5 Design Elements Every Explainer Video Needs To Be Effective


With digital media becoming the primary way businesses and content creators communicate with and engage their audiences, it’s no surprise that creative explainer videos have become so popular.

However, viewer experience matters a great deal! So, the explainer video formula has had to evolve and adapt to the needs and preferences of the average online viewers — which favors short, visually rich, easy-to-consume, and entertaining content. Sigh… no biggie, right?

Producing a high-quality explainer takes more than formula; it requires a lot of design know-how to create something that will work. And that’s what we’ll be talking about today. 😉

In this article, we’ll cover five essential elements you need to work on to create an explainer that blows viewers out of the water and gets you the attention and results you are after.

Let’s get started!

Here Are The 5 Design Elements That Every Explainer Video Needs To Have

01. Impeccable Storytelling & Message

Great storytelling gets audiences involved and invested, regardless of the product, idea, or topic being conveyed. By the same token, stories are the foundation of all great explainer videos — used not only to inform viewers effectively but also to keep them intrigued and engaged all the way through.

Impeccable Storytelling

So, even before you start working on the first draft of your video’s script, you should have a solid idea of the story you want to tell and the basic elements of storytelling you’ll use to do so. These elements outline the crucial points of great stories and will act as a robust framework for you to work off.

These Include:

  • The Message: Having a clear narrative intent ensures consistent storytelling. The audience shouldn’t be confused at any point within the video. Create a single sentence that summarizes the purpose of your video and reference back to it as you draft the script to ensure that the rest of the content aligns with it.
  • The Plot: While working out the info you need to get across, also think about events and situations you think your audience will emotionally resonate with. These situations should be used to create a general outline of the story, i.e., the introduction, conflict, and resolution of your video.
  • The People: Every story needs characters, and the best characters are those that the audience can relate to (more on this in a bit).
  • The Setting: Where is your story taking place, and does the environment align with its message and characters?

Once you’ve got a clearer idea of the direction in which the story is heading, putting a script together will be much easier. A word to the wise – your explainer needs to start off strong so that it hooks viewers almost immediately. After all, the attention span of the average internet user is less than 9 seconds. Wasting time with a lukewarm intro will give viewers all the more reason to click away.

02. Relatable Characters & Situations

Explainers work best when their intended audience can put themselves in the shoes of the characters portrayed. But to achieve that, you need to do a bit of research to be able to understand them.

Relatable Characters

Do it right, and you’ll be able to model your video’s characters after the people you are making the video for, which in turn results in a more engaging experience and a more captivating video.

Few Key Questions You Should Ask Yourself While Working On Your Characters’ Design and Story Situations:

  • Who is the video for? Figuring out who your video is for early on will help you design relatable characters, i.e., characters that visually represent viewers.
  • What are their pain points? Understanding this helps you get a clearer idea of the type of situations your viewers will most likely respond to and in turn, the situations your characters will be likely to find themselves in! What a coincidence, huh? 🤭
  • How will I communicate this consistently? You need to make these things present all through the video but not hammer the viewers over the head with it! Using a storyboard to draft your video key scenes is often a great way to help you do both of those things.

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03. Art Style & Illustrations That POP

Different types of explainer videos use unique types of illustrations, digitally animated assets, and art styles to make a splash. Of course, when it comes to creating high-quality, unique & great explainer videos, the pros understand that eye-catching visuals are an absolute must!

types of explainer videos

Let’s Go Through A Few Of The Most Popular Styles That Professional Explainer Companies Use Today To Inspire and Help You Decide Which One Would Work Best!

Classic Animated Explainer Videos:

As one of the most popular styles used today, animated explainer videos have become a go-to approach to showcase complex ideas and topics in fun and engaging ways. These videos combine 2D & 3D elements with a storytelling formula to create animated illustrations that bring any message to life. Through creative graphics, bright colors, and fun transitions, animated explainers work great to capture the viewers’ attention long enough to get the job done.

Whiteboard Videos:

A specific type of animated explainer, it stands apart for its particularly minimalistic visual style. A white background and black-lined assets keep distractions to a minimum. Fun transitions and simulated “real-time drawing” keep things visually engaging and make it easier for viewers to understand even the most complex of topics.

Typography Explainer Videos:

Also referred to as “kinetic typography” videos, they are a type of explainer that takes “wordplay” to a whole new level 😎. This style uses animated typography, motion graphics, and transitions to carry your message uniquely and distinctively. It provides a lot of room for creativity and imagination while keeping things simple and production costs low.

Live-Action + Animation Videos:

Live-action explainers use actual sets with actors who perform your script. And while these videos can sometimes work on their own, they are often bolstered through animation and digital graphic assets to make things more interesting and eye-catching.

04. Branding & Visual Identity Assets

Branding your content helps establish a sense of familiarity with the viewer, which makes future content instantly recognizable and easily attributed to you. Great explainer videos should always feature unique aesthetics and a visual identity that distinguishes them from other videos.

Branding & Visual Identity Assets

Moreover, producing explainers this way also conveys a higher level of professionalism, showing viewers that what they’re watching comes from a credible source.

Here Are The Design Elements You Can and Arguably Should! Use To Effectively Brand Your Explainer Videos:

  • Video Watermarks: A simple way to brand an explainer is to insert a watermark or company’s logo that appears consistently throughout the video. Most companies place their logo in a corner, while content creators often use their predominant social media moniker to let viewers know where the video comes from.
  • Unique Color Palette: Every great explainer video sticks to a unique aesthetic that gives them personality and helps them present their message. However, taking that one step forward and sharing a distinct color palette across all your content can be a powerful branding tool that results in instinct recognition. But don’t take our word for it; just ask McDonald’s 😉.
  • Memorably Voices & Sound Design: Explainers are rich multimedia pieces, which is why they’ve become so popular on educational YouTube Channels. However, visuals aren’t the only thing you have to work with. Having a consistent narrator across all your videos or using a unique jingle or audio signature consistently can have the same or even more of an effect than a logo alone! After all, if we write “I’m Lovin’ it,” most of you will think of a tasty burger’s melody way before you think about anything else.

05. A Persuasive Call To Actions

Usually included at the end of the video, an effective call to action simply tells the viewer what steps to take next. Note that we mean persuasive, not salesy. A great CTA compliments your explainer’s message by telling viewers exactly what you’d want them to do once they are done watching.

Persuasive Call To Actions

That said, it isn’t simply a matter of what you would want them to do next, but rather giving them a reason to follow through with what you ask, based on the information presented. Timing your visuals with your script and giving a reason to the viewer to take action is often a recipe for success in this regard!

Wrapping Up

Compelling explainer videos hinge on specific design elements to make their content and message easier to understand and more appealing to follow through. That’s why they work so well! By clearly outlining what you intend to communicate, conveying this information through effective storytelling and eye-catching visuals, and propping it all up in effective branding and CTA, you can transform an ok video into an irresistible explainer! And the only way to do so consistently is to understand what all these design elements bring to the table.

Hopefully, now you do! So, what are you waiting for? Time to get those creative juices flowing and start developing that amazing explainer video your audience will love!

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