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7 Tips for Creating Animated Videos that Stand the Test of Time

Animation Delivered! The project went well, and the client is happy, so there’s nothing to worry about, right?

But, what happens when the product evolves, the spokesperson quits, or a visual trend shifts?

You may wonder what’s so important about making an animation timeless in the first place. After all, you’ll want to use it right away and might assume that your client’s marketing needs will change over time.

If your client’s project or goal isn’t time-bound to a specific event, why would anyone limit the impact of their work – not only for their client but also for them as professionals?

Long-lasting projects are seen by clients as long-term investments. If they know that the 100k they invested 2 years ago on a project still has value for them, why wouldn’t they want to do something bigger and better for 200k, that could be a reliable marketing asset for them to use for the next 3 to 5 years?

We generally condemn planned obsolescence on electronic products we buy, but we constantly overlook this on other typical things, like marketing videos.

Even though it seems intuitive, creating a project that can stand the passage of time is less common than we think, and it happens for different reasons.

1. Use animation instead of live-action

The simple choice of doing your campaign as an animation or a live-action is a first step that influences how timeless the project can be.

Animation is a more timeless medium because of its natural structure. In an animation, your story doesn’t need to happen in the “real world,” which means more freedom for specific abstractions and metaphors. It will help your message be delivered more clearly while keeping it future-proof. And instead of having to rely on actors or celebrities, which can be quite unpredictable, your characters will be unique and personalized for your business, as well as any other visual element of the video.

2. Develop something visually unique

One way of preventing a video from being outdated happens way back in the early stages of the project: The concept phase. While some professionals like to follow trends, we believe that projects should always evolve the existing branding of a business. Since a strong brand allows businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors, the focus should be on creating something unique for the brand rather than following a specific trend of a character design or a graphic technique.

3. Keep your script evergreen

There are two common issues that we see all the time in scripts – time-bound references and detailed descriptions of products or workflows. Staying aware of these two pitfalls will enable you to make tweaks to the script that will keep it from becoming outdated.

For example, instead of saying “last year,” use “in 2020.” And instead of saying, “You can search for products using both our map and list functions,” you could simply say, “You can use our comprehensive search tool to make your experience seamless.” In the second example, the difference in practice would be that the first version would require you to show either the map or the list (probably both). In contrast, the second version would allow you to display either the process or the outcome of that search, inside the phone or as a standalone floating interface.

By being less specific, your project opens up for more creative approaches, and the focus of the message prioritizes your product’s or service’s benefits over its features. This means that the way of doing something, like the search mentioned above, can change without interfering with the audience’s ultimate goal.

4. Be prepared for product redesigns

Digital Tools are some of the most common things represented in animation. Therefore, it’s essential to understand how they stand the test of time.

A redesign is always expected on a product – to fix a problem or just make it better than before. Because of that, they are a common aspect that makes videos outdated.

When it comes to SaaS and other digital products, UX strategists and designers are always looking for ways to upgrade their products and fix minor flaws in interfaces and workflows.

Whenever possible, avoid portraying an exact replica of an app’s design, focusing instead on a similar but more simplified style that allows people to understand the functionality without being restricted to a specific visual style.

There are many ways of doing that, and it depends a lot on how mature the business and the interface are. Assume we’re talking about startups, with new ideas and products that haven’t yet survived the trials of time. In that case, it’s possible to simplify the interface by removing some elements and making the rest of the elements more simple.

Suppose your explanation requires a user to interact with an app or is focused on the interface changing to represent a specific workflow inside the app. In that case, it’s possible to simplify many of the simple texts as lines or simple rectangular boxes, leaving just the critical information as text. This not only allows the viewer to follow your explanation more easily – because they have to deal with less information in front of them – but it makes the workflow itself more focused on the important actions for your client.

And if going technical and explaining all the details of the product isn’t the goal of the video, focusing on the capabilities or the outcomes of the product is the best way to prevent videos from being quickly outdated.

5. Allow for abstraction

As much as we instantly consider the script as the step responsible for the messaging of the video, it also has a ton of influence over the visual solutions for the project’s storyboard, illustration, and animation. A more literal script certainly limits, or at least makes it more difficult, for the creative team to develop more abstract solutions.

Taking into consideration the example above about product redesign. If your script focuses on capabilities or outcomes, the app’s interface might not even need to be shown. The animation could be focused on a character walking in an actual store, with tiny differences that connect it to the online environment, as an example of how intuitive your e-commerce solution is. Your script can still touch the same pain points for your users, but their overall experience will be way more immersive and impactful.

6. Use animated characters for consistency

They don’t have big egos, multiple projects to act on, or worldwide tours to make. They also aren’t the face of other brands, and they don’t get involved in scandals. Your characters are your own, and you have total freedom on how and when to use them.

Animated characters allow for consistency, so if you’re looking to create multiple ads in the future, working with animated characters will give you total control over their look and feel, and they’ll always be available for another spot.

On top of that, if your branding allows, you can reach for unique character designs, playing with their shapes, colors, and even non-humanoid characters. It will make your brand special and mor e inclusive.

7. Stay on Top of Cultural Trends

No matter the video you’re creating, it’s crucial to understand how its tone and message relate to the world we’re living in, not only at this specific moment but also in the near future.

Have you tried to watch a not-so-old comedy series and felt that some of the jokes hadn’t aged well? It wasn’t just the “limits of comedy” that changed in the last 5 years; there were also other structural changes to how society views specific topics. Mental health awareness and sustainability are way more relevant today, as well as the importance and the achievements of groups like the LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter movements.

Think about the worldwide cultural shock as a result of the pandemic in 2020. Significant changes like these usually result in societal changes that might impact us more than we initially expect. According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult, 57% of adults said an ad showing people shaking hands was inappropriate in light of coronavirus, while a similar share said the same of hugging (55%) and kissing (53%). And 70% said ads in which people are practicing social distancing are appropriate.

It’s impossible to predict the future, but it’s essential to have a trend-watching mentality, always on top of the latest cultural shifts happening worldwide. One crucial aspect of MOWE that has helped a lot with our awareness throughout the years is the multi-cultural team that we have – one of the advantages of the remote structure that we have implemented in our studio since day one.

Thinking about the future leads to better opportunities and results.

Creating future-proof videos opens many doors for both you and your clients. When clients start seeing the work as an investment rather than simply a marketing cost, it allows them to invest in more projects and take even more risks to differentiate themselves from the competition.

And that’s vital because to achieve something unique, you’ll need to take risks – and your client wants to have someone on their side who they know they could trust. This has always been one of MOWE’s propositions: We choose the projects we work on because we believe in them and care for them. All the inquiries and suggestions we make always have the client’s best interest in mind. If you want a better future for you, and for your client, delivering the best value possible on each project should be the norm.

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Raff Marques
Raff Marques
Co-founder & Creative Director at MOWE Studio

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