We’re big fans of motion graphics. It’s not because they’re pretty or feature cool animations. It’s because they’re a unique way to communicate. They blend the best of visual communication with motion storytelling and audio to create an engaging piece of content that helps brands share their story, reach people in different ways, and present their message in a compelling package. (That’s why we think they belong in every content marketers’ mix.)
OK, But What Are Motion Graphics?
There can be some confusion about this format. Are they videos? Are they cartoons? Basically, a motion graphic is our industry’s term for animated video. They may be 2D animations, 3D renderings, or GIFS. They may include audio, voiceover, or sound effects. They may also incorporate technology like 360-degree video, Virtual Reality, or Augmented Reality. But you’re probably most familiar with them as animated videos.
How Do Motion Graphics Help Brands?
A healthy content strategy includes a mix of content, including articles, infographics, e-books, and more. But there’s no denying people are more and more interested in video. More media platforms support video, and people are coming to prefer—if not expect—information to be delivered in that package. (According to a 2014 Levels Beyond survey, 40% of consumers said they would rather watch a brand video than read the same information.)
For marketers, this is an exciting opportunity to explore motion graphics. No matter your communication needs, there are plenty of applications for motion graphics at all touchpoints.
- Traditional ads: Online or television commercials (national or regional).
- Promo videos: Viral videos, case studies, testimonials, product reviews—anything that publicizes your work or brand. May be editorial or advertorial.
- Explainer videos: Introductions, overviews, processes, tutorials for products, services, or ideas.
- Culture marketing videos: Content to showcase your brand, people, or causes.
- Social videos: Content to engage followers on social—Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. May be educational or pure entertainment. (According to Tubular Insights, 46% of consumers said they’ve made a purchase as a result of watching a brand video on social media.)
- Sales collateral: Company info, product info, or anything that a sales team regularly communicates. (Turning that info into a motion graphic can save time and energy.)
The 5 Biggest Benefits of Motion Graphics
What makes motion graphics so special? It’s a mix of both what they do for the viewer and how they help you tell your brand story.
1) They’re Emotionally Captivating
Beyond being attention-grabbing, motion graphics affect our emotions; it’s actually a biological response. Thanks to the phenomenon of emotional contagion, we immediately empathize with and mirror the emotions of the experiences we see depicted on a screen. (That’s why you experience physical fear in a horror movie or joy in a rom-com.)
When you are telling emotional stories, motion graphics give you many tools to help you communicate. Moody music, powerful voiceover, and stunning visuals can all work together to build an impactful story. (On that note, motion graphics can give you more control over how you tell a story than other video formats; live-action productions rely on things like actors, sets, weather, etc., which make it harder to control outcome. With motion, if it’s on the storyboard, you can do it.)
Example: We collaborated with International Justice Mission to create a motion graphic addressing the challenge of ending everyday violence around the world. Through audio and visuals, we conveyed the importance of this serious issue.
2) They Distill Information for Easy Comprehension
Visual communication is so effective because it targets the way your brain processes information. In fact, visual processing is nearly instant. (A 2014 MIT study found that you can process visual information in as little as 13 milliseconds.) That’s why many things are easier to understand if you can “see” them. Through visual storytelling, motion graphics help break down complex information, delivering the message simply and clearly. This is especially useful for:
- Tutorials: Motion graphics are great any time you need to show, not just tell—especially great for explainer videos.
- Processes: How does something work? What’s the process? Motion graphics are a great way to break it down.
- Data visualization: Data that seems dense and impenetrable can be easily brought to life through visualization.
- Abstract concepts: Motion graphics are a great tool to clarify, give context, or explain information.
Example: We worked with The Nature Conservancy to create 3D motion graphics to explain groundwater-dependent ecosystems and how they are affected by excessive groundwater withdrawal. It sounds dense, but it makes a lot more sense once visualized.
3) They’re a passive experience
Tubular Insights reports that consumers spend around 6 hours per week watching video content on social media networks. It’s no surprise. We all remember why we were so happy when a substitute teacher put on a video in class; it meant we didn’t have to do anything. Motion graphics are the same. Viewers don’t have to read, explore data, or exert much mental energy. They just have to press play and sit back. (Remember that the majority of consumers would rather watch than read.) When you need to deliver a contained message, doing so with motion graphics will make it easier for viewers to consume it.
4) They Can Be Repurposed
Now that social and media platforms support video, you can disseminate your motion graphics in many places and in many ways, helping extend the lifecycle of a campaign. You might break up a video to create content tailored for specific groups. You might add your motion graphic to a presentation or e-book. With evergreen topics or explainer videos, you have a piece of well-designed piece of communication that can serve you well for years.
Example: Way back in 2011 we created a handy motion graphic to explain the value of data visualization. As data visualization experts, we wanted something that would break the concept down to everyone from designers to brand marketers. It remains one of our most popular videos, and we constantly reference it in our content—a whole 6 years later.
5) They’re Great When You’re Short on Time
Most motion graphics are 30 seconds to 3 minutes long, which is incredibly helpful when you need to make an impact ASAP. (This is especially useful on social. According to a 2015 Facebook study, even watching under 10 seconds of a video can help increase brand awareness and build purchase intent.) By combining audio and visuals, motion graphics make the most of humans’ information-processing abilities, letting you say more with less content. What might be explained in a 1,500-word article can be shown in a minute. A complicated process can be visually explained in 15 seconds. Their inherently visual nature also makes motion graphics useful if you are in an environment where you can’t rely on audio (e.g., a busy trade show floor).
Example: We collaborated with NBC Universal to create a motion graphic encouraging Americans to reduce food waste. Instead of a lengthy article, this 45-second video included data from the Natural Resources Defense Council and a quick tip to help viewers.
How Start Making Motion Graphics
Motion graphics are a great tool for marketers, but only if they align with your goals and your story. Take a look at our breakdown of visual communication formats to find out if motion graphics are the right choice. If you’re ready to start making them, check out our tips for every stage of the process:
- Learn how to make compelling motion graphics in 4 steps.
- Try these tips to write an airtight motion graphic script.
- Get inspiration by checking out these 6 cutting-edge motion graphics.
- Use these 8 tactics to get more views for your motion graphics.
If you need a little help, let’s chat about your project.