The Animation Strategy Behind the Iluli Channel
Let’s talk about consistency and visual identity, optimizing time and budget, scaling up your campaigns, and how those things lead to a successful YouTube channel.
Iluli by Mike Lamb is a channel focused on making sense of the world around us, transforming complex topics into simple and engaging animations. Before we engaged in this project there was no YouTube channel, so we helped our client to build it from zero with those animations we’ve been developing across those years.
A lot of the work we did to help get there was basically on setting up the stage. Once we started putting out the contents, we could keep delivering every month. Their deliverables are much bigger than the normal 30 second ads and 90 seconds explainer videos or any other common format like those. To make that happen, to allow this to work, we had to put a good strategy behind our every month production and, of course, had our clients to trust us on making sure we could keep delivering great quality videos throughout the years as we’ve been doing so far.
A little bit of this strategy was related to the visual identity that we end up developing, but also with a lot of the production strategy that we put in place to have those videos coming up every month and with the quality that we were expecting since the beginning.
The first and most basic aspect of our strategy was to create a buffer. Instead of just doing a video and releasing them online and trying to catch up, we set four or five videos so we could start the production, understanding some of the issues that we would have along the way for the future videos, but also preparing a sustainable structure for an ongoing project of this magnitude.
We also developed a workflow that allowed us to always have multiple videos being produced at the same time, because we know that doing a five-minute video every month, from the beginning to the end, can be an herculean task. The pipeline we created has different videos in different stages at all times without impacting the quality of each delivery nor impacting other clients projects. This was one of the things that allowed us to have consistent videos since the beginning of the channel, even during the pandemic.
After almost one year doing the first set of videos, we identified possible improvements in our strategy as we already had a pretty good idea of what Iluli was. The scripts and the way of telling the stories, everything started to take shape and to have a unique vibe and a unique thing to it. So after that first year, we developed a new visual identity that related to the fun and humor kind of scripts that we have for the videos. A lot of those visual changes we implemented for the future videos were focused on optimizing the use of characters and assets. They allow us to make the videos faster and to automate some of the decisions for the future.
In the end, by creating not only the style, work pipeline and assets, we basically created something of a sandbox for Iluli. A structure that allowed us to, whenever we create a new video and whoever takes the lead in terms of the illustration and animation, to understand how things behave in the Iluli world.
At the same time, we see a nice progression in terms of quality in the videos, which is not usual when you have those long projects. Commonly you see a plateau or things even going down with time, but because we’ve set a foundation so good and we spent a lot of time making sure it was ready for us to start, you can see as the lastest videos are released, that the quality keeps getting better.
This strategy we developed allows us to focus on specific parts of the videos that can be elevated instead of trying to go back and recreate things as if we were working one video at a time. And the good thing about repurposing assets is that it’s not only something that optimizes the time for development, but also the budgets of the project. It allows for a lot of repurposing outside of the main animations. So besides speeding up our process, delivering everything always on date, we are also able to develop other deliverable formats without big changes in the workflow. Even though it’s the same style with many repurposed assets, this strategy allows us to always create something new and interesting for every new delivery.
By the time we did this content, the channel was about to hit 200,000 subscribers. And all those decisions we made and all of that strategy lead us to optimize the production, the timeframe and also the budget required to make such types of video. All of those also come together to lead us to achieve this success. The results are not only on the number of subscribers, but in the community engagement with every single video as well. One of our videos alone hit more than 15 million views and a lot of the comments you see around the channel are people just mentioning how the channel deserves to become a hit, how it’s so attention grabber. Part of this, as the very viewers say, it’s because of how the message is clear, and how the animations are well developed.
The strategy and the work dedicated to creating the Iluli world got the channel recognition from the creative industry alike. During the past few years we won a Telly Awards and also received nominations and honorary recognitions from the Webby Awards.
A lot of the videos from Iluli talk about actual books, business strategies, things that people have created, or sometimes the stories of impressive people. And a lot of those people that we use as a reference for the videos, they actually came to us to talk and kind of thank us for how we were able to simplify or explain something to their audience. Because of this, our videos became references for those audiences. So it’s really nice to see how the videos that we make for Iluli are not only aiming at the Iluli audience but they can easily grow and reach many other people.