Motion graphics: the boost for your video content

From the magical world of film productions, motion graphics landed directly into the marketing mix of every content marketer a couple of…

Motion graphics
Marketing Team
Motion Design Motion graphics: the boost for your video content

From the magical world of film productions, motion graphics landed directly into the marketing mix of every content marketer a couple of decades ago. As it almost always happens when we talk about formats or communication channels, behind the idea of “motion graphics” lies a forest of meanings. In this post, we’ll try to disentangle ourselves from the many and sometimes misleading definitions. After clarifying, we’ll explain why companies can no longer do without motion graphic videos if they want to reach their target audience with effective content and enhance their marketing initiatives.

What is a motion graphic?

On the surface, the expression “motion graphic” contains its own definition, but even if its meaning seems to be limited to these two words, motion graphic can actually mean different things.

The difficulty in clearly defining this term is is due to the hybrid nature of its content, which combines the best of visual communication with motion narrative and audio. Brands choose motion graphics to create engaging content that helps them achieve important goals, from building effective messaging to enhancing their identity.

The confusion surrounds not only the different opportunities to use motion graphics as a marketing tool, but also the format. What is a motion graphic? Is it video? Is it cartoons?

Let’s try to establish some points of reference. Motion graphic refers to all 2D animation, 3D renderings, and GIFs. It can include audio, voiceover, and sound effects. It can also incorporate technologies such as 360-degree shooting, virtual reality, or augmented reality.

Motion graphic is all about creating the illusion of movement of the graphic element. Because of these constituent characteristics, multimedia projects are now the most common place for displaying animated graphics.

Motion Graphics: From the magic world of film to business

Quickly becoming a crucial element of movies and TV series, motion graphics were the preserve of film studios until the late 1990s, due to the prohibitive costs and highly specialized skills required to create them. As technology advanced, motion graphics became more accessible and began to be integrated into corporate videos.

Today, every text and graphic we see moving across any web, TV, cinema, mobile app, or gaming platform is conceived by motion designers.

Motion graphics and animation: a complicated difference

Let’s make one last clarification before proceeding further. Motion graphics and animation, even if they do not coincide, are closely related: motion graphics are a type of animation.

Animation is an extremely generic term that tends to encompass the entire field of moving images that are created using a wide variety of techniques.

There are many ways to make otherwise static elements dynamic: stop motion, CGI, claymation (the cinematographic technique of animated plasticine), and motion graphics, just to name a few. These categories of animation are not mutually exclusive: for example, today, most motion graphic content is produced with the help of CGI, but theoretically it could also be done by hand.

Different content…

In an article from a few years ago, Matt Ellis pointed out an aspect of differentiation, which relates to content, or rather the presence or absence of a narrative:

“What separates motion graphics from other types of animation (at least in terms of marketing videos) is content. Motion graphics are typically associated with setting abstract objects, text and other graphic design elements in motion. Bringing a graph, infographic or web design to life using movement is broadly speaking “animation,” but more specifically, it’s a type of animation that’s called motion graphics.”

If the video sets up and moves graphic elements in order to develop a topic, it would be motion graphics. On the contrary, if the video stages a world where there is at least one character who is able to take on emotional demands and who, in order to resolve a conflict, follows a narrative arc, we are almost certainly talking about animation.

Therefore, the difference is the presence or absence of a narrative dimension. Motion graphics would focus on giving movement to the elements of graphic design; animation could instead boast an ability to tell stories.

This distinction, even if valid in the abstract, seems rather limited today because it does not take the extraordinary development that digital video storytelling has undergone in recent years into due consideration.

… different fields of use

Animation continues to be used extensively in creative fields and in production realities of the entertainment industry where large budgets are available. For at least 100 years, animation has been used to tell the narrative and emotional adventures of unforgettable characters, while achieving the highest artistic and creative results.

The fate of graphic animation, on the other hand, has gone in a different direction but one equally rich in opportunity. According to Ellis, motion graphic videos are increasingly among the tools of choice for marketers in companies of all shapes and sizes, basically for two reasons.

Why use motion graphics?

  1. Motion graphics can illustrate complex ideas visually. Motion graphics are an extraordinary visual facilitator because they allow you to explain, using immediate modes of expression, even very complex and abstract ideas that are difficult to explain with words or still images.
  1. The visual style of motion graphics appeals to a wide range of viewers. Motion graphics can use a fun and light visual tone of voice to explore serious topics without trivializing them or making them appear childish. In this way, it can make messages more entertaining and engaging without risking to appear out of place.

The importance of video marketing for businesses

Video continues to grow in importance and popularity. It’s a highly effective form of content whose rise, which seems truly unstoppable, goes hand in hand with the mass adoption of social media. That’s why it’s an increasingly crucial element in the development of strong digital marketing.

If, as Vimeo claims, including video on sites and platforms improves conversions by around 80%, companies can’t wait any longer and should be integrating it into their marketing plans as soon as possible to enjoy the many benefits.

The top 5 benefits of motion graphics

What makes motion graphics so effective? The answer is a set of benefits for both the viewer-consumer and the brand. Let’s look at them.

1. Motion graphic videos are emotionally engaging

We’ve talked about product video and why it’s better to tell a story rather than just churning out data: videos trigger a biological response, that influences our reactions.

And animated graphics offer numerous points of activation of this mechanism, pushing us to empathize with what we see on the screen; many emotional hooks that multiply because there are so many expressive substances involved: the music that punctuates the sequences, the powerful voice over, the moving images mounted to familiar structures and characters. Everything contributes to increasing the impact of the viewing experience.

In addition, motion graphics allow for greater control over the flow of the story than other video formats. Live-action productions, for example, are based on a multitude of highly variable factors such as the quality of the actors’ performances, the complexity of the plot, the conditions, etc.. Already in the storyboard phase, animated graphics video makes an extremely rational and more stable programming possible.

2. Motion graphic videos are able to communicate information in a form that makes it immediately understandable

Through visual storytelling, motion graphics help break down complex information, delivering the overall message simply and clearly. This is particularly true in the case of videos with higher educational and explanatory content or when it is necessary to describe how a certain process develops in a timely manner.

Motion graphics, with its ability to give life to graphs and quantitative information, returns data that would otherwise be dense and impenetrable in a synthetic visual form.

Finally, it is a useful way to clarify, contextualize, or explain abstract concepts. In animated videos, to be able to explain something generic and invisible, anything goes: rhetorical figures and illustrations – symbols, objects, animals, imaginary creatures, people, or anthropomorphic characters – can be used with almost total freedom and make it possible to break away from a realistic visual register to produce associations between different planes of discourse.

3. Motion graphic videos are easy to watch

Motion graphics do not require an investment of cognitive resources as expensive as reading or analyzing lists of data. In other words, for users, it’s easier to consume content created in motion graphics.

4. Motion graphic videos can be reused

Motion graphic videos can be distributed across virtually all social platforms. There are many touchpoints that support videos and they can be used as part of multi-channel or even better omnichannel strategies. Videos in animated graphics can be easily broken down into different modules or chapters that can then be used individually depending on the requirements: for example, if you want to target different segments of customers.

Let’s add to what has just been said that animated graphic videos, thanks to technological advances in responsive design, can now be played on all devices – desktops, laptops, smartphones.

These two features combined allow companies to reach their target market through content that is both user-friendly and profiled, thus ensuring marketing initiatives have a longer life cycle.

5. Motion graphic videos are effective when time is short

Visual communication is so effective because it takes advantage of the physiological processes by which the brain processes information. In fact, visual processing is almost instantaneous.

That’s why many things are easier to understand if you “see” them. Now, while it’s true that most products need a certain amount of time to be explained, it’s also true that the audience’s attention span tends to be lower. And so companies need to capture viewers’ interest as quickly as possible. This is where visual communication becomes a necessity.

On average, 52% of viewers watch a video until the end, regardless of length.

This number even rises to 68% if the video is less than 60 seconds long, (source: VidYard, 2019). Text-based content cannot boast such prolonged (and focused) enjoyment.

Since most animated graphic content is no longer than 3 minutes, they prove incredibly useful if you need to make an impact as quickly as possible. By combining audio and visuals, motion graphics say more with fewer words, in a shorter amount of time.

Motion graphics: a consistent and memorable brand identity

Companies can be creative with their messaging, but they must keep all of their content, including video, aligned with their distinct brand identity. This means that all content must be consistent with the brand’s tone of voice to maximize the memorability of its value system.

The generation of conversions cannot happen without distinctive, newsworthy brand awareness: products won’t reach consumers if the brand that identifies them is anonymous. With the help of animated graphics, all companies, from small- and medium-sized businesses to corporations, can incorporate their brand into content by acting on multiple levels:

  • in the script,
  • in the choice of music and sound design,
  • In the visual style,
  • in the movement, i.e. the transition between sequences, the mobility of objects, the final editing.

In a market as saturated as today’s, visibility alone is not enough. Brands must be instantly recognizable and, above all, memorable. Thanks to its unique visual grammar, motion graphics present a company’s products or services – the solutions to consumers’ concerns or urgencies – in a transparent, clear and appealing way.

And it increases the likelihood that the viewer will respond to the brand with a positive attitude.

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