We have been making Animated Explainer Video for over 8 years at Tentacle. Explaining everything from the way coffee is processed to what a prime number is. Education through entertainment is something we’re passionate about.

But the way we approach an animated explainer video has certainly evolved over the years. I Don’t think we used to even call them “explainer videos” and if I’m honest, I’m not sure I especially like that term today. It can conjure an image of horribly generic stock imagery, lazily animated in the most basic way to simply show a process.

We have always tried to make our videos warm with humour and considered design elements. In more recent years we’ve endeavoured to inject more characters and story into our explainer videos. Striking the balance between entertainment and education. This is an obvious objective when the target audience is children, using humour and engaging characters to keep the attention of the viewer.

However, this can be overlooked in videos aimed at adults, where explainers can be a little stale and dry. I think there can be a fear, when the subject matter is serious and professional to steer away from too much characterization. But if done well, this can elevate a simple explainer video into a truly engaging and entertaining marketing tool. This recent example from MailChimp couldn’t be further from your “typical” explainer animation, but does a great job at explaining what is quite a complex system and keeps you watching.

Another evolution, certainly in our own work, is the length of the videos. They’re getting shorter, sometimes split into a short series of videos, but generally shorter. This could be simply that we’re getting better at delivering a message in a short space of time (I hope so). But shorter videos also makes them more shareable on social media. Twitter limits you to 30 seconds and Instagram to a minute. So if you can get you key message across in this amount of time you have a much wider audience to share your video with.

The use of explainers on social media is changing other things about the format. They’re not always 16:9 widescreen format. Square or even 9:16 aspect ratios are becoming popular. The use of sound is changing as people have a habit of watching videos without sound while they’re out and about. So a great explainer video should work both with and without sound.

The animated explainer video has never been more popular and there are companies popping up now who can do you an off the shelf explainer video for a very reasonable price. Customised, certainly, but perhaps without really getting to know your brand and injecting the passion and style that a small studio can.