Which Animation style should I pick?

The style of your marketing video is just like the packaging on an important product. It will have a huge impact on how your audience perceives your message, and even your brand. If you pick the right style elements, they will work together to complement the effectiveness of your communication; if you make poor choices the opposite will occur. 

So how do you pick a style for your video? Well, before you get hopelessly lost among the details, it is important to step back and build a profile of what you need by answering some questions about your project. This will make your decisions less about what you like personally, and more about what is most effective for your brand and audience.

1) Will your audience respond best to an informal or professional tone?

2) Is your goal more promotional or informational?

3) Should your video represent concepts literally (more concretely) or conceptually (more abstractly)?

Once you have established your answer to these questions, it will be much easier to make informed decisions regarding stylistic elements for your video. So let’s dive in and look at the most common style categories and what they work best for:

Motion Graphics:

Motion graphics are designed with solid shapes, textures, and fonts. They offer a tremendous amount of flexibility and can range from very professional to very cartoony, or from very concrete and realistic to very abstract and conceptual. There are two primary motion graphics styles:   

2D Motion Graphics

Like traditional cartoons, 2D graphics are typically flat and are created by a digital illustrator. This style can be designed to match the colors and fonts of your brand so that the video looks a lot like your website, and is probably the one we recommend the most. Here are some example images that show the versatility of this style (click to view full screen):

What video profiles does this style best fit? 

  • From very professional to slightly informal tone 
  • From very promotional to informational messages
  • Generally better for concrete concepts.
  • Has the added benefit of matching your existing branding. 

3D Motion Graphics

3D Motion Graphics are built in a program that is able to create the appearance of depth and perspective, and they typically have a very realistic feel. The downside of this style is that in some cases 3D is very time consuming to create and therefore somewhat expensive when compared to other options. Great for high-tech videos. Take a look:

What video profiles does this style best fit? 

  • Best for professional tone
  • From very promotional to very informational messages
  • From very concrete to very abstract
  • Best for very technical products / services

Sketchy Styles:

Sketchy styles are different than motion graphics in that they look like they have actually been drawn by hand using a marker or pen. The simplicity of this rough and unfinished look can be very captivating. In some cases you may actually see a hand drawing out the images (like it is playing in fast-forward), and in other cases you may just see the images animate in on their own.

Whiteboard Sketches

As the name suggests, whiteboard videos look like they are being sketched out on a whiteboard. This style is great for educational videos, because people typically associate a whiteboard with learning. On the other hand, it can also be good for more cartoony animations that need to be relatable and fun.

What video profiles does this style best fit? 

  • Best for informal tone 
  • Best for informational (educational) messages
  • Good for abstract or concrete concepts

Other Sketchy Looks

The sketchy style is not limited to the whiteboard look. You might also see sketches on a blackboard, paper, or just about anything else. These styles all tend to be more cartoony and if you are looking for something trendy and relatable they might work for you. We don’t typically recommend them for B2B applications as the motion graphics style tends to provide more options and credibility.

What video profiles does this style best fit? 

  • Best for informal tone 
  • Best for promotional messages
  • Best for concrete concepts

Live Action

Live action videos incorporate real footage and are more like standard TV ads. Live action can be combined with animation for a really cool look, and has the added benefit of actually showing your product / business. Because of the cost of shooting video on location, these videos will tend to be more expensive than a purely animated option. In general we would recommend live action for videos that need more of an emotional impact, as people tend to connect to real actors more than they would with an animation.

What video profiles does this style best fit? 

  • From very professional to very informal tone
  • Best for promotional messages
  • From very concrete to slightly abstract
  • Tends to have more of an emotional connection

Screen Captures

Usually combined with other styles of animation, screen captures incorporate actual visuals of a computer screen showing a user interface in action. This is great for demoing very well designed software, or creating tutorials, but otherwise can be very hard to look at as there is often way too much information on the screen. Animated representations of an interface have the advantage of simplifying things. That said, there are times when this style is very useful:

What video profiles does this style best fit? 

  • Best for professional tone
  • Best for informational messages to slightly promotional
  • Best for concrete interfaces

Conclusion

Strategically choosing all of your project's style elements to fit your marketing goals is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to video marketing.

An experienced production team that understands video marketing will be able to help you make each of these decisions, but it is still important for you to have some understanding of what to look. Hopefully this guide will make your decision process much easier, and the resulting video more effective. Good luck with your project!