Use animation to boost brand engagement

‘Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak’, comments John Berger in the opening of his book Ways of Seeing.

The case remains the same throughout our lives — we recognise what we see immediately, using words as a tool to translate the visual experience. Without wanting to get too analytical, this helps highlight why many brands are using visual media to boost engagement.

It’s also why our previous blog outlined the benefits of incorporating video into your digital content strategy. But what if your business doesn’t have access to actors, or your want to harness a different visual style? This is where animation can be a vital resource.

Read below for our beginner’s introduction to using animation to benefit your business.

What is animation?

Animation is a method of creating a moving image by displaying a sequence of still images in quick succession. Each successive image will depict an object at a marginally progressed state of motion, so that when all images are played through the appearance of movement is achieved. See an early example from Disney, here.

Why use animation?

Animation offers a great way to visually convey a point, idea or story, as the process can be achieved from a ‘blank canvas’ — i.e created from the ground up. This allows for your message to be precisely crafted and communicated, and in a style you choose to best reflect your brand, leaving you with a final product that matches your vision exactly.

The flexible nature of using animation can also help when trying to convey a particularly succinct message or story — as you have greater (or complete) control over what will be in the final frame. 

This in turn can help with more practical means, such as creating a video to fit a punchy social media space.

Here’s an example of what we mean

We created an animation with the team about a family in financial difficulty who receive help from a charity, you can watch it here.

The style is simple, using little more than stick figures and objects to help tell the story, along with the voice of the narrator. This was intentional, to allow for minimal distraction — letting the key elements shine through.

You will likely pick up on many of these elements as you watch it; such as the visual metaphor at 00:14 —  the scissors cutting through money — to symbolise financial difficulty. But there’s also subtleties and characteristics that add a sense of ‘humanness’ to help tell what is fundamentally a human story; building empathy from the viewer.An early example of this is when the first character is introduced, Emily (Image 1). Not only are the colours warm and inviting — a bright yellow and soft green — but Emily performs a very human gesture; she waves. This tells the audience Emily is friendly; encouraging them to take her side.

Whilst a very simple example, it is subtleties such as this which allow animation to stand out while also being stripped-back in style; leaving your exact message to push through. Achieving the same with real actors, whilst maintaining an appropriate seriousness, could be a more difficult task.

It is the unreallness of Emily at the start of the video that allows for the animator/director to turn her into what they want to best tell the story.

Techniques such as this, built upon in more complex or varying ways, allow for all imaginable intricacies of a story to be told.

A final point

It’s worth recognising that creating an animation can be an arduous task. We therefore recommend using a tool to help, such as Canva, for when you desire more simple results. If you hope to make something more complex, it’s probably best to hire a professional.

Speak to us about how it can help your business's digital communications to be more effective

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