Stop calling animated videos 'explainers'! The problem with video production.
5 min read
Over the last 10 years or so, something amazing has happened in the world of video production. It’s become easier to access. Not just in Melbourne, or Australia – but worldwide. The barrier to entry for using video to advertise, promote, train, etc. has been reduced to nearly nothing – any business can now produce video content.
Video production equipment and software is easier and cheaper to access, and therefore good results can be achieved with entry level equipment and competent operators.
This has intersected with the advent of mobile phone technology and social media platforms and resulted in an adjustment, or re-calibration, of acceptable standards of video production quality. Basically, we are much more willing, or conditioned, to accept lower production values.
There’s no denying that this is a great thing for many, many businesses. But what it also means is that businesses too often jump straight to the end of the chain and engage someone with a camera, or someone who’s handy with Premiere Pro or Final Cut, before they’ve done the most important step in the whole process – figuring out what you’re actually trying to communicate – what are you saying to your audience?
Take, for example, business owner Mark. Mark knows he needs to promote his business online and recognises that video is one of the most effective ways to do this. So he employs the services of John, who’s great with a camera and knows how to edit. All sounds good, right? But who’s figuring out what’s actually being communicated and how this should be executed?
We’re left with a world of video formats that are defined by their execution, rather than what they’re communicating. A world where ‘explainer video’ actually means animated video, regardless of whether it’s explaining anything.
What’s wrong with the labels for video production?
The labelling of video production formats and types is ALL WRONG. Terms like ‘explainer’ video, ‘presentation’ video, sales videos, promo videos all exist as seemingly separate ideas.
Here’s an exercise: describe the difference between a ‘sales video’ and an ‘explainer video’ and a ‘presenter video’?
You might say that the explainer is animated, and the presenter video has someone presenting the message. What you’re actually describing is the style, the execution of the video.
Let’s take the term ‘explainer video’. It’s probably safe to assume that its intent is to explain something. Ok, so what are we explaining? How a product works, how a service works, what happens to the sun after dark, the best way to cook pasta. There are many things that can be ‘explained’. And there are different styles and executions to explain something – through animation, a presenter, text on screen.
So if you’re a marketer, and you’re after an ‘explainer video’, stop and think about what you’re actually asking for. Do you really mean you just want an animated video? And if so, have you jumped ahead to style and execution without first figuring out what you’re trying to communicate?
The same applies to ‘promo videos’. What video are you making that is not designed to promote your business? We need to do better. If you have an idea in your head of what you mean when you say ‘promo video’, please flesh this out. E.g, ‘it’s a promo video to highlight the features and benefits of a new product that we’re launching’, or ‘a promo video to showcase our new state of the art facility’.
Determining the execution and style before you’ve established your message is just bad communication and bad marketing. It’s like going to a restaurant and saying ‘what can I eat that comes in a bowl’. That’s a weird thing to do. You choose what meal you want, and that’s given to you in the best dish, or execution, for the meal.
The final word on video production labels.
The way we think about video production formats and their labels needs an overhaul. The only label for businesses and marketing professionals to use is: what type of communication is required?
Figure out what you’re trying to communicate first – then let your creative partner or agency help you figure out the best style, execution and video production method for that message.