The power of animation: The format with unlimited potential
Karl Doran, Founder of Flow Creative - which recently created the new animated Children in Need TV campaign, the charity's first - explores why animation is so important, and has only become more relevant and useful following the COVID crisis.
It’s been a challenging year for everyone, and we’ve all had to adapt to restrictions and find new ways of working. The world of advertising has been no exception and brands have had to adapt their messages and the way they deliver them.
It’s shown us that even during a pandemic, the world doesn’t stop turning and brands still need to communicate with their customers. We’ve seen some creative solutions, and some less so - I’m thankful we’re now seeing less of the "video-call style" adverts that every brand turned to for a few months.
One of the best tools that brands have turned to in order to get their message across, is animation. At Flow, we’ve seen a huge increase in enquiries for animated content over the last nine months, unsurprisingly, I suppose, as shooting commercial film content has been particularly difficult. Our animation team has been busier than ever crafting engaging video content for TV and online to help tell our clients' stories.
So what is the benefit of using animation, and how can brands make the most of the format?
Fully digital and online production process
Most animation is a fully digital production process - from sketching initial ideas, writing scripts and storyboarding, to animating sequences, adding sound design, and colour grading all the way to rendering the final film. It’s all done digitally, and is therefore unaffected by any social distancing restrictions.
This also means it works well to be fully remote on projects. We’ve created tonnes of content this year with a creative team that has been spread all over Europe and the US. From fully animated TV commercials to social campaigns, we’ve delivered some huge projects whilst working at home, for clients based locally and internationally.
Creating an emotional connection with your audience
We all grow up watching cartoons and animated content on the TV - we have an automatic nostalgic connection with animation, so when we watch it as adults it can quickly take us back to that feeling of childlike wonder and excitement.
Brands can tap into this by creating content that can evoke an emotional response in the viewer to make them feel anything - sad, joyous, nostalgic, or excited. Creating this emotional connection goes a long way towards gaining that loyalty that all brands crave. We always tell our clients, "you’re not communicating with a sector, a demographic, or a target audience - you’re always trying to connect with people, with human beings that will respond emotionally to your messages".
Adding character and personality to your brand
The way we interact with brands has changed; we expect them to speak our language and be human and be accessible. One of the most effective ways to do this is creating content with a sense of humour, that shows the human side of the brand. This resonates with your audience and helps to build that precious brand awareness and brand loyalty.
You only have to look at the warmth of feeling towards the John Lewis Christmas ads, or Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot, to see two great examples of brands doing this really well, and the benefits are almost immeasurable. Creating brand characters is a great way to add another dimension to help elevate your brand from the rest and make it stand out.
The possibilities are endless
When you’re in control of the designs of the characters, the landscapes and the music - literally every aspect of a film - anything is possible, you’re limited only by your imagination! You can create fantastical worlds and scenarios, amazing characters filled with personality.
There are no limits to the stories you can tell. Creating content that is imaginative and visually arresting will help a brand to cut through the noise of constantly updated social feeds and we know how little time we have to catch the attention of our audience on social channels now.
From our ancient ancestors drawing pictures on cave walls of hunting buffalo, we humans have always told stories. It’s in our genes and we’re hardwired to respond to storytelling. That’s what makes it one of the most powerful tools for brands to reach and connect with an audience.
Brands that tell stories are the ones that we remember, and the ones that we form a positive emotional association with, making the viewer a brand advocate and a loyal supporter. Nobody wants to feel they’re being sold to any more - narrative-based content is an excellent way to reach an audience without ‘selling’ to them. Consumers are also better-informed than ever before, and make purchasing decisions based on aligned values with brands.
We’re drawn to brands we feel a connection with, and want to know their story and their beliefs. Animated content can help to set out a brand’s stand on an issue or mission statement, which helps to create those meaningful connections with customers.
Animated content is the perfect tool for creating content that presents complex ideas or processes in a really engaging and easy to understand way. At Flow, we work with a lot of tech companies that have complicated services that can be a challenge for their customers, or potential customers, to get their heads around. Animation helps to do this in a way that is accessible to a wide audience and makes the information digestible and memorable.
A carefully crafted voice-over can do a lot of the heavy lifting, delivering the key messages of the content, while the visuals support the voice-over, and help to reinforce the message, making it easier to absorb and retain the information.