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The 4 Strategic Types of Animation You Should Consider Before Starting Any Project

With the constant use of motion graphics in commercial animations, it’s easy to think that there’s just a single path when it comes to strategy, narrative, and the value of animated projects. The truth is that different goals and scenarios demand that you vary your approach to animation. Different outputs directly impact the audience expectations, the project’s scope, and the overall production demand.

By identifying the strategic outputs of your animation project early,  you give your project a much better chance to be successful. 

Let’s identify the different characteristics and impacts of potential animation outputs to guide you on how to determine the best product for your client’s needs.

How to think about each strategic animation output

After years of experience developing animation for clients worldwide, from small startups to Fortune 100 companies, we identified the most common outputs and demands when it comes to animated projects.

  • Advertising
  • Product Launches
  • Social Media Content
  • Education

Even though one can argue that, in the end, the final product will be an animated video, two ingredients are essential to separate those different styles of animation: 

  • Strategy: The tone of voice, messaging strategy, and the goals behind it
  • Scope: Complexity, duration and format expectations

Not only does the thinking process behind those different outputs change when going from one type of animation to another, but also the expected scope for each kind of animation changes. Some of them are traditionally short, while others benefit more from a longer format to guarantee a greater engagement and fixation of the message. The best way to understand their constraints and possibilities is to analyze them separately.

Advertising

Advertising is the heart of animation marketing. It involves creating animations focused on selling, promoting, or generating awareness about brands, products, and services. It’s one of the most direct approaches and it’s commonly followed by a call to action or a next step. The intention here is to invite customers to a brand’s story, preparing them to engage with their service or product. 

Animation for advertising can be straight to the point. It doesn’t need to be subjective and can be developed entirely around the product. It usually has the followings purposes and goals:

  • Generate interest in a product
  • Reinforce a company’s brand and its position in the market so it can generate new customers and fans.
  • Increasing and generating more sales
  • Increase the number of leads

This approach tends to generate immediate results. As advertising campaigns run for a limited time (for example a full month or quarter) it’s easier to track the campaign’s performance by looking at the company metrics in the given period.

Advertising animations are usually the shortest types of strategic outputs. When created for broadcast or for social media, they range between 15 to 30 seconds in duration. And within online distribution channels, this range can go from 6s to 60s. 

What determines the length of a video is how deep or superficial the campaign message needs to be. You can go deep showcasing the product and its features or be more inviting, trigger curiosity, and get viewers to search for the product. Also, the content consumption behavior of each medium allows a more extensive campaign (30 to 60s video or series) to be adapted into smaller pieces of content.

Even though these are usually short types of animation, they can be very demanding in terms of production. These projects require a well-elaborated script and narrative style, and those are usually followed by fast-paced or complex visuals. All of this to generate the biggest impact possible, in the shortest amount of time, grabbing the consumer’s attention and placing the brand or the product in their mind.

Product Launches

Alongside advertising, animation for product and service launches is very common for commercial animations. Many new services bring innovative approaches and new paradigms that aren’t clear enough for their potential customers. The script in those kinds of animations usually goes deeper into the positive impacts of the product in the viewer’s life, while clarifying the aspects of the product or service. Working the communication around key pain points while presenting the product features is a great way to convince viewers of its relevance.

A big part of what makes a product launch animation successful is finding the balance between introducing a new concept, explaining the product, and highlighting its benefits. It’s not an easy task, but working with the right partner will help you get everything in place so the narrative can be the best one possible.

Product launch animations tend to live on websites, especially on landing pages, so an important thing to focus on is your thumbnail and the first seconds of the animation. Good thumbnails invite viewers to hit play and learn more. And at the same time, the initial seconds — especially the first 5 seconds — are enough for viewers to decide if they want to keep watching it or not. Triggering curiosity and interest in your launch video’s first seconds is the most important feeling you want your audience to have if you expect them to watch the video until the end.

Product launch videos are usually built around the following goals:

  • Generating sales
  • Reducing friction for early adopters
  • Generating brand awareness
  • Increasing the sense of trust in a brand, product, or service.
  • Making it easier for customers to understand the product

The traditional duration of product launches videos is around 60 to 90 seconds. This has become a standard considering most are shown online and the viewers’ attention spans are short. Viewers tend to be very selective on how long they want to commit to a new video or content, so animations longer than 90 seconds can see a substantial dropoff. On the other hand, something shorter than 60 seconds may not allow enough time for all the necessary information to be presented.

It’s frequent to see this type of motion including characters because it helps to introduce a new concept in a more relatable approach. The level of abstraction of this kind of animation depends on the audience’s age and their previous knowledge of the product or its applications.

Social Media Content

Animation can quickly add leverage to the content game, making a brand unique and expanding its reach. One of its most significant benefits is helping turn customers into fans. Your content has to be recognizable, distinctive, and consistent. Animation crafted for social media content can check all those boxes. However, the biggest challenge in content creation is developing consistency, balancing quality, and fast delivery. Animation is not usually associated with speed, but a fast production can be attainable with the right strategy and a plan capable of streamlining development and guaranteeing video releases for different scenarios.

Animation as content can come in multiple sizes. From video graphics packages to short films, or even long YouTube videos. And since no one is only promoting content in a single media outlet today, it’s essential to diversify and aim at reaching your audience in the platforms they use. Innovative content is hard to find and people are hungry for something different. Animation as content creates a world of possibilities for companies, brands, and influencers, helping them expand their unique voice with a medium crafted around them.

Brands that produce content with animation are usually looking to:

  • Better engage their audience
  • Turn customers or followers into fans
  • Grow their social media channel
  • Increase their brand awareness
  • Develop a unique identity that differentiates them from their competitors

Due to the variety of possibilities of this kind of animation output, there’s no standard of how short or long a video should be. What helps you determine the proper output is the strategy behind the content being produced. A few questions that might help you are:

  • What is the primary platform used by the end client?
  • Which platform is this client trying to gain traction with?
  • What are the client’s other current platforms that would benefit from this same content or a variant of this content?

As an example, content can be made for YouTube(ranging from 3 to 10 minutes) and have Instagram as a supporting platform, with bite-sized pieces of that content adapted to feed posts and reels(currently limited to 60s max) or stories (currently limited to 15s max). This information gives you a baseline of what you should focus on first, and how this content can be extended to fit alternative versions. 

The same way that marketing on different social media requires a business to speak in different tones, it’s imperative that your animation adapts to the consumption behavior of the platform where it’s being released. A 5-minute piece of content naturally has a much better performance on YouTube than on Instagram. On the other hand, shorter videos can find more success on Instagram and TikTok.

Education

An excellent marketing and brand strategy is to use animation as an educational tool for your audience. It helps to establish you as a leader in your field. It helps customers connect better with your brand by framing the knowledge in a format that can be a differentiator in many industries. 

Brands that produce educational content are usually focused on:

  • The creation of instructional materials that bring value and improve brand awareness with their customers.
  • Focus on teaching as a way to establish brands as leaders in their market. 
  • Break down a complex topic or process into easy-to-understand content.
  • Engage viewers in the content and with the brand.

Educational animation pairs well with animation as social media content, as both can be used to promote a brand on social media. The most significant difference between those two is the purpose of the video.  If you’re creating the strategy for this educational animation, it’s less about the brand producing it and more about the video itself. In some cases, those educational videos are just used internally for businesses to educate their employees on their achievements or what they’ve been developing.

In all scenarios, the main objective tends to be the simplification of complex themes. Another great advantage of using animation for this strategic output is the engagement level. While not focused on a brand or product directly, educational videos can be built entirely around a brand to guarantee its recognition and customer engagement.

The animation for education videos is longer, ranging from 3 to upwards of 10 minutes in most cases. Animated videos for this purpose tend to have a pace that’s slower than other outputs as the focus here tends to be less on the visual impact and more on the ease of consumption and overall understanding of the content. 

The end goal determines the outcome

Depending on the final goal and placement of your video, one animation output might be better than the other. When it comes to defining the direction of a project, always start with the end goal in mind. 

Ask yourself these questions about your project:

  • Is this a short or long-term strategy?
  • What is my client looking to achieve?
  • Where do my client’s customers interact and consume content?
  • Where does my client’s message fit best?

For a lifestyle brand centered on being present in every moment of a customer’s life and looking to build a fanbase with an audience mainly on Instagram, a strategy focused on animation for content might be the best fit. But if that same lifestyle brand is looking to boost sales in the next quarter, an animated advertising campaign will be the best choice to fulfill this goal.

Animation is complex on many levels, not only when it comes to production but also the many ways it can contribute to a brand. Different animation languages need to be paired with their correct output to fulfill a brand’s goals

Having greater knowledge of those differences will help you make better strategic decisions, assist the animation team in understanding the complexity and scope needed for the project, and make your next client’s animation more successful.

Author avatar
Felippe Silveira
Co-founder & Creative Director at MOWE Studio