The Best Animated Explainer Videos to Inspire Your Next Project

Nine seconds. That’s the purported attention span of the much-maligned goldfish. But, somewhat less-amusingly, the modern human consumer has an attention span of eight – just eight – seconds, meaning that humans have weaker concentration abilities… than goldfish. That’s according to research by Microsoft, and reported in TIME magazine, anyway. The headline-grabbing and slightly tongue-in-cheek (and since debunked, in case you were worried) conclusion was part of a larger effort to illustrate that, in this day and age, humans tend not to focus on any one thing for very long. In our content-packed digital environments especially, the next stimulus waiting to occupy our attention is only ever a click, a flick of the eye or a short scroll away.

And that trend, at least partly, explains the rise of the animated explainer video. Around 2012, company content producers switched from filming real-life whiteboards to mixing well-produced motion graphics with captivating audio, and out of this mix, the animated video phenomenon was born. Since that time, there have been countless outstanding animated explainer video examples; and, working in the industry day-to-day, our Sliced Bread video animators have seen many come and go. In this blog post, we’ll firstly take a look at the raw ingredients needed to produce a great explainer video. We’ll then take a brief walk down the ‘good explainer video’ hall of fame, and showcase some of our favourites from over the years.

What Makes a Good Animated Explainer Video?

As with many creative endeavours, making your own explainer video – and making it right – is all about nailing the recipe. The best explainer videos ever made work so effectively because the producers took the time, at an early stage, to lay the groundwork and create the conditions for impactful conceptualisation. It’s no good to simply ‘do’ video content for marketing videos, for instance; there is some behind-the-scenes work you’ll need to carry out beforehand. So before we get into our favourite explainer video examples, let’s run through the elements that go into a well-polished result.

  • Conciseness over verbosity: In a lot of ways, it makes sense to start at the end; or at least, the end runtime. Videos tend to fail when they are overly long. Your target audience doesn’t want a five-minute-plus runaround, detailing all the ins and outs – keeping it short, sweet and to the point is vital.
  • A well-executed script: The chances are, your video will require some voiceover work. For this to elevate the impact of the visuals, rather than detract from it, it needs to be properly-planned and written to a professional standard. Similarly, it’s always worth investing in professional voiceover services, rather than just going for it yourself. Trust us – it shows.
  • Communicating core concepts: Whether you’re aiming to make a fun video for brand awareness, a training walk-through, a video marketing piece or any other visual asset, figure out ahead of time exactly what the core messages are that you want to communicate. Don’t beat around the bush, and don’t waste time with filler. Get straight to the main points, and remember to focus on benefits rather than features.
  • Get the visuals right: This one almost goes without saying. Aesthetically, your video should contain simple animations that are nonetheless evocative, feature strong branding touchpoints, and be easily relatable for your target audiences. Partnering with a top-quality animation studio is always advisable.
  • Tasteful use of music: The backing track can often be one of the most difficult elements of an explainer video to get right. Music can provoke a range of emotions; it’s the producer’s job to make sure that the right emotion is evoked, and that it dovetails seamlessly with the overall impact of the video.

5 of the Best Animated Explainer Videos

With the above ingredient list in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to see exactly why the following videos do what they do so well.
Firstly, a couple of important caveats: whilst every piece on this list is a great example of an animated explainer, they are not the only examples. These are just some of our favourites; not all of them.

Second: these videos have been selected irrespective of affiliation, association, brand power, company size, intended message, or any other external factors. They’re included here for their merit, and nothing more.

1. Every Product Carbon Neutral by 2030 – Apple
Invariably, any marketing strategy or video created by the tech giant Apple will be a seriously impressive piece of work, and this animated explainer is no different. It pledges Apple’s commitment to making every product carbon neutral by 2030, and guarantees a lasting impact by mixing live-action shots with animated text and imagery, with some clever use of music thrown in, too.

2. Your Pension and Your Retirement Benefits – Syngenta
Naturally, we weren’t about to leave ourselves out of a list of inspiring and high-quality explainer videos! Each piece we produce for our clients here at Sliced Bread Animation is bespokely crafted to the highest standards of professionalism. For this task with Syngenta, we portrayed a character calmly pondering his financial future and pension investment. Our animators positioned the piece around Syngenta’s brand touchpoints and messaging pillars; this involved visualising a growing pension fund with the harvest of ripe tomatoes, for example.

3. How Deep the Ocean Really Is – Tech Insider
One of the all-time best animated explainer videos, anywhere. Viewed over 65,000,000 times, the concept is simple – explaining how deep the ocean is – and therein lies its effectiveness. This explainer video starts at the surface and ventures progressively deeper, explaining what survives (and what couldn’t) at ever-more bone-crushing depths, along with the various sea life to be found there. Simple, impactful, engaging; a classic of the genre.

4. Dear Internet – Medium
Although a thought leadership piece, this explainer video doesn’t oversell its brand identity, instead focussing on commonalities and shared values among Medium’s target audience. As a result, the video turns out as an homage to an idealist vision of the internet’s true potential; a place where “words matter, because people think before they speak.” An effective voiceover and some strong 1960s aesthetics help elevate this explainer video into a concept that stays with the viewer long after the playback has ceased.

5. McDonald’s Wants to Know Your Order Before You Do – Bloomberg
Not actually a McDonald’s own-video, this piece is nonetheless a perfect example of an animated explainer video that boosts brand awareness and increases user familiarity. In tandem with a written piece about the fast food giant’s tech revolution, Bloomberg produced this animated explainer video – full of colourful graphics, smooth transitions and punchy sound effects – to inform the reader on the history of McDonald’s, how the company is navigating the digital age, and where it’s heading next.

A 3D Animated River with 4 Stepping Stones with the words. Values, R&D, People and Business Performance on each stone

Reel in Potential Customers with Animation Technology

Often less than three minutes long, the best animated explainer videos transmute core brand messaging pillars, convey key consumer concepts and – most importantly – conceptualise a marketing narrative that aids information retention and helps tell a story. Whether you’re aiming to bolster your brand reach, launch a new product, create effective training processes or connect users with vital touchstones of your company culture, an animated explainer video is an outstanding way of grabbing the viewer’s attention and ensuring that your message – whatever it may be – stays with them.

Here at Sliced Bread Animation, London’s leading animation studio, we’ve been producing high-quality and brand-centric video content on behalf of our clients for 20+ years. Our team of animators has won countless awards and constantly pushes the limits of what it’s possible to achieve in compelling and immersive technology. To chat about your next project, and find out how an animated explainer video could revolutionise your operations, get in touch with us today.

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