation works particularly well in integrating these features as there are very few limits on what can be achieved visually, whether it’s a rectangular character design signifying the strength and dependability of your company, or ingraining your startup’s colour scheme into every visual aspect of the ad through an analogous colour palette.

3. your startup is evolving

In the search for a high-growth business model many startups need to try different paths to discover what’s going to work best. And once an effective model is found the rapid growth of the startup can cause many changes in the nature and image of the company. It’s for both these reasons that a fledgling startup needs to be advertised in a medium which is flexible enough to grow with your business.

Short online video content works well here because not only is it more effective in holding viewers attention than long content, it also allows an emerging business to test the waters with their ad content before embarking on a larger campaign. This allows for changes in subsequent edits which would be harder to institute with bigger projects.

Iterative changes like these also demand the use of a progressively adaptable medium. While live action film can sometimes be fast to produce initially, animation is the more flexible medium because there’s no reliance on actor, crew and location schedules. Minor tweaks, the kind needed if you want to A/B test a few versions of the video, are far easier to institute in an existing digital animation than in a live action video which has to be re-organised, set up the same as the first time, and re-shot.

4. your startup is technology-oriented

People need to be able to find out about a new startup company, and that means getting the word out there through the many different technological platforms on offer.

As a naturally technological medium, animation is adaptable to multiple dimensions and ratios, as well as standing out on smaller platforms due to the bright and simplified nature of the design. Animated marketing campaigns, dynamic logos and stylistic motifs can be reused, repurposed, repackaged or tweaked and redesigned until you have the perfect layout for each advertising platform.

If you plan on targeting one specific platform over all others, it’s still wise to optimise your content (especially video content) for maximum share-ability. Even if you don’t intend on posting at all on particular platforms, this doesn’t mean your customers won’t create word-of-mouth for you through their preferred technologies. Being prepared with an adaptable advertising medium like animation avoids missing out on these kinds of cross-platform viral opportunities.


It’s a difficult task to decide how to go about advertising any given business, let alone one with such a rapidly changing nature as a startup. In the early stages you may be working with a shoestring budget and need to be particularly careful about where you place your advertising dollars. While animation inevitably won’t be the best choice for everyone, analysing the unique features of your business is the first step in finding a compatible mode of advertising. Delve deeper into what makes your startup unique and discover what types of marketing will best speak to your potential customers.

Written by
Maree Railton

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