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What is an Explainer Video

15th Feb 2016, author: Eve Myhill

Explainer Video? What is it? Let me explain : )

They are exactly what it sounds like. A short animated film that demonstrates how something works. They have been used for a millions topics from What is big data? to What is Google Plus? Their strength lies in their simplification of a complex topic. The language is usually colloquial presented in friendly style which immediately places the viewer on even footing with the presenter. Our oversea cousins at Epipheo make great examples of explains: Click here

Explainers come in many forms. They typically run from between 1 – 2 minutes and offer concise information that leaves the viewer feeling illuminated not lectured. One of the most important things t consider when approaching this concept is of course you market / audience. I recently met someone at a show that said ‘cartoons are not for us, our product is too serious’ I said ‘well, yes and no. Animations and graphics are not necessary cartoons.’ Everyone uses graphics in some capacity for their marketing materials whether it’s a price point or a pie chart. What animation does is allow you add another dimension to engage the viewer.


For example IBM recently created a short explainer about dashDB: The power of Data Warehousing in the Cloud. There approach is minimal, statistics driven and whilst friendly, it’s more corporate in its feel.


In contrast some brands prefer a more playful approach with characters. This US company Plain Simple Studios specializes in explainer videos laying it out plain and simple. It is outside the 2 minute mark, but it’s interesting enough that you watch it to the end and so have 95,601 other.

Something Different

And of course don’t be afraid to break the mold. You don’t just have to do what your neighbors are doing. Ask your animation company to think outside the box. But if you do. be prepared to consider unusual ideas, as these are ones that get noticed and shared. Like this explainer for Visual Website Optimizer with over 4 million views

So in a nutshell, an explainer is most often found on a website homepage explaining about your company or your product in a nutshell. Its not to be confused with a corporate film which is more about your company culture, mission statement and working ethos as well as what you do. You can also include as many explainers as you want in your site and in fact its recommended to have one for each product or service making your film more relevant to your audience.