‘Why do we need to partner with a video agency to create a custom explainer video if we can do it all ourselves using templates?’ — this claim is not that far from being true. Indeed, typing ‘animation video templates’ in your browser search bar will immediately return dozens of website results offering video templates, and some of those might even be quite good, to be honest.
Taking into account the wide availability and diversity of animation assets online, it’s no surprise that businesses have started to wonder whether they need to opt for a custom explainer video, or just an animation clip that will be built from premade templates. Judging from our experience, there are cases where the use of templates can be justified and there are cases where it can’t.
Not all businesses fully understand the main differences between templates and custom-made explainer videos though, and they can be even more puzzled with the fact that video agencies also use a templated approach themselves, on occasion.
In this blog, we will take a look at the main characteristics and use cases for both of these approaches — to help you better understand which is best for your future video project 📺
- 3 Key Components Of a Successful Explainer Video
- Pros and Cons of Video Explainer Templates
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Custom Explainer Videos
- Final Thoughts
- Overview of Brand Explainer Videos by Bluecarrot
Before jumping into a direct comparison between template and custom explainer video, let’s go through the three main aspects that are the cornerstones of an outstanding explainer video.
This element determines all the future goals for the explainer video and helps to answer the main question ‘Why?‘ (and all other derivatives associated with it):
- Why are we creating this video? (e.g. to get 50,000 views on social media and 5,000 conversions)
- Who are we doing it for? (e.g. target audience)
- What problems do we aim to solve? (e.g. make audience aware of new update/feature/product release)
- How will we distribute this video? (e.g. social media ad, newsletter)
- Where will we do it? (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mails, niche blogs/forums, etc).
An explainer video strategy is quite a broad topic in itself, and if you want to explore this subject a bit more, you can do so by taking a look at our article where we discuss the importance of the marketing goals and briefing process, or simply download our full guide to animation video production by clicking on the form below.
In today’s world, people get tired very quickly, and being bombarded with thousands of ads every day, they skip almost 90% of them. If the ad manages to cut through the information noise, however, then it will most definitely win users’ hearts. This is what a great story and plot can do.
People don’t like ads, but they like stories that resonate with them. The story may have a conflict, controversy, moral component, or set of extraordinary characters — something that makes it memorable for the viewer. Great stories always penetrate deep into the essence of a problem and are able to clearly explain complex subjects.
Without storytelling, on the contrary, even the most advanced animation video will look boring and won’t perform as expected. In order to create a compelling story, try to understand first who is that person you are selling/presenting your product to, who you are as a brand, and what emotional connection is currently there between your brand and that person.
📌 Example of a type of storytelling we love:
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🥕 Choosing a suitable video style
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Let’s think about what an animation video actually is.
It’s rhythm, motion, colors, shapes, patterns, contrasts, lights, shadings, textures, associations, etc. Not only do all of these elements need to be present in the footage, they must also be correctly sequenced to create a complete quality plot.
Someone working on an explainer video has to know how to work with different — sometimes diametrically opposed — assets to create new storylines according to set requirements. All this while preserving brand identity and core messages throughout the entire video.
All these elements can truly unfold only in a custom explainer video developed by animation video professionals. In templated videos, however, it would be almost impossible to do so (we’ll explain why later on in this article).
Only quality performance of all three elements will be able to deliver you quality results 🔮
Now that we’ve covered the three ‘must-haves’ of the explainer video, let’s go over the differences between templates and custom explainer videos.
Animation video templates come in different forms and formats. Some are intended to be used by non-tech savvy people, while others are created to support designers during the animation video production process. Below, we have outlined the pros and cons of video explainer templates to help you understand what to expect from each type.
These digital video editors are specifically created for users with no tech or animation design background to help them put together their explainer videos using premade assets. Normally, this type of software has a basic interface, offers limited functionality, and includes built-in sets of elements, by arranging or modifying which users compile a video footage — as close and accurate as possible to the desired storyline.
Out of all of the methods for explainer video creation, opting for online animation software is the most cost-effective option. It does, however, come with its own list of cons.
No matter how good an online animation software is, it will never be flexible enough to accurately translate your ideas and concepts on-screen ❌
This becomes pretty obvious when you start browsing through ready-made animation software assets. Let’s say you are aiming to target mid-size manufacturing businesses and, at some point, want to display a 2-3 storey office building in your video, but the only two options that the software offers in the ‘building’ category are a skyscraper and small homestyle bakery unit (not to mention the fact that design of these assets will likely be quite generic, as well.)
The more you use generic assets from the library, the further you get from your initial and unique idea or concept ✔️
Even if the building you have pictured is nothing like either of those two options above, you may still be forced to use one of them or spend considerable time searching for another appropriate asset on the web, adding it to your image library, and so on and so forth.
Inaccurate visuals and wishy-washy stylistics negatively affect the production process and effectiveness of an explainer video as a whole ❌
There are, of course, some cases where the use of animation software for the creation of an explainer video can be justified. You can use these tools in cases when:
- Your idea or animation concept is pretty simple and straightforward — for example in an interview or an e-learning video.
- Your audience is insensitive to imagery and gives preference to the messages being articulated.
- You plan to use the explainer video for internal purposes only.
- Brand identity is not an important element of your marketing and communication strategy.
📌 Here’s an example of a templated e-learning video about precautions on industrial sites:
In other cases — like for increased brand awareness — the use of such videos would be ill-advised and like shooting yourself in the foot. To keep that from happening, make sure you are well informed around all details of animation video production. The easiest way to do that is to download our explainer video guide:
This is a more advanced approach to DIY-ing animation videos using ready made templates.
What makes pre-defined stories different from animation software is that you get an assembled animation sequence that already has a defined storyline and utilizes more advanced assets (compared to animation software).
📌 Here’s how predefined stories normally look:
As you can see, this is a complete scene, and all you need to do is simply add your visuals (screencast) and unique text, and you’re good to go… almost. Now this is where we start to uncover the disadvantages of video explainer templates.
👉 Pre-defined stories are rigid.
The main advantage — a fully assembled concept and footage — of the predefined story is also its main disadvantage at the same time. When opting for this type of animation template, you will either find a story that will match your project, or you will choose vaguely similar footage and will try to adjust it to your concept, which is guaranteed to devour extra time and money.
We’ve seen several cases in our experience where the project — which was intended to be built based on ready-made assets and templates — turned out to be produced completely from scratch using custom-made visuals. All due to the fact that ready-made assets in one form or another didn’t meet our requirements.
It can be a simple aspect ratio difference between your product’s screen (let’s say software) and the ready-made asset that comes in a template (tablet/smartphone/PC model) that will ruin the entire process and force you to redesign half of the scenes from the ground up in order for it to work well together. On top of that, the production budget will also get inflated with these types of changes.
Additional adjustments introduced to a predefined story complicate the production process, extend the project delivery timeline, and increase the production budget 💸
In the same way as with animation software, there are some instances in which these templates can be used, including:
- When you manage to find a story that is a 100% match for your idea and technical requirements for the project.
- When the brand identity doesn’t play a major role in your communication strategy.
👉 Note that, even the most expensive and high-quality stories won’t be able to perfectly match your brand identity and style (get more info about video styles and types here), and may look ‘off’ to your target audience.
The idea behind toolkits is somewhat similar to animation software, as you also get sets of ready-made assets at your disposal; however, these tools are more advanced and are created mainly for illustrators and designers — to help them speed up the production process and skip some of the basic routine work.
📌 Here’s an example of such a toolkit:
Similar to animation software, even the most advanced and detailed assets will need to be individually adjusted to each particular project. The video production team will still have to work on the concept, plot, shot composition, visual adherence to brand requirements, etc.
At first glance, it may look like the toolkits make a designer’s job easy, and that the budget expenses and labor costs should be significantly lower here. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true and use of toolkits may even overcomplicate the process, resulting in higher costs.
There’s no guarantee that, when using libraries, a designer or illustrator will be able to perfectly adjust the ready-made asset to the project requirements and, when it becomes obvious, even the highest quality illustration may end up being useless for the project 🚽
Sometimes, designers come up with their own libraries and use custom assets in their videos — as was the case with one of our 100-minute video projects.
At Blue Carrot, we designed all the objects and assets from scratch and then built a story around those assets. Such an approach turned out to be more effective than trying to source assets from different libraries for this length of video.
The use of libraries still requires the production team to adjust all the assets to the project they work on. If they don’t, the risk is a messy explainer video delivering poor results 👎
Despite all the nuances described above, toolkits are powerful tools used by professionals all over the world. That’s why we won’t be going over some particular use cases here — toolkits are a part of the custom video production process, rather than a tool for DIY-ing explainer video.
If you are more of a Do-It-Yourself type of person, make sure to check out our article on animation video production costs, where we expand on this subject a bit more. Now, let’s review the main advantages and disadvantages of custom explainer videos.
In one of the sections above, where we talked about the production process, we touched a bit on the subject of custom explainer videos. One of the main benefits of custom animated explainer videos that sets them apart from templates is their ability to effectively represent the Brand. This is the main reason why we would suggest opting for custom explainer videos.
The term ‘brand’ is not just limited to a particular color scheme or a logo that you throw on the product. It includes many components, such as price, packaging, production, audience, history, competition, and more. The combination of all these factors form the overall perception of you as a company. Your task, as a business owner, is to keep your communication strategy consistent if you want to strengthen a specific image of your business in your clients’ minds.
This is exactly what custom explainer videos help you achieve.
Custom explainer videos boost brand awareness and help companies stand out in a crowded market ⚡️
When it comes to templated videos, it can be difficult to preserve brand identity due to the very limited flexibility of ready-made assets. If these ready-made visuals do not match your brand 100%, even the best production team won’t be able to tweak them to the degree required. The only option here would be to rebuild the imagery from scratch.
When it comes to pricing, custom explainer videos will obviously demand a higher budget — compared to templated options — due to increased labor expenses. The only exception here would be in a case where you start working with templates and then proceed to readjust and reassemble them — this type of project may break the bank for you and turn out to be much more expensive compared to custom explainer video production.
What conclusions can be drawn from this custom explainer video vs template comparison and which approach should you pick: explainer video template or custom?
If you are just starting a new company and want to test the waters with your concept, you can use templates as your temporary ‘band-aid’ in the early stages. If you are creating ‘how-to’ videos, or lengthy projects that require lots of assets which constantly repeat throughout the footage, templates would work well here, too.
But if you want your videos to ‘speak out,’ and communicate your Brand values to the audience, the only way to achieve this is to create custom assets, and, thus, custom videos.
When doing so, make sure that you hire a reliable video agency, as custom explainer video production requires strong competencies and experience from a production team. Review the agency’s portfolio beforehand or ask the team to show you an overview of brand explainer videos developed by them that are similar to your niche. You can also read the article with suggestions on choosing an animation video production company.
EXPLORE OUR CASE STUDIES:
🥕 Boosting sales for AUKA app with our minimalistic video
🥕 Stylish video for promoting DreamCo agency
🥕 Increasing landing page conversions with our video for Scrathpay startup
At Blue Carrot, we fully understand how important it is to be transparent regarding the production process, especially when it comes to projects that are aimed at representing brand values and mission. We always strive to ensure that, before starting a new project, our clients receive all necessary information regarding the production process:
- Strategy Meeting & Scripting. This is the very first stage of our working relationship, where we set up project requirements, and create a concept and video script. Duration — 1 week, on average.
- Storyboarding & Voiceover Casting. In this stage, you’ll review a storyboard created for the project. It will include a sequence of sketches that outline key shots and ideas for your future video. Duration — 1 week, on average.
- Style-framing and Illustrating. This is where we will present the main characters for your video, and suggest a style, objects and locations. Once you approve the final style and format, we proceed to creating illustrations. Duration — 2 weeks, on average.
- Video Animating and Sound Creation. In the final stage of the production process, our team previews the complete footage, which includes illustrations and other imagery from the previous steps. We design sound effects and add a video soundtrack. You’ll review the final result and add suggestions, if any. Duration — 2 weeks, on average.
We use this approach on all of our projects, including these three:
An explainer video that showcases a digital radon detector: Corentium Home by Airthings. The main goal for this video was to convey the importance of controlling radon fluctuations in homes, as high radon levels pose a risk to health and well-being. We were tasked to display the product in a way that would also promote the company as a brand, in itself.
An explainer video created by our team for a Norwegian financial group, DNB. They were at the stage of reimagining their credit services and asked us to create a business video that would showcase to their clients and employees the main benefits and features of a new digital credit manager system. Aside from the product presentation, the goal for this video was to accurately showcase brand identity via messages, visuals, and color schemes.
An explainer video that we produced for Nucleus — a data analytics platform targeted at associations and non-profit. The video had to precisely describe the Nucleus SaaS platform, utilizing lots of product-specific information and brand identity elements. We created a video that fully corresponded to the client’s requirements and presented the company as a trusted technical partner.
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