We’ve talked about the power of visual content before, and how it can add value to your content marketing.
But this time, let’s take a deep dive and explore just how versatile animation can be, and take a look at the different ways brands have harnessed its potential.
When you think of “animation”, what do you think of? Some people may easily assume that animation is only for cute, fun, or even children’s content, but that’s not always the case.
In fact, there is a whole range of animation styles and types out there. 2D and 3D animation, motion graphics, stop motion… brands and advertisers have a wide variety of styles to choose from and find the one that best suits their needs.
Here are some ways brands have used animation in their content marketing.
Perhaps one of animation’s greatest strengths is its amazing storytelling capabilities. People remember stories, and when you create an animated video with a touching story, people will remember your brand.
For example, Petco’s short holiday film “Holiday Wishes” tells a touching story of a little boy who adopts a three-legged dog from a shelter, and disassembles his dream bike in order to make a prosthetic leg for the dog.
Even though the film doesn’t directly advertise Petco’s products, it definitely tugs at the heartstrings of pet lovers around the world, and has since gained more than 8 million views on YouTube.
Animated stories that empathise with your customers’ wants and needs can also humanise your brand in the eyes of your customers and improve customer sentiments.
Makoto Shinkai, director of the famous animated movie Your Name, also created an animated short film, “Crossroads” as an advertisement for a Zkai, a Japanese prep school institution.
The advertisement follows two students who come from completely different backgrounds but are eventually able to attend their dream school thanks to Zkai and its educational resources. Who would’ve thought that a brand video for an educational academy could be so evocative and visually stunning?
When it comes to introducing new products or services, animated explainers can do this in an interesting and visually dynamic way.
This is especially useful for brands in more technical industries, such as IT companies or banks. Trying to promote a new banking service may sound incredibly boring, but animations can reinvigorate the video while simplifying complex procedures for the public to understand easily.
For instance, look at this animated explainer we created for ST Engineering to drive top-level awareness for their latest cloud management platform.
The bright colours and dynamic animations not only make the video more visually pleasing, but they also serve to illustrate the platform’s functions in a creative manner. You can learn more about this project from our case study here.
Like we mentioned in our data storytelling article, the use of visual elements in animation makes it much easier for viewers to understand data and concepts. In fact, visuals can actually improve learning by up to 400% and help users process information faster.
Animations and visual elements can break up the monotony of a lengthy explanation or complicated data, and will also be more effective in capturing and retaining your audience’s attention.
Using a simple “doodle-like” animation style, Stanford Medicine created an animated explainer to illustrate how COVID-19 spreads.
Despite having no voiceover narration, the use of colour to symbolise the spread of the virus makes it easy to understand and visualise. The video even has moments of humour that bring some life into such a serious topic.
Why limit yourself? Sometimes unique animation styles can be used to reinforce the message of your video.
For DHL’s superhero-themed staff event, we created an opening video that cast the DHL leaders as superheroes dedicated to serving their customers.
To match the superhero theme, it only made sense for us to use an American comic caricature style to really depict the DHL leaders as superheroes. For an added touch, we even used some famous lines from superhero comics.
We’ve all heard the phrase “show, don’t tell”, and Hendricks’ Gin did exactly that. In their commercial “A Moving Picture”, the brand used an eccentric, Monty Python-inspired animation style to demonstrate their brand values and motto.
Furthermore, with no coherent narrative, the video truly embodies their brand motto — “open your mind and embrace the peculiar”.
This is just an example of how, with such a diverse range of animation styles and types out there, brands can find the perfect style to represent what they stand for.
Unlike live-action, animation simply isn’t subject to the limitations of reality. There are scenes and concepts that would either be impossible or too expensive to shoot as a live-action, but are completely within the realm of possibility with animation.
It would be impossible, for example, for a business to film a commercial that features an entire cast of animals as office workers. But thanks to the power of animation, Slack was able to create their commercial “Animals!”
Using a mix of live-action and 3D animation, the commercial features animals of all kinds — lions, beavers, and even a prawn — to show how Slack can bring different individuals together to work as a team.
There has been much excitement and development over virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, and how they can be used together with animation.
For example, the Wonderland AR phone application by Live Animations allows characters from their Alice in Wonderland picture book to come to life and interact with the reader, just by downloading the app and pointing the camera at the page.
The growing popularity of virtual YouTubers (or Vtubers) is something to look out for as well. What started out as a niche hobby in Japan has now spread all over the world, and is slowly coming into content marketing as well.
Earlier this year, Malaysian airline AirAsia announced its plans to launch a virtual creator to represent ASEAN as part of its programme, project Kavvaii. While they are still on the hunt for content creation, this is a sign that more brands may leverage the Vtuber hype to boost their marketing.
As technology continues to advance, and AI becomes more involved in content creation, animation and animated content will undoubtedly take on newer and more interactive forms as well.
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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.