Animation isn’t a new form or marketing but improvements in software, hardware and the emergence of the internet as a marketing medium has certainly seen its popularity explode. And yet animation is still grossly underused as a marketing tactic by many businesses that would greatly benefit from it.
But just why and how does animation differ from ‘live filming’ and what advantages does it hold over this more traditional form of video marketing? Well let’s start at the same place that every film production starts in and that’s the creative stage.
No Limit to your Imagination
Animation can be used to represent pretty much anything, with no limits on the scope and scale of what you want to use it to visualise. Even the laws of physics need not apply in animation, allowing you to create seamless transitions and long takes that phase from one environment to another. You can see this at play in Aspect’s film for the British Library, in which various visual imagery is transitioned in a unique style in harmony with a compelling narrator.
With no barriers to face or rule books to follow, the options animation opens up to you at the creative stage are only constrained by the technical skills and imagination of the video production company you are working with. With a good team of animators and creatives behind you though there really is no limit to what you can do.
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Total Control over Style and Tone
There are so many techniques that animation incorporates as a medium; each of which offers its own unique style, look and tone. Providing complete control over colour palettes, styles, tones and aesthetics can help convey all sorts of narratives and atmospherics. With so many small businesses stuck in what I like to call a ‘Tom and Jerry mindset’, the rich variety and huge potential of what animation has to offer is often overlooked.
The Australian Metro Trains campaign takes a different take on memorable characters by putting utilises humour, a bright colour palette, and catchy music to convey its message in an upbeat, but wholly unsubtle, way. The juxtaposition between the style and the fundamental message is unarguably captivating and wildly successful.
Visualising Complex Information or Metaphors
Animation’s ability to use imagery and metaphor allows you to communicate key messaging or information in bold and enlightening new ways. Paradoxically this gives animation the ability to better convey reality and complexity than live filmmaking. Whether it’s visualising and explaining complicated global networks or how medicines or treatments work on a microscopic scale, animation can bring a type of clarity that no other medium can get close to.
Quite often animation will serve as a visual aid or accompaniment to a narrative, helping to bring to life what is essentially a lot of information. This works especially well on informational or educational content such as explainer videos or charity fundraising films where context and exposition is fundamental to the messaging. You can see this in action in UNICEF’s Check out for Children video.
Creating Memorable Characters
Animation has the unique ability of being able to create memorable characters that endure. In fact, if we were to challenge you to write down five advertisements that immediately come to mind, it is likely that several on your list would contain an animated character.
Whether it’s Geico the Gecko or Alexsandr the Meerkat, the potential animated characters have to create brand recognition for an industry as dry as insurance, couldn’t be clearer. By creating brand mascots with unique personalities and characteristics, animation allows companies to effectively embody serious brand personality through a distinctive and often non-human character.
Whilst there are many examples of this being done with human actors, there’s something instantly more memorable about a Tiger selling breakfast cereal or a half-eaten Peperami ‘animal’ chasing you down the street.
Considerations when Planning an Animated Film
On first considering animation as a medium, you should consider the options available to you. This can be daunting at first, but if you have developed a clear brand strategy, then finding the medium that suits shouldn’t be too taxing.
Below are some considerations that you will need to think about.
The style of animation you choose must always reflect your brand identity and core marketing objectives. Cell animation and CGI, to name just two examples, are enormously different and each have their own unique strengths. Identifying the style that will best help you to form a meaningful connection with your audience and convey your messaging in the right way is the first stage of the creative process.
Seamless transitions are just one of the huge advantages of utilising the medium of animation. Perspective and camera angles can be used to travel within the imagery and environs of the animation itself, bringing your audience along throughout one continuous journey. Deciding how you can use transitions to immerse your viewers within your story is another vital consideration.
Music and effects are essential animation design elements, which will help to create a unique ambience and reflect your core messaging in an effective way, whether that’s injecting a sense of real life and vibrancy or creating a more visually ambiguous or dreamlike tone.
Providing additional context and contributing to the overall atmosphere, many animations will use the power of a voiceover to captivate audiences. As you should never underestimate the contribution of a voiceover, choosing an artist with the ideal tone, accent, and delivery is key to ensure your animation feels both professional and natural.
Often used to highlight key words, animated text can be used in conjunction with a voiceover to ensure the core messages of a piece are driven home to audiences. This is known as kinetic text and it can be created to mimic or characterise mood and tone, often in relation to a voiceover. This can encourage a deeper engagement and connection from audiences with your messaging or used to add emphasis to particularly important pieces of information or calls to action.