We work with startups to create amazing explainer videos, and there’s nothing like kickstarting a project by finding inspiration in a few super slick examples. In lieu of finding that resource, we thought we’d create our own – just for you. Don’t tell anyone. This is your secret weapon.
According to Forbes, 17% of you are about to bounce from this article ✌️, as you’ve already read for 4 seconds. However, if this were a video instead of a text post, you’d might get a little more comfortable. We should keep this in mind, particularly in a landscape where engagement is the currency.
SO. Here’s what we’ve learnt from the best explainer videos in 2018, and a list of our favourites for you to watch, digest and draw inspiration from. Just like we have.
P.s. We didn’t include Dollar Shave Club, because who hasn’t watched that!
23 Explainer Video examples
Onee of the easiest ways to draw inspiration for your project, is to watch great examples that have come before. We’ve tried to pull them apart a little, what we like and the useful elements to draw inspiration from. I’m sure you’ll find your own favourites from our listed favourites:
#1. Unroll.me explainer video. Using real people to explain the pain points the Unroll.me solves… And then, in the same way, introduces them all to the app. So it’s a journey of “How annoying is this”, and Oh this solves it really well.
#2. Zopim explainer video. This is more of a feature focused video, especially when it gets into it. Have to admire the creative direction though. It’s also really interesting to see how they’re pairing animation (of chat bubbles) with actual cinematography too.
#3. Tripcase explainer video. A nice articulation of the features with a monologue and some animation, whilst using visuals to navigate you through the problem the app is solving. I.e. Travelling being stressful.
#4. Clear explainer video. Quite interesting to note that there’s no story lead sound, audio / dialogue. There’s only atmospherics and things to embellish the app preview. I suppose that’s one of the luxuries you can exploit if you are selling a simple concept.
#5. Text me up. So unlike Clear above, this is a pretty complex idea to explain, and it’s done very well.
#6. Slack explainer video. Love how humour, real life, animation are all pulled into one video. It’s a super smart and if you’re in the startup world and you liked this video – we’d definitely recommend taking a closer look at Sandwich. Just know a 2 minute video from Sandwich cost “Typically, $150K”.
#7. Brief Me explainer video. Similar in style to Dollar Shave Club, though a little lower in production value. It’s a smart script and a fun way of conveying all of the features of the app – I do seem to find people much more engaging than animated examples.
#8. Near Lock explainer video. The thing that helped get this onto our list is the fact that it’s the founder telling the story about the product. That’s useful (technically) for a few reasons: 1. You don’t need to pay actors, and 2. You can bring the real passion + founding story to life.
#9. Digit explainer video. Really liked the way this animates, and I think a particularly core component to the success of the Digit video is the voiceover artist. It’s worth thinking about how conversational hee is, and how that makes you feel about the brand.
#10 Final explainer video. Personally I love how Sandwich video couple cinematography with animation. In Final’s video, they rely more heavily on using the scene’s to inject humour, as opposed to the dialogue.
#11. Risual explainer video. Fun to take inspiration from, but not to take too seriously. Risuals take on an explainer is very humour focussed, which undermines a lot of what they say. It is interesting though, as it does make people aware, and that’s impressive considering the budget.
#12. Fair explainer video. What’s particularly impressive is the length of this video. It’s 30 seconds, and it explains the product – from start to finish.
#13. Dissolve video. We wanted to include this as it really makes you think about the danger of being generic. It’s an interesting thought, and I can’t help think about this when I see generic stock animations from cheap explainer video services.
#14. Spotify explainer. I love how Spotify compellingly communicate their core business, good music – by basing the animations so heavily on the music. They’re kicking it back ol’ school. Literally.
#15. Fifty Three explainer video. This is a great example of enhancing things with post production – they are moving the subject in frame and mirroring the smooth movements of using their product. Also notice there are literally no words (used) to describe it, yet it gives a great overview of the product.
#16. Chipotle video. This is not an explainer video particularly, though like everything on our list, it’s here because it can help with yours. I particularly love the story element to this – the beginning, middle and end.
#17. Nest explainer video. They do a really nice job of introducing the problem first – which if you’re an innovator / early adopter, is a really engaging way to watch.
#18. Paypal explainer video. Or maybe scrap everything else, and write a song that then runs us through your product.
#19. TONX explainer video. With the just riiiiiidiculous success of Dollar Shave Club, TONX has adopted a similar style, and commendable achieved a similar feel – not as funny, but the walking explanations do add some dynamism. N.b. It is a lot more technical to film FYI.
#20 Instagram Direct. I’ve always envied products that tie together with such cool and personal moments you can bring to life. It’s fun subject matter to play with, so if you can inspire emotion you should. Instagram obviously has the benefit of being a photography app though, and an already work renowned one at that.
#21. Cash Out explainer. This is a really cool way of combining a customer using the product, and telling the story of that use throughout the day. Afterall, are there many things more powerful than showing your customers actually using your products.
#22. New Relic explainer video. What I find really interesting about this one, is how they’ve used an abundance of stock footage with shots of their own product. This works because they do such an amazing job of telling the story around it with a voiceover.
#23 Bebo explainer video. After buying back the company they sold (to AOL for $850million) for $1million, Bebo founders explain what had happened and their plans to change it.
A Brucie Bonus
#24 Wistia (3 amazing) explainer video(s). Our favourite team at Sandwich collaborated with the equally amazing team at Wistia to show us how far your budget can go – and what a difference it makes. With 3 examples of production quality, but equally amazing scripts.
Something to take away from Wistia’s experiment with video cost – is the little to no effect production quality has if the story is terrible. When watching all 3 videos, I couldn’t help but think “you’re still getting an award winning agency to make 3 videos”. That is – did the consulting time really change on all 3?
We challenged Sandwich to create three different videos, all advertising the same product, but with three radically different budgets: $1,000, $10,000, and $100,000.
We think all 3 videos are great! We also think that 90% of that should be attributed to the ideas, thee people and the scripts – not the equipment.
That’s not to say it’s not interesting to see the different feel of low -> high budget productions, just that telling a compelling story should consume 90% of your time.
Explainer videos are about making your own mark, being different. That’s why we opted to catalogue the 23 Explainer Video examples above. There are some guidelines to follow, which we list below in our explainer video blueprint. Though if you want our advice – don’t look for solid rules – we prefer more flexible blueprints (as you’ll discover).
If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise–ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.
Go crazy, make it super short like Fair, or don’t take yourself too seriously like Risual, or just sing the whole thing like Paypal. Or better still, do all 3.
Explainer video blueprint.
We like action more than reading, and we like writing even less than reading. So let’s dive right in. Here are (in our minds) that the best explainer videos in 2018 have all had in common:
The FLANK formula.
Your video really should detail the following, and from our experience – preferably in this order. Feel free to copy and paste:
Step 1 – What are you selling? We sell marketing services to startups who need help executing all their amazing ideas. Quickly.
Step 2 – Why do they need it? Without FLANK, you’re sitting on lots of ideas, that you’ll kick yourself that you never executed if someone beats you to the punch.
Step 3 – How does it work? FLANK is a startup for startups. We bolt on to your existing team, get briefed, and collaborate with you on Slack, Github and all the other ways you like. To action your marketing ideas at your command. Yes Sir.
Step 4 – Answer the most obvious question they have. We’re an agency, but we’re different. We don’t focus on process and account managers, we focus on action. We understand startups and work with you (daily) to drive and nurture prospects.
Step 5 – What was that name again? FLANK sir.
Step 6 – Where can I get it? Well we have an awesome website… You’re actually on it right now. Talk to FLANK, and let’s have a fun conversation about growing your business.
Psssssst… but how long should my explainer video be? We say less than 120 seconds is the golden formula (yes to say everything above).
Here’s our evidence of how we came up with that compelling blueprint – just in case you need it. A really good introductory reference is Guy Kawasaki’s pitch slides blueprint. It’s built for startups seeking investment [not customers] – but slides 1 through 4 are certainly useful to flick through.
What are you selling?
People should know exactly what the product or service is. Zopim do a great job of introducing their software, alongside their name within 2 seconds. You know who they are, and what they do immediately – which helps maximise their time left to explain what makes them great!
Why do they need it
Explain how this will solve their problems and pain points are a great way of doing that. This doesn’t have to be spoken either, it can be implied visually – through video… For example TripCase repeatedly show fellow travellers pushing and bumping past the actor, summing up the stress of travel. Meanwhile she remains calm – showing us that it doesn’t have to be when you’ve got this app.
How does it work?
All the main features should be explained, simply. The less jargon the better. Sandwich videos are a great example of always making sure that the key features (sometimes complicated) are explained clearly, in this video for Final they explain what the service is and how it works in around 10 seconds.
PLUS if you were wondering. Here’s a great satire of how ridiculous those jargon filled videos are.
But wait! What about the?…
Sometimes people have questions or issues that might put them off your service. You should try to pre-empt those, and answer them with your words. It’s the best way to ease concerns and helps build trust. A great example is in this video for Coin “how do i get my cards in my coin your asking…”
What was the name again?
Your audience should know what your called and what you do before the end of the video. But the best explainer videos summarise their service to appeal to their audience one last time, Digit have a great example of summarising really nicely exactly what the app does and who will benefit from it (people who struggle to save) “digit automates your savings so you don’t have to think about it, or notice it happening”
Call to action?
Congratulations, they’re sold! Now all they need is to know where to get it, or what to do next.
$0.02: People like watching people. We love using animation in our videos here at FLANK, we use it like salt on potatoes – and that’s because we believe in the power of faces. There’s a huge trend toward over animating (or fully animated) explainer videos. It’s not something we’d advise blindly, there’s a lot to this story, but here’s a pull-quote from a great article about it.
If you want people to be immediately drawn to your video, if you want people to feel the exact emotion you’re eliciting, if you want this to work for pretty much every single human being on earth, there is one simple thing you have to do: Put a face in it.
$0.04: Keep it fun. Whether you’re B2B, or B2Z – you need to speak to people like… people. Businesses don’t signup for software, people do. Keep it engaging, make it sound easy and the best way to explain your value proposition is with simple language.
Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone. Average people are good at ignoring you. Average people have too many different points of view about life and average people are by and large satisfied. If you need to water down your story to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. The most effective stories match the world view of a tiny audience—and then that tiny audience spreads the story.
$0.06: Keep it sweet. And if you’re wondering how long should my explainer video be? We believe it should be less than 120 seconds, though it is up for interpretation – which is why we wrote a separate article on it.
Why do I need an explainer video?
We want to address something before we leave, and that is, why you might need an explainer video in the first place OR perhaps more pertinently, how to convince your boss for some budget. Naturally, we should answer this at the start of the article – but we didn’t feel it’d be on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
Hopefully this isn’t a stretch:
You’ve got an amazing product, but you need a little help passionately telling your customers why it’ll blow their minds! Sure, you could write a guest post, really polish up your documentation, or even work with come landing page optimisation… But let’s face it, nothing paints the picture and builds trust like video.
You also can’t skim read videos either, they go in time.
So a video that explains your product very quickly, in a much better way.
Diode digital said that video promotion is 6 times more effective than text and direct mail – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sVv9CHsY40
Whilst it’s becoming clear that the most popular form of online content is comedy. Enjoyment of video ads increases purchase intent by 97% and brand association by 139%. A majority of executives report they’d rather watch video than read text.
Yes. Executives; Decision makers; Company card holders… So let’s get this show on the road.
To be honest, there’s a heck of a lot more that can be said about video – here’s a reference if you need more.
So I know what you’re thinking. I want one!
How much do explainer videos cost?
Honestly, I think people get caught up in the glamorous world of production, get blinded by the price and then never really act on how essential they can be. In reality, if you’re a startup – with an interesting product, then explainer videos should be a marketing Step 1.
That doesn’t mean that you need to invest £000’s,
all it means is that you need one.
It’s an explainer pitch, and the value add of explainer videos comes from the story you tell – not the money you invest.
I’d argue you can get explainer videos done for < £1,000 if you have the script, and you’re super resourceful. I’d argue that because we have done it.
We love video, especially making videos for startups! We can help you let the whole world know about your great product. We write, we film, we animate.
We shut up now. The end.