“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” states the third, and probably most famous, of Arthur C Clarke’s Three Laws.
Technology and magic have always enjoyed a close relationship. It was this marriage which resulted in the advent of cinema itself. Film pioneers such as Georges Méliès began by using film and animation to wow and entertain the public.
Fast forward to the internet era, and technology is still being used to wow and entertain the public. Brands like Skype and Dropbox were some of the first to aim their game-changing new products to a consumer market.
How did they do it? By using the magic of animation to demonstrate the invisible hard-to-grasp processes that make our everyday lives easier.
This type of animated “explainer” video has become one of the most ubiquitous types of online video.
But as the market matures, the most innovative technology brands are evolving the way they are using video online. Now, many are modelling they way they use video around the marketing funnel, an approach championed by CRM providers like HubSpot and Marketo.
Let’s take a look at the most interesting ways that tech brands are moving beyond the animated explainer video. And in the process, we’ll see the benefits that animation can bring to your business.
Delighting With Characters
We’ve discussed in the past the benefits that characters can bring to your brand, and often many of the best animated videos make great use of character design.
Headspace have established themselves in recent years as the frontrunner in the competitive category of mindfulness apps. A key factor in that success is without doubt the brand’s commitment to high-quality animation. Their beautifully crafted films entertain while introducing users to the difficult-to-grasp concepts behind meditation.
In this example, Headspace uses wonderful character animation supplied by London-based Wearecaptive. They’ve focused on using the monkey to delight the viewer. But the piece also effectively illustrates how meditation can help to train the overactive mind.
Telling a Historical story
Another of the biggest benefits to using animation is when telling a story that’s set in the past. When you’re recalling a story from history, it is cheaper and easier to set the scene with animation.
Spotify have a strong video presence online, but their approach has shifted notably over the years. In the early days, the company used video when announcing new product features or big launches in new territories. And as the platform matured, they used video channels increasingly, to showcase original content featuring high profile music artists.
These days, Spotify are becoming more ambitious, exploring some of the social and political issues that resonate with their young liberal audience.Working with fantastic animation studio Giant Ant, Spotify created a series of animated shorts to celebrate pride month. The series highlights milestones in the LGBTQ movement, such as this piece about the silence around AIDS in the 1980s.
Telling a Futuristic Story
Just as it can be expensive to tell a historical story using live action video, the same applies (to an even greater extent) with stories that are set in the future.
Lyft is another brand with a changing approach to the way they use video channels. From initial straightforward announcements about the service, the brand moved towards more eclectic content, celebrating the culture of ride sharing.
When Lyft told the story of the company in 2017, they wanted to push their vision of how ride sharing could look just around the corner. For a way to illustrate this near-future scenario, it made perfect sense to turn to animation.
Illustrating Abstract Concepts
The best technology brands use video for various reasons, but the classic “explainer” is still one of the most popular.
Masters of data insights Kissmetrics, (like many of the brands here), began life using video channels for basic product demos. In recent years the strategy has matured, and the brand has seen good engagement in their popular “how-to” video blogs – a great example of using video for the “consideration” phase of the marketing funnel.
Yet, sometimes a brand just needs a more broadly themed explainer video, to raise awareness of the product.
Kissmetrics collaborated with Florida-based Digital Brew on this very simple but effective execution. Using simple geometric shapes that have a feeling of real weight, the animation represents the complicated array of metrics that the product utilises to provide valuable insight.
Using Style to Stand Out
The simple style of animation used by Kissmetrics, above, is beautiful in its simplicity. But when a brand can afford it, high-end animation is the best way to really get noticed among the crowd.
Like many large brands, Linkedin follow the Hero, Hub, Hygiene model. Among the everyday budget content, there is the occasional expensive, highly shareable short – designed to provide the “wow” factor.
This beautifully made CG piece, from Seattle based State of Secrecy, is the result. Like the Kissmetrics example, simple geometry and realistic physics are put to work to illustrate a non-visual subject. However, this time the brilliantly executed photoreal textures give the video a high end finish.
Quality like this is one of the factors that raises the price of animation, but when a video gets this much attention, the investment is justified.
A good video strategy is about getting the mix right. We can make videos to inspire, some made to solve problems, and some just to make you go “whut!?”
Mailchimp are a great example of a brand who are willing to take risks with their brand, to challenge the way they are perceived, and to get their customers to be passionate about email (not the most thrilling of products).
In typical style, the brand excited and delighted their fanbase in this promotional giveaway, a collaboration with internet culture podcast Reply All. In random episodes, the podcast announced the limited edition opportunity to get a free vinyl edition of Mailchimp’s ape mascot Freddie.
As part of the giveaway, Mailchimp worked with South Carolina based design studio Fuzzco, to make a truly bizarre series of animated stop motion shorts featuring the vinyl Freddies. Quite bonkers, but very beautiful all the same.
Are you ready to explore the different ways that animation can help you connect with your audience?
Read more about how to make your next video hit the target.
Then get in touch with Stampede to discuss how we can make it happen.