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What are Explainer Videos and Do they Work?

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, capturing and retaining audience attention has become a significant challenge for businesses. Enter explainer videos, a powerful video marketing tool that combines visual communication, storytelling, and engaging narratives to simplify complex ideas and effectively convey a brand’s message. These short, concise videos have proven to be an invaluable asset for companies seeking to enhance branding, increase engagement, and ultimately drive conversions.

The Evolution of Explainer Videos

Explainer videos trace their origins back to the early days of animation when creative minds sought to bring static images to life through the art of animation. As technology advanced, so did the ability to convey ideas and narratives through moving visuals. However, it wasn’t until the rise of digital marketing and the internet that explainer videos truly found their niche.

In the early 2000s, as businesses sought to establish an online presence, they faced the challenge of effectively communicating their products or services to a diverse audience. Traditional marketing methods often fell short, leading to a demand for more engaging and accessible content. Explainer videos emerged as a solution, leveraging the power of visual communication to break down complex concepts into digestible, easy-to-understand narratives.

The advent of broadband internet and the proliferation of social media further propelled the growth of explainer videos. Companies could now reach a global audience with their concise, shareable videos, fostering brand awareness and driving traffic to their websites. As consumer attention spans dwindled, explainer videos became a go-to tool for content creation and marketing strategy, capturing the essence of a brand or product in a matter of minutes.

Types of Explainer Videos

Explainer videos come in various forms, each with its own unique strengths and applications:

  1. Animated Explainer Videos: These videos utilize hand-drawn or computer-generated animations to visually represent concepts and ideas. Animated explainer videos are highly versatile and can range from simple 2D illustrations to complex 3D animations, allowing for endless creative possibilities.
  2. Live-Action Explainer Videos: As the name implies, live-action explainer videos feature real people and environments. They often incorporate a combination of footage and graphics, lending a sense of authenticity and relatability to the content.
  3. Whiteboard Explainer Videos: Whiteboard explainer videos employ a minimalistic approach, using hand-drawn illustrations on a whiteboard or digital canvas. This style is particularly effective for breaking down complex processes or conveying abstract ideas in a clear and concise manner.
  4. Motion Graphics Explainer Videos: Motion graphics explainer videos blend text, graphics, and animation to create visually stunning and dynamic presentations. These videos are ideal for showcasing product features, conveying data-driven narratives, or highlighting key brand elements.

Each type of explainer video has its unique strengths and applications, catering to different audiences, industries, and messaging objectives. The choice ultimately depends on the desired tone, level of complexity, and overall brand identity.

How Explainer Videos Work

The effectiveness of explainer videos lies in their ability to leverage principles of cognitive psychology and visual communication. By combining engaging visuals with concise narratives, these videos tap into the human brain’s natural inclination towards storytelling and visual processing.

One of the key principles behind explainer videos is the simplification of complex information. Our brains are wired to process visual information more efficiently than text or auditory input alone. Explainer videos capitalize on this by presenting complex concepts through a series of simple, digestible visuals and narratives. This approach not only makes the information more accessible but also increases retention and recall.

Moreover, explainer videos are designed to engage the audience emotionally as well as intellectually. Through storytelling techniques and relatable characters or scenarios, these videos create a personal connection with the viewer, fostering a sense of trust and familiarity with the brand or product being presented.

The combination of visuals and narrative also taps into the brain’s ability to process information through multiple channels simultaneously. While the visuals capture attention and convey key concepts, the accompanying voiceover or text reinforces the message, creating a multi-sensory experience that enhances comprehension and retention.

Explainer videos leverage various psychological principles, such as the picture superiority effect, which suggests that people are more likely to remember information presented visually than through text alone. Additionally, the von Restorff effect, which posits that distinct or novel stimuli are more likely to be remembered, contributes to the effectiveness of explainer videos by making them stand out from traditional marketing content.

By leveraging these psychological principles, explainer videos not only engage the audience but also increase the likelihood of retaining and acting upon the information presented.

The Benefits of Explainer Videos

The impact of explainer videos on businesses and marketing efforts is far-reaching and well-documented. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Increasing Conversion Rates: Explainer videos have consistently demonstrated their ability to boost conversion rates across various industries. By clearly communicating the value proposition and addressing potential objections, these videos can effectively guide viewers through the sales funnel, ultimately leading to higher conversion rates.
  2. Enhancing Brand Awareness: In today’s crowded digital landscape, standing out is crucial. Explainer videos offer a unique and memorable way to introduce a brand to potential customers. With their engaging narratives and visuals, these videos leave a lasting impression, fostering brand recognition and recall.
  3. Improving SEO Rankings: Search engines prioritize high-quality, engaging content, and explainer videos fit the bill perfectly. By incorporating relevant keywords and optimizing video metadata, businesses can improve their search engine rankings, driving organic traffic to their websites.
  4. Educating and Informing Customers: Explainer videos excel at breaking down complex topics and products into easily digestible information. This customer education approach not only increases understanding but also builds trust and credibility with the audience, positioning the brand as an authority in its respective field.
  5. Boosting Social Media Engagement: Social media platforms have become prime real estate for video content. Explainer videos, with their shareable and engaging nature, can significantly boost social media marketing efforts, increasing brand visibility and fostering a loyal online community.
  6. Providing a Competitive Advantage: In industries where products or services may seem similar, explainer videos can be a powerful differentiator. By effectively communicating unique selling points and showcasing brand personality, businesses can gain a competitive edge and stand out from the crowd.

Key Elements of an Effective Explainer Video

Creating an impactful explainer video requires a careful balance of several key elements:

  1. Scriptwriting and Storytelling: At the heart of every successful explainer video lies a well-crafted script. The script should weave a compelling narrative that resonates with the target audience while effectively communicating the key messages and benefits. Effective storytelling techniques, such as character development, conflict resolution, and emotional hooks, can elevate the video’s impact and memorability.
  2. Visual and Audio Elements: The visual and audio components of an explainer video work in tandem to create an immersive and engaging experience. The visuals should be eye-catching, consistent with the brand’s identity, and effectively convey the message. The audio, including voiceover and background music, should complement the visuals and enhance the overall emotional impact.
  3. Call to Action (CTA): An effective explainer video should clearly define the desired action for the viewer, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a service, or exploring additional resources. A well-crafted CTA, strategically placed within the video, can significantly improve conversion rates and drive desired actions.
  4. Length and Pacing: Attention spans are shorter than ever, making brevity and pacing crucial elements of an effective explainer video. While the optimal length may vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the target audience, most successful explainer videos range from 60 to 120 seconds. Maintaining a brisk pace and keeping the content concise can help retain viewer engagement throughout the video.
  5. Branding and Consistency: An explainer video should seamlessly integrate with the overall brand identity, ensuring a consistent and cohesive experience for the audience. From visual elements like colors and typography to tone and messaging, maintaining brand consistency reinforces recognition and builds trust with the viewer.

By carefully considering and executing these key elements, businesses can create explainer videos that not only capture attention but also effectively convey their message, resonate with their target audience, and drive desired actions.

Best Practices for Creating Explainer Videos

To maximize the impact and effectiveness of explainer videos, it’s essential to follow industry best practices:

  1. Understanding the Target Audience: Before embarking on the video production process, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of the target audience. This includes their demographics, interests, pain points, and preferred communication styles. Tailoring the video’s content, tone, and visual style to resonate with the target audience can significantly improve its effectiveness.
  2. Keeping it Short and Simple: Explainer videos thrive on simplicity and concision. While the temptation to cram in as much information as possible may be strong, it’s essential to focus on the core message and key benefits.
  3. Focusing on the Benefits, Not Features: Successful explainer videos highlight the tangible benefits and solutions offered by a product or service, rather than merely listing features. By showcasing how the offering can improve the viewer’s life or solve their pain points, the video becomes more relatable and compelling.
  4. Incorporating Storytelling Techniques: Effective storytelling is a powerful tool for captivating audiences and fostering emotional connections. Incorporating elements such as relatable characters, conflict resolution, and emotional hooks can make the video more engaging and memorable.
  5. Optimizing for Multiple Platforms: In today’s multi-device world, it’s essential to ensure that explainer videos are optimized for various platforms and screen sizes. This includes considering aspect ratios, resolution, and file formats to ensure a seamless viewing experience across desktops, mobile devices, and social media platforms.
  6. Measuring and Analyzing Performance: Like any marketing initiative, it’s crucial to track and analyze the performance of explainer videos. Key metrics such as view counts, engagement rates, and conversion rates can provide valuable insights into the video’s effectiveness and help inform future iterations or campaigns.

By following these best practices, businesses can create explainer videos that not only capture attention but also drive measurable results, contributing to overall marketing and business objectives.

Case Studies: Successful Explainer Videos

To illustrate the power and impact of explainer videos, let’s delve into a few notable case studies that exemplify their versatility and effectiveness across various industries and target audiences.

The iconic explainer video for Dropbox, launched in 2009, stands out as a prime example. With its straightforward narrative and charming animations, this video successfully conveyed the value proposition of Dropbox’s cloud storage and file-sharing service in a relatable and engaging manner. The simplicity and charm of this explainer video proved to be a viral sensation, garnering millions of views and contributing significantly to the company’s early growth and success.

Another standout example is the hilarious and irreverent explainer video for Dollar Shave Club, a subscription-based razor delivery service. Released in 2012, this video took the internet by storm, featuring the company’s CEO delivering a humorous monologue that perfectly captured the brand’s personality while effectively communicating its value proposition. The unprecedented success of this video, generating over 25 million views, contributed to a significant surge in customer acquisition for Dollar Shave Club.

Slack, the popular collaboration and messaging platform, also leveraged the power of explainer videos to introduce its product and showcase its features. Their initial explainer video, released in 2013, utilized a combination of animated visuals and relatable scenarios to clearly convey the benefits of Slack and how it could streamline team communication. The video’s success played a crucial role in Slack’s rapid growth and adoption, demonstrating the impact that a well-executed explainer video can have on a product’s trajectory.

The Future of Explainer Videos

As technology continues to evolve and consumer preferences shift, the landscape of explainer videos is poised for exciting developments and innovations that will shape the future of this medium. One such trend is the emergence of immersive and interactive experiences facilitated by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies.

Furthermore, advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) could enable explainer videos to adapt and personalize their content based on individual viewer preferences, behaviors, and demographics. This level of personalization could significantly enhance the video’s relevance and effectiveness, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates, further solidifying the importance of explainer videos in the marketing landscape.

As voice-enabled technologies like smart speakers and virtual assistants become increasingly prevalent, explainer videos may integrate with these platforms, enabling users to interact with videos using voice commands for a more seamless and accessible experience. This integration could open up new avenues for businesses to reach and engage with their audiences in innovative ways.

In the realm of e-commerce and product-based businesses, explainer videos could leverage augmented reality (AR) technology to provide virtual demonstrations and product visualizations. Customers could experience products in a realistic, immersive manner, enhancing their understanding and decision-making process, and ultimately driving conversions and customer satisfaction.

The future of explainer videos will likely involve a stronger emphasis on data-driven optimization, as businesses leverage advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to gain deeper insights into viewer behavior, content preferences, and performance metrics. This data-driven approach will enable continuous improvement and refinement of video strategies, ensuring that explainer videos remain relevant and effective in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

While the core principles of explainer videos – simplifying complex ideas and engaging audiences – will remain constant, the future promises exciting innovations and developments that will continue to shape the way businesses communicate and connect with their customers.


Explainer videos have become an indispensable tool in the marketing and communication toolbox. By leveraging the power of storytelling and visual communication, these videos can distill complex ideas, elevate brand recognition, and boost conversions. In an era where technology is rapidly evolving and consumer preferences are constantly shifting, the significance of explainer videos is only set to increase. They offer businesses a dynamic way to connect with their audience and stay competitive.

Interested in discovering how our services can help you create compelling explainer videos that resonate with your audience? Explore our portfolio for inspiration or reach out to us to discuss your project.

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