Telling Your Story With Animation

One of the best things about story-telling is how it can be done in so many ways and further still, each form of storytelling can compliment the other. For example, in business, blogging is a common way to tell stories, but blogs are rarely made worse by great graphics, videos and animations that help to visualise and tell the story.

Animation can be a particularly great way to tell parts of a story - the video nature of a motion graphic means you can say more in a few seconds than you could in a static graphic and they can be easier to produce than a live-action video that tells the same story.

When marketing a product or even just trying to tell a story to a particular audience, you have to consider the narrative. Even in a 3-second animation, there is some form of narrative - how does it start, how does it end, what’s it trying to say and most importantly, what’s the emotion in the graphic?

Emotion

We all know humans respond to emotion. It’s an incredibly powerful element of storytelling and when you plan to do animation and video, you need to consider what the emotion in the story is. Even if the accompanying message is an educational or informative one, the graphic needs to convey something.

“A significant way to make a brand's marketing resonate with consumers is through creating a story that they can connect with. Humans love stories; they’ve formed the foundations of every society ever built, they form friendships and educate us. Storytelling is central to humanizing brands - it allows marketers to emotionally connect with their audience in meaningful ways, taking them on a journey with the brand.” The Drum

Emotion is there to help build a connection with the audience and it’s this connection that drives people to take an interest in the brand, the story and the product or service you’re trying to sell.

Some of the emotions commonly conveyed in marketing stories include: humour, suspense and surprise. We’ve all seen countless examples of these emotions in advertising and marketing - from the About Page that explains the rags to riches story through comedic insurance adverts that somehow garner our interest.

Emotion sells - try it and see what happens!

Contrasting ups and downs

Animation gives you a creative license to make more from the visuals you use. With this ability to tell more of the story, you can control the pace of the story through the actual motion graphics.

With a mix of slow and fast paced animation, it’s possible to create a dynamic flow within the animation, almost like a rollercoaster - giving the visuals a more exciting and gripping feel.

This varied pace can actually add to the story you’re telling and help to emphasise any emotions that need to come across. Don’t underestimate the power of motion and speed!

Education

There has long been a school of thought that suggests different people learn in different ways - for example, the VARK learning model suggests people have preferred learning techniques through: Visual learning, Auditory learning, Read/Write learning and Kinesthetic learning (also known as Physical learning).

Although debated and discussed in science, marketing can learn something from these learning models and apply it to how people consume content - although some people prefer to read, visuals and graphics still play a big part of education in the past couple of decades, we’ve seen the rise of online audio-visual learning take off.

Platforms like YouTube, Udemy, Skillshare and the many others have become places to learn - they are all video platforms.

In a world where we are attached to technology (in some cases, literally), we are hardly ever in a position where we can’t learn, at least in the developed world. What we’re finding is that as people go about their lives, videos and motion graphics are serving as quick ways to teach and demonstrate ideas.

Animation can simplify complex life problems in the same way static graphics have for years before - the London Tube Map for example - a complex system of tunnels covering London, from East to West and North to South - the London Tube Map simplifies the system to something that anyone can understand and use.

Motion graphics serve to do the same thing - take something complicated or in depth and simplify it through easy to understand bitesize animations that explain something.

Think about the message

Animation shouldn’t just be done for the sake of animation. Yes, it’s trendy, it’s cool and it can help your marketing content stand out, but honestly, the best motion graphics hold meaning and compliment your messaging.

That isn’t to say they need to be convoluted or overly complicated, they just need to be planned, thought out and work with the messaging. They can even still be abstract, but ideally relevant.

As with marketing campaigns mentioned previously, messaging needs to start with an idea. What is the message you’re trying to tell? Start by just getting everything down into a document, use ‘word clouds’ and ‘brainstorming’ to find some of those key ideas that help show what you stand for.

Keep in mind the audience that you’re targeting - every time you develop the message, your audience should be at the forefront, as they’re who you’re trying to reach with the messaging.

You can then hone in on the key messaging and refine it further as you continue to develop the message.

Once you’ve got an idea of what you want to tell the world, you can consider the visuals and how it translates to motion (or even better, you can hire a professional to help you out!). This often involves taking key elements of the message - the distinctive parts that are instantly recognisable to the audience you’re targeting.

Think of it a little like a caricature - you want to take the bits that stand out and emphasise them so they’re obvious, recognisable and of course, relatable. In many senses, it’s the relatability that creates the emotion for the audience and the connection.

By pairing the messaging with strong motion graphics, you can be sure to emphasise your point and depending on the goal, you can inform, entertain and educate the audience at hand.

Remember though: this is still marketing and the usual rules apply!

Next Chapter: Using Motion And Animation In Social Media To Get More Rngagement