An explainer video, explained


What is an explainer video?

Brands big and small have made the explainer video commonplace as download speeds and technology have made rich media part of our everyday online browsing experience. But what is an explainer video exactly and why do you need one? Generally they are short videos that explain an idea in an engaging, accessible and sharable way. Explainer videos humanise brands, promote products and services, educate customers and provide testimonials. Done right, they can do a better job of converting customers than any other piece of marketing output.

Top tips for creating an explainer video

The best videos accomplish one goal

Consider the mission of your explainer video and distil the key messages for the all-important script. Also consider the strategy of delivering your video content – where will it appear and on what platforms? Is it a staged approach? What action do you want the viewer to take?

Determine your audience

Not all customers will want to or will need to engage with your video content. Define them in detail and don’t try to appeal to everyone. Ensure the messaging, personality and visual style are appropriate to meet your goals.

All about the script

The script is the blueprint, the backbone of your video. If the script is bad and the ideas uninspiring even the best execution will not convert customers. A script exposes the motives of the video and helps sculpt everything from there on. Your video should alleviate customers concerns to see a result from it. Consider surveying potential customers to understand their questions. A top trick is to explain this perceived problem and transition to how your service solves this. Don’t forget your ‘Call To Action’ too.

Drive produced this explainer video for the UK’s leading equity crowd funding platform, Crowdcube, to explain to people and convince them of the benefits of investing in businesses online, while touching on the process of investing and raising money on the platform.


It’s temping to throw the kitchen sink into an explainer video to drill home everything about your business, but online, patience is a rare commodity and attention spans have shrunk to mere seconds. There isn’t a hard and fast rule here, it really does depend on your marketing goals.

A video with an engaging narrative that tells a story can suck you in for 5 minutes, whereas a video about facts and figures could wear at some viewers’ patience. Generally speaking, somewhere between 1-3 minutes is considered the sweet spot. Consider though the potential to split a video into smaller, more digestible and laser-focused videos for specific products or services.

When Drive developed a suite of explainer videos for new employment app Scaled, we highlighted its two distinctive audiences, and divided the messaging to meet these potential customers. We also summed up the proposition of the app with two other videos that gave a broader overview to sell the concept, featuring on the mobile Google Play store and social media.

Get your story straight

Storyboarding is where you can begin bringing your ideas to life and chances are if it doesn’t work on paper, it won’t work in production. This is a vital stage in exploring the creative possibilities of storytelling. If a sequence isn’t naturally translating visually, if it’s a larger production or a costly scene to create, consider commissioning an animatic (an animated, moving storyboard with sound) to test how the sequence works on screen.

Style, medium

Your explainer video is representative of your businesses, but that doesn’t mean it has to be corporate. This is your chance to connect with your audience, so keep an open mind to different visual approaches and ‘out-there’ ideas.

Drive has placed an emphasis on 2D animation. This popular approach allows audiences to identify with characters and carefully nuance the pacing and bespoke style. Remember your video is the face of the company so it’s worth taking the time to get this right.

Stop motion, 2D 3D animation, live action footage or a hybrid of them all should be considered when planning your explainer video. What’s wrong with having a puppet squirrel explaining finance to you anyway? You might accidentally create the seed of a meme that takes over the whole internet.

The difference

People are sick of stock images, generic characters and repetitive opening lines. Invest more budget and time in soundtracks and voice artists, commissioning bespoke illustration and crafting something different, full of little details and originality, something true to your brand. This will make your explainer video stand out from the crowd and give it a longer shelf-life.

Personality and tone

Soundtrack, sound effects, the voice over artist, the video’s pace and style all affect the personality and tone of an explainer video. Make sure all these visual and audio cues are aligned to best meet your target audience. If it stands out, it’s more likely to be remembered, and shared. Sometimes it’s not even necessary to use a voice over if the narrative is clear enough to be understood, as seen in this explainer animation, produced by Drive for the Met Office to educate about how to better use their weather app.

Think about the bigger picture

Your video will never sit in isolate. How will people find it? Drive’s approach is well rounded, providing design support in online advertisements, a top notch website to sit your video in pride of place, and long working relationship as your client base grows.

If you’d like to see more of our motion graphics and explainer videos have a look at our animation and motion graphics work.

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