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Using marketing animation to amplify your communications

Screenshot of a three-brains advert in development in Adobe Animate

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Why read this? : We look at how marketing animation can help you communicate better with customers. Learn the 3 areas where it’s most often used, and how you go about creating it. Read this for ideas on using marketing animation to amplify your communications. 

Video content can play an important role in all parts of the brand choice funnel.

From creating awareness and consideration with advertising and social media videos, to showcasing your products in e-Commerce and keeping customers loyal with engaging content. 

There’s 2 main ways brands create video content.

First, the do-it-yourself approach. For example, those shaky and short social media videos which show the “real” side of your brand.

Two cameramen and a sandman posing on a lawn in front of some trees

But usually, you want videos to be more professional looking, e.g. for advertising campaigns. So you hire a team of video-making experts to do it for you. 

You trade off cost and quality with these options. 

DIY videos are cheap to make. But they can look amateurish and may lack impact. 

Professionally made videos will be higher impact. But, they can be expensive to produce. Costs soon add up. You need actors, a director, camera and sound people, plus a scriptwriter / creative team to create the idea, and an editor to put it all together. Then you’ve also got the cost of finding locations, hiring equipment and paying for usage rights. 

Fine for big brands. But smaller brands on a budget might start to hyperventilate at the cost. However, there’s another option which sits somewhere between the two in terms of quality and cost. 

Marketing animation - a balance of quality and cost

Marketing animation is an alternative video option where you can usually create something more polished looking than a DIY video. It’s usually cheaper than a film shoot with real people, as long as you don’t make the animation too long or complicated.

Animations work as a series of illustrated frames which run next to each other very fast. Usually at 30 frames per second, though it can be more.

Each frame has to be created and adjusted so that when the frames run next to each other in real time, they give the appearance of movement and animation. 

The better quality you want to make the marketing animation, the longer it’ll take and the more it’ll cost. More frames and more complex content takes longer and costs more. Most marketing animation would be 6-30 seconds for advertising, and no more than a few minutes for anything else.

Another benefit is that you control and own the assets in the animation. There’s no actors to manage. No usage and repeat fees to pay. You use your brand assets, so you can use them as and when you like. Plus, it’s also relatively easy to edit animations if your message or information changes, You just edit the relevant frames rather than having to reshoot new footage. 

It’s also worth noting though, you’ll have to factor in a cost for any sound you want to add. A voiceover or music, for example. Again, you can do this yourself or hire professionals. You can also find royalty free music online (e.g. on You Tube’s Studio area) if you just need something simple to play in the background. 

When you might use marketing animation

There’s 3 marketing communication areas where marketing animation is most commonly used :-

Advertising campaigns on a budget

When you want a video advertising campaign, but don’t have the budget for a full video with cast and crew, animation is a good way to maximise the budget you do have. 

A full-blown filmed production can easily run to $150k-$250k (or more) per day of filming.

An animated video of the same length would cost far less. You can find freelancers on Fiverr. who’ll create something simple for you for less than $1k.

Or you can even learn the basics of animation and do it yourself. Even if you use your agency and they propose a slicker, more involved animation for your advert, it shouldn’t cost you as much as filming an advert with real people would. 

For example, the 15 second advert for Three-Brains you can see above was made in-house and took about 3 days start to finish. A day for planning and storyboarding, and 2 days to produce the visuals and animations and edit it together. The only cost was our time spent on making it. More on this at the end of the article.  

Explainer “how to” videos on your website

Marketing animation is also often used is to create video content for websites. In particular, to create visuals which help explain “how to” do something. Marketing animation can bring subjects to life in a way that text alone can’t. 

For example, our design principles guide talks about the importance of repetition for usability on a website. But this is a very visual concept. It’s easier to explain if you can “show” this in action.

The short marketing animation video above was originally created in Keynote as a “build” presentation. But by turning that animated build into a video, it can now run on its own without a presenter. This makes it easier to convey the 3 points about repetition it’s trying to make.

Attention-grabbing content for PR

Finally, marketing animation is often used alongside newsworthy PR activities. For example, launching a new product or running an event. 

You can animate the details of the “news” so you have more eye-catching online content to use, particularly for social media.

Moving video content captures more attention than text announcements or static images. And attention is usually what you want for news activities. 

Inside a concept hall, lots of confetti flying in air, with audience reaching out their hands towards it

So marketing animation helps you grab this attention without needing to splash out on creating something more expensive.

Doing your own marketing animation

If you’re doing your own marketing animation and haven’t done it before, you’ll need to work out a plan.

Standard presentation software like Powerpoint and Keynote will have some very basic animation functions e.g. creating a video of a build / reveal of text and images on a page as in this simple example.

But if your needs are beyond that, you’ll need some sort of animation software like Adobe Animate.

You’ll also need an illustration tool like Adobe Illustrator to create the graphics to go into your animation. 

There’s many online videos taking you through how to use these tools. But be prepared to take at least a couple of days to get your head around the basics before you can start creating even simple animations.  Animation takes time and patience to get right. Anything beyond very simple animation won’t be easy to do. 

So, it’s only worth doing marketing animation on your own if you’ve already got some experience in how it works, or your needs are going to be relatively simple e.g. moving text or simple shape-based illustrations. 

It’s also worth familiarising yourself with the basic principles of animation such as Disney’s well-known 12 basic principles of animatio

These classic principles created way back in 1931 add vibrancy and believability to the movement and animation of your designs. Principles like squash and stretch and anticipation make animation feel more realistic and engaging for viewers. 

Working with a marketing animation team

In most cases though, you’d work with an animator or agency team to do the work. They’ll have the software, and the experience and expertise to produce something of much higher quality than you can do yourself. 

You’d write them a brief sharing details of your brand identity and your marketing and business objectives.

You’d cover your target audience, what you want the marketing animation video to do, and what budget and timings are attached to the project. 

Marketing Communication brief - blank template

You’ll also need to include technical specifications for where and when the video is going to be used. For example :- 

  • which websites it’ll run on.
  • how long it should last.
  • if you need different length versions.
  • what dimensions it should run e.g. 720×576, 1280×720,1920×1080. 
  • the required video output formats e.g. .mp4, .mov, ,wmv, .avi.

You’ll also need to supply any relevant brand assets that are going to be used. For example, your logo and brand colour palette. Plus, you’ll need someone to write the copy for the animation, either a separate copywriter or one from the agency. You’ll need to give them your tone of voice guidelines so the copy works for your brand.

Marketing animation idea proposal

The animator or animator team should review your brief and respond with an initial idea on how to make it work.

This’ll involve a first draft script and storyboard, so you can see how the animation will work. 

You should review this to make sure it :- 

Three-brains Unpause campaign first draft storyboard

Once the animators have taken your creative feedback on board, they’ll want you to approve the script and storyboard before they start producing the animation. Most of the hard work comes once they start drawing and animating frames. Making changes once the animation is created isn’t impossible, but does add time and cost to the process. Much faster and cheaper to agree the story up front.

Adobe Animate example - Three-Brains advert

To give you an idea of how a marketing animation can work, we’ve gone back to the notes we made creating this Market Leader advert back in 2020. 

The goal was to create something to appear on our social media and our website. We spent a day writing a script and a storyboard to create a 15 second advert. Our objective was to drive awareness of Three-Brains by creating a distinctive visual without spending lots of money on production. 

We already had some of the brand assets (e.g. the logo) created, but had to create others in Adobe Illustrator first e.g. the man and the ball, the brain and the thought cloud, and the heart design. 

Animation notes

In terms of complexity, the man and the ball is the most complex animation as the man has to appear to push against the ball and then fall. And the ball has to roll away. 

The brain thinking and the heart pounding were simpler to do as there’s less movement. The brain frames are just a reveal of a new image (the thought bubble). And the heart pounding is just increasing and decreasing the size of the heart image. (relatively easy to do in Animate). 

The animation is mostly based on using what’s called “tween” animations. You define the start point and end point for an object which has to move. Then, you use Animate to fill in the frames in-between the start and end point. So for example, the ball moves from its start point to end point. 

There’s also a selection of the 5 basic text animations of moving, scaling, fading, rotation and masking as we put this together.  

We ended up with a 15 second animated video which still appears on our home page and which lands a key message for us in a distinctive and engaging way.

Conclusion - Marketing animation

If you’re the sort of person who likes to get hands-on with creative and communications, marketing animation’s an interesting area to get into. 

Moving images generally create more impact than static ones. You can play around with basic build videos in Powerpoint or Keynote to get a feel for the difference movement makes. 

For more advanced animation you’ll need to get hold of a tool like Adobe Animate. It comes as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud license. 

Screenshot of a three-brains advert in development in Adobe Animate

Like most Adobe tools there’s a steep early learning curve. But, once you get your head around it, it’s not that hard to produce something of decent quality. 

However, there’s a big step up in skill needed if you want to produce something more sophisticated. The Three-Brains example we showed here was deliberately simple as we’d only just started learning the tool when we made it. If you work with a professional animation team, you’ll get something of much higher quality, but you’ll obviously pay more for it. 

Using marketing animation (or not) usually boils down to what you’re trying to do, and how you trade off quality and cost on video content. Animation sits somewhere between the extremes of doing it yourself (cheap and low quality) or hiring professionals (expensive and high quality). But get it right, and it can be a great way to animate the way you communicate with your customers. 

Check out our video content for marketing guide for more on using video. Or get in touch to find out more about how you can use marketing animation to deliver your marketing objectives.

Photo credits

Film crew : Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Confetti : Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

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