This article has been contributed by Victor Blasco.
From a digital marketing standpoint, it’s not hard to make a case for whiteboard animation.
The mechanics are shockingly simple: Have a moving hand draw an illustrated story on a whiteboard or similar surface using a marker pen. Both marketers and scientists agree on the format’s ability to enhance learning and long-term retention of ideas.
There’s just something about its minimalistic style that makes it easier for our brains to follow and retain their message – especially when it involves complex topics. Now, can you picture the impact that such a tool could have on your brand awareness?
Even more so than marketers or scientists, audiences love whiteboard videos! And why wouldn’t they? After all, we are talking about visually engaging, entertaining, and above all, useful pieces.
However, this style’s unassuming presentation can fool many into thinking that making one that works is a piece of cake. When in fact, any experienced video company will tell you that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that make a whiteboard video work!
Today, we are taking a closer look into those elements, and hopefully improving the quality of your next whiteboard animated piece.
Create Characters That Reflect Your Intended Audience
Your target audience is a make-or-break factor in every video marketing decision you make, and doubly so when it comes to creating your whiteboard video’s protagonist!
The idea is to have characters on screen that represent your ideal customer: Their story will reflect your clients’, they will share the same pain-points, and end up benefiting from the solution you can provide.
For your whiteboard video to succeed, it needs to get viewers putting themselves in the situation it’s presenting. For that to happen, viewers have to be able to empathize with the piece’s character. But how can you create a character that has this effect on your audience?
Well, there are some basic questions you must answer as you define your protagonist: Will it be a she or a he? A millennial or a boomer? What kind of lifestyle will they have? You know you have found the right essence of the character when the answers match the same key aspects of your target audience.
Use Your Brand Colors Effectively
One big plus of animated videos is that you can customize everything in them. Even the tiniest of details. As a natural consequence, this opens up a broad range of possibilities: You can tweak every little aspect of your video to convey your brand’s unique style!
However, when it comes to whiteboard videos, there’s a particularly effective element you should pay special attention to: Your brand’s color palette.
I know what you are thinking… aren’t whiteboard videos supposed to be black and white? Well, yes! For the most part.
Since whiteboard videos feature black lines drawn on a white background, the parts that are colored will particularly stand out! Therefore, you should be looking for opportunities to use the colors that represent your company or brand. It’s a subtle-yet-effective way to add a bit of oomph to the branding elements of your piece.
That said, there’s another big reason you’ll want to do so.
Unlike other styles of explainer videos, whiteboard pieces run the risk of feeling too similar to each other. Appropriately incorporating yours with the colors of your brand will distinguish it from other videos out there, and make it instantly recognizable.
It’s equally important, though, not to overdo it! The whiteboard style is there for a reason, and it’s the simplicity that makes it so effective. Never lose vision of that. Do, however, find opportune instances where your brand’s colors can shine!
Write A Captivating Script!
A killer whiteboard video, just like any well-made audiovisual piece, has its roots in an excellent script. But making one is way easier said than actually done!
For starters, you need to pursue the right tone for your piece, one that’s in line with your company’s overall branding and viewer’s expectations. Secondly, you’ll also need to keep your explanations simple!
Your video should be understandable – effortless – for most people. Steer away from using too much technical jargon! You might think that it can make you look like an expert… and it might. But it’s far more likely that it will make most people click away from your video!
And speaking of creating an easy-to-follow script, don’t overwhelm your viewers with too much information or details either! Your script should only contain absolutely essential content. Narration that rambles on or beats around the bush can make your audience lose the focus of the piece.
Lastly, keep the theme of your video (and its script) on one singular point. Not only will it make it more concise and understandable, but it will also help maintain an adequate length. If you want to cover more than one central idea, you might need more than one video!
Pro Tip – Make It About Them, Not You!
Having said all that, if you want a quick tip to get your script going the right way from the get-go, here it is: Remember that your video is all about the customer, not about your brand.
It is possible to create a mechanically flawless script, boasting all the great features your product or service has, and how your company kills it. It can even be an aesthetically artistic masterpiece. But if the viewers don’t see themselves in there, the content won’t deliver any results and the video will fail as a marketing piece.
So, the spotlight of your script shouldn’t be the product itself, but the benefits it brings to its users! Let’s develop this idea a bit more, from a practical standpoint.
- Start by addressing the customer’s pain-point. People engage the most when the topic is related to themselves, so you should try to spark that engagement from the very first second to capture their full attention. Which is also why you should steer clear of even mentioning your brand in the introduction of the video.
- Outline their problem and its negative consequences on their lives. Then move on to the solution – k.a: Your product or service. Don’t just mention it, but genuinely describe how it addresses the issue.
- Finally, your script should reach a more “promotional” tone the closer it gets to the end. Then it’s the moment to subtly tackle this question: Why should the buyer choose your product rather than one from another brand? Try to answer comprehensively and descriptively without sounding too salesy, and you’ll have an awesome script in your hands.
Make It Fun & Entertaining: Make It Memorable!
The more entertaining you manage to make your video, the more chances your viewers will watch it until the end, share it, and further engage with it. Most importantly, you’ll have more chances for your content stick in your audience’s minds.
This “entertainment factor” is also vital in terms of education, not just marketing! It may sound strange, but it is proven that people tend to improve their learning when they are enjoying themselves.
Now, you may be wondering how exactly you go about improving a whiteboard video’s permanence…
Well, for starters, music and sound design can make a HUGE difference in how catchy – or forgettable – your whiteboard ends up being! Done right, both elements can help viewers immerse themselves in the piece and keep pace with the on-screen action and narration. And on that note, the same goes for the voice acting!
Make sure to pick a narrator whose voice matches the tone and intent of your piece! Even though your script is not likely to display a wide range of emotions (we are talking about a whiteboard video, not a Grey’s Anatomy episode) a dull narration will destroy your piece.
Lastly, – and this might not fit 100% of marketing whiteboard pieces, but it covers most of them! – a bit of humor doesn’t hurt either! However, it can be a double-edged sword. Making someone laugh is quite something, and failed attempts will end up backfiring and hurting your engagement rates instead.
Best way to go about it then? Don’t try too hard, nor be too bold. It’s better to shoot for getting a smile out of your audience than trying to hammer them with punchlines.
Pro Tip – Things to Avoid
- On-screen text: It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that too much text doesn’t precisely fit in everyone’s definition of ‘fun’ and ‘appealing’. And yet, I see many whiteboards falling into this trap! Keep on-screen written words to a minimum. Otherwise, you are defeating the purpose of making a video in the first place.
- Generic-looking content: To make your video memorable, it has to be unique. It is as simple as that. Your brand’s personal touch should permeate the whole piece to make it recognizable and distinctive. That means no templates, machine narrated text, or any of that!
- Subpar quality: Online, the quality of your content stands for the quality of your products on your viewers’ minds. Thinking you can get away with poor animation or uninspired illustrations just because the whiteboard style is so seemingly simple is a big mistake. Your audience grew up in a world full of audiovisual content – they don’t need to be professionals to recognize a well-crafted video from a mediocre one. And they’ll react to each type accordingly!
Have Your Logo Make a Splash!
Much like it happens with color palettes, whiteboard videos give you the perfect opportunity to leverage your logo for subtle and strategic branding. In video marketing – and everything else in life, really – timing is everything. There’s a right moment for most things, and in turn, a wrong one as well.
For example, starting your piece with a big frame of your logo will be a misstep most of the time. However, as your video progresses and you come nearer the climax of the second act, the time to go hard on your logo’s branding potential presents itself!
When it’s time to introduce the solution to the viewer’s pain point, your logo has a platform and spotlight set and waiting for it. It gives you an organic way of turning the video’s focus around – to your company and product – without being aggressively promotional.
And that’s then when you should seize the chance to display your logo. In this way, your brand is presented powerfully but smoothly.
Pro Tip – Use Your Logo the Right Way
- Don’t just use your logo for the sake of it – make it a dynamic part of the video! This is where your imagination and creativity pay off. If your video’s story involves a superhero, your logo would be on its chest. If it involves a robot erasing problems with eye lasers, your logo should be the irises… it’s this type of subtle suggestion that makes using your branding shine.
- Sound design can give you the perfect opportunity for accentuating your logo’s – and solution’s – introduction. Synchronizing these three events with appropriate audio cues can be a powerful brand permanence strategy.
- Use whiteboard’s contrast in your favor! Set the stage for your logo to shine, making it stand out against the white background and the rest of the elements on screen. It should be the main focus of the first frame it appears in. After that, when the explanation moves on to describe your solution, the logo stops being the star – even though it can, and should, continue to appear subtly in the background until the piece’s end.
- Don’t rush it either! Your logo’s introduction shouldn’t go unnoticed. If you are having your logo appear quickly and serve no purpose, you are defeating the whole point of using it in the first place.
Whiteboard videos take advantage of a straightforward but powerful style that can enhance the way in which your audience receives your message. Despite its perceived simplicity, many different elements have to come into play to make a whiteboard video that actually gets marketing results.
Whiteboard videos, as a rule, are well known for being easy to remember. However, a whiteboard video that uses the elements we discussed will remain in your audience’s minds far longer, and more effectively.
Try and incorporate these tips into your next marketing whiteboard video, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the response.
About the author: Victor Blasco is an audiovisual designer, video marketing expert and founder/CEO of the explainer video company Yum Yum Videos.