Attract a Global Audience with Narrative in Animation

Rachel Denton
  • Content Editor
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When hearing the term ‘animation’, most people would automatically think of children’s films, television or cartoons. It is mistakenly referred to as a genre in many cases, when really it is just a technique, and one of the most versatile methods for transferring information in concise and universal ways. In our day-to-day lives we are constantly bombarded by information, from sources such as Facebook and Twitter – and brands are increasingly using motion graphics and animated media to capture the attention of their target audiences on these platforms.

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If you tell me, it's an essay. If you show me, it's a story.
Barbara Greene
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The Narrative Mind

The art of storytelling is a method of information transfer that has been practiced for thousands of years. Before the first recorded writing, humans were telling stories using images, and to this day it remains wired into our psychology. We are built to react emphatically to narrative, therefore it is unsurprising to see that using the techniques of storytelling in content marketing creates very positive, and memorable results.

As human beings we find it easier to relate to brand-related content with narrative. A story that embodies a brand marketing message resonates with audiences on an emotional level, allowing brands to not only forge a connection, but to influence perception.

For the purposes of short, concise and snappy media, animation is the ideal story telling platform. Channel E4 is famous for using these effectively; short ads that exemplify the brand within a scene, a story or narrative that lasts a few seconds but engages the audience through it’s animated content.

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Show Don’t Tell

If you can demonstrate what your brand stands for without using words, your target market can expand massively. Much of the most successful animated content succeeds without using words at all; as the information is presented using visuals, or expressive characters that explain what is happening without the need for words, they can easily be appreciated by people from all over the world. Disney Pixar’s short films are famous for this, as are numerous foreign films that break down international language barriers without having to use subtitles, such as Sylvain Chomet’s Belleville Rendez-vous.

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Besides this, the omission of text and dialogue, and a focus on visuals can in fact lead to much better retention of information – 65% of people are visual learners. Also, consider this; how many times have you scrolled through your Facebook feed and encountered a shared video, and lingered to watch the content without turning on the volume? According to several online content distributors, the majority of viewers on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter watch videos without sound. It is therefore vital to have strong visual communication techniques that do not rely on dialogue.

Make the ‘Boring’ Engaging

Consumers are often put off by walls of statistics, even if they’re there to demonstrate the superiority of a product. If you’re looking to find a technique that quickly and concisely puts across numerical information without losing the interest of your audience, you probably want to take a look at animated infographics. These often-minimalist motion graphics use movement and clever transitions in tandem, with graphs and other ways of visualising quantitative data, so that it can be easily consumed by a wide audience (even if they have limited understanding of the subject matter). Unicef’s Children of the Recession infographic video combines character, narrative and a clever presentation of statistics to create short but emotionally evocative content. When you can engage a consumer’s empathy at the same time as they absorb your statistics, they’re far more likely to keep watching.

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Occasionally, your target audience will be required to watch a loading screen whilst they wait to view your website, and this is another point at which you may lose their interest. You’re probably familiar with Chrome’s dinosaur jumping game, which you can play if you’re waiting for your internet connection to load (or just if you’re bored as Chrome have made it available online too). Simpler examples include modest but endearing looped animations that play as you wait for a site to load. Independent film studio, Tonko House, practices this technique, using the main character from their short film in a small animation – this not only provides a more interesting loading screen than text or a loading bar, it supports the whimsical and emotive atmosphere of their brand.

As you might expect with dynamic animated content, it is easy to go overboard and overwhelm your audience if you’re not careful. The importance of striking a balance between sleek, concise static content and motion graphics cannot be overstated, but if done right you can be left with content that can delight, evoke emotion and inspire your audience, leading them to research further into your brand, securing them as a loyal customer.

At the end of the day, animation and motion graphics not only allow you to put across your information in a universally entertaining and engaging way, but they tap into the fierce attachment we humans have to storytelling and our ability to empathise.

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