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Whether you’re planning to introduce a new brand or establish a following on social media, creating animated explainer videos can help you achieve your purpose. But, for these clips to be effective, you must first understand the elements that contribute to an excellent animation.

Aside from making it entertaining and memorable, there are several things you must include in your animation to ensure that you get what you hope to gain from making it. 

Below, we list four key elements and share the best ways to deliver them in your short-but-sweet animated clip:

  1. A Good Narrative

According to writing guru Nigel Watts, a good narrative is comprised of the eight-point arc. He explained that, in order to deliver a good story, there should be a stasis, a trigger, a quest, surprise, a critical choice, the climax, a reversal, and the resolution.

The stasis is the setting of a story, showcasing how the protagonist spends life in general. The trigger is a change that is beyond the character’s control and starts him on his quest.

During the quest, the protagonist experiences a surprising twist to his story, which leads him to make a critical choice. In classic stories, this decision is usually between whether to go through the right-but-difficult path or the easy-but-crooked way out.

From there, the climax is built up until the consequence is apparent. The clip should then show how the hero’s situation is reversed before the story is resolved for good.

Since your animated video needs to be punchy and delivered in a 50-second clip, the eight-point arc is summarized into only four key elements: an introduction of the character (stasis), conflict (surprise), a quest (critical choice, climax, and reversal), and a resolution.

  1. A Likable Protagonist

Every story has a protagonist, but not every one of them is likable. In your animated explainer clips, you must make sure to create a hero who will not only help drive the story but also appeal to your audience’s good side.

In most animated explainer clips, the hero can either be a consumer or the actual product being marketed. The audience should be able to identify this character immediately. This is why you should go about the creation of this character carefully. It will help if you think about your ideal customer: what he looks like, his usual attire, and how old he is.

  1. A Quest Which Sets Audience Expectation

The next element you should think about is the quest your protagonist will take in the narrative. This will help set your target audience’s expectation on the clip as well as the brand, service, or idea it is trying to shed light on.

Generally speaking, the quest is considered the meatiest part of the narrative. It comprises the entire reason why the video is created in the first place and what would make people want to watch it.

In the case of videos made for marketing, this would mean that the quest should make the business’s offering shine. This element is also crucial in achieving one other purpose: to entertain the audience.

Remember that the primary aim of an animation video is to keep the audience watching until the end of the clip. From there, it should also entice them to share and talk about it with their friends.

  1. A Happy Ending (and Call-to-Action)

Last but certainly not the least of the key elements of great animation is a happy ending. Once you’re done establishing your protagonist, the conflict, and the quest, it is time for you to showcase the resolution of the story – the big finale, if you will.

An excellent tip from expert animator Emma Coats is to think about the ending first before working on the middle of any animated narrative. According to her, the conclusion of the story is arguably one of the most challenging to work on and should be built up beautifully.

If you’re marketing a brand or an idea that requires action on the part of your audience, this is where you should put a Call-to-Action (CTA). Of course, adding a CTA doesn’t always mean you have to redirect them to another page. You can simply ask them to spread the word or just let the information they got from your clip simmer, depending on the specific path you set for viewer conversion.

Animate Away!

Animation has become one of the best ways to inform, educate, and persuade the audience about specific information. It is particularly useful for presenting abstract ideas and concepts that you simply cannot point a camera to. This article serves as a guide for people looking to use animation to support their cause to achieve their goals.


Anthony Lam is the founder of Punchy Digital Media, a creative agency that helps organisations grow using animated videos and creative visual content. Punchy has a team across Australia and Asia and has worked with clients such as Apple, Westpac and the Australian Government, running campaigns and reaching millions of people.