How to Use Animation to Increase Customer Engagement

Engagement. The word is used so often that it has started to lose its meaning. Do you remember the last time you were really engaged by a campaign? 

True engagement is a state of mind. Campaigns that achieve this will not only result in improved marketing metrics like “likes” and “shares” but also transform viewers into loyal customers. 

Animation builds emotional connections that other forms of media do not. It is memorable. It is relatable. It is accessible. For brands needing to deliver complex messages to their audiences, animation is a powerful marketing tool.

Why is Animation so Powerful?

Animation is often misunderstood by marketing and creative teams. It’s so much more than a type of video. Animation has one single power that outweighs common live-action approaches used on campaigns: it can create the impossible. Through animation, we can show the unseen, develop new worlds, and create powerful memories. Humans are attracted to movement. It’s natural. It’s instinctive.

A unique strength of animation is that it combines three potent ingredients: filmmaking techniques, illustration, and sound. Those qualities lead animation to become an effective brand awareness media. Video and sound walk side-by-side, and we can recognize their impact by analyzing companies investing heavily in marketing videos and podcasts.

Illustration has also proved to be extremely effective as a brand awareness tool, being easily recognizable while carrying the core aspects of brands to their customers. Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Dropbox, Mailchimp, Oscar, Headspace, Airbnb, and many others, have been using illustration as part of their messaging for some time now. Facebook, for example, developed in 2017  an illustration and animation guideline called Alegria. This move helped the company to communicate better with its huge user base. By embracing “Joy” (translation of Alegria), Facebook’s unique vibrant character’s colors made it easier for users to feel connected and represented in the platform. It has been implemented throughout the whole platform and it has become a memorable point of connection between users and the Facebook brand.

Alegria guideline from Facebook

Choosing Between Animation and Live-Action Video

Video continues to be the most effective way for brands to connect with customers. That story is in the data. 49% of people watch more than five videos per day. By 2022, more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be video.

As marketers, we can’t ignore video. But we must choose which style of video is most effective for our clients, and that often comes down to a choice between animation or live-action. 

While many live-action campaigns achieved great success, they usually rely heavily on actors. This can bring a lot of problems when those become attached to your brand content. Their image can become the brands’ image and any negative association with the personality can reflect directly on the brands with which they’re associated.

Animation videos don’t run that risk. 

The fusion of both hugely engaging worlds – illustration plus video – is animation, helping content to stand out in a crowded environment. 

Working with illustrated characters ultimately yields a more accessible video for your target market. Celebrities and actors have their distinctive physical appearance that resonates pretty well with part of the population but can exclude those who don’t see themselves in this person. As characters in animation can take every shape and form, it’s easier to create more inclusive campaigns, allowing a broader reach of the audience

Another big benefit of animation is the flexibility and control it provides. Brands leveraging this channel have full control over the look and feel of the characters that ultimately come to embody their message, allowing them to connect with more customers.

How Animation Creates Connection and Brand Loyalty

Companies, like the ones mentioned earlier, have recently implemented animation as their strategy to generate better engagement. Headspace is a great example of that. Now with 2 million active subscribers and more than 65 million downloads in total, the meditation and mindfulness app became the number one in the field. Through a simple style and cute animations, Headspace helped to make meditation approachable, and it’s one of the main reasons for their success.

The customer engagement experience of Headspace went beyond social media interaction – even with over 85 million views on their videos. It created an identity for the brand and turned customers into true fans of the platform.

Using an effective media format (video) and distinctive visual appeal (branded illustrations), animation gives brands the freedom to create stories the way their customers need to receive them.

Delivering Your Message Through Animation

Even though people have been calling themselves “Storytellers” for a long time, storytelling is not a cliché but a really important technique. Animation is all about storytelling. It brings stories to life through movement and sound in ways that deeply connect with people.

Human characters aren’t the only tool at your disposal when using animation to tell a story. Graphic elements and texts are just a few examples that leverage storytelling in animation. In the end, animation and motion rely heavily on metaphors to make messages more engaging to their audiences

In animation transitions, an element can change its shape and form, connecting distinctive scenes in a story. It can be made with precise cuts(like in live-action) or through morphing elements. The latter allows room for mystery and expectation. Without knowing how and when something is going to change, becoming something new, it generates curiosity that leads viewers to keep watching it. Powerful motion pieces and campaigns are usually associated with powerful transitions.

Those are some unique ways animation has to stand out in the crowded marketplace. They are easy to spot. They are interesting. They are memorable – perhaps more than live-action.

Conclusion

Just as customers expect marketing to do more than just sell to them, they expect more from brands than just a product. They want to feel connected with them in order to take the next step. Engaging customers is about being able to establish those connections. Not only the message you want to send but the way you send it is extremely important. Animation brings campaigns to the next level by combining two incredibly powerful media types: illustration and video. But more than that, it has unique ways to stand out in the crowded marketing environment we all live and has the power to tell stories like no other media can.

Author avatar
Felippe Silveira

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