Why Whiteboard animations make great explainer videos

Founded in 2006 by Andrew Park, Cognitive pioneered the now popular whiteboard animation style. Developed to launch the RSA Animates series, we quickly showed how powerful whiteboard animation is as a medium that can be used to explain and bring to live even the most complex, dry and forgettable content.

Making the complex and abstract easier to understand

Whiteboard animation is a great medium when content is highly abstract, complex or very dense. The ability to combine images, text and audio AND then map this out in space makes it much easier to communicate lots of information, show relationships and use metaphors to short cut concepts. Whiteboard animation also allows for humorous and thoughtful images to keep people engaged. This is essential to get across some of the great ideas of our time, helping to take important topics into the wider consciousness. A recent example is our second Explainer Film for Professor Hawking, we visualised his final theory on black holes and supertranslations .

Bringing dry content to life

Sometime you need to explain things that are very important but often not very interesting. We call this dry content. This is a common problem, you want people to understand but if they are bored they are unlikely to maintain attention or remember the content at a later date. Whiteboard animation allows us to create engaging imagery and metaphors and associate them with key points in the film. The result is that the audience is more likely to engage with the whole film and remember key elements and metaphors. This is something we did for the BBC – visualising the process of quantitative easing.

Making content memorable and shareable

65% of people are visual learners, and the combination of text, images and audio make whiteboard animation very effective at delivering messages and stories in a way that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. This is something supported by research we conducted with Professor Richard Wiseman. In a study of 2090 people, where the impact of ‘talking head’ videos was compared with that of whiteboard animations. Professor Wiseman’s research found that in comparison to talking head videos, whiteboard animated (scribed) videos resulted in 15% more retention of factual information,  were 33% more entertaining and 66% more likely to be shared. 

Explainer films that are tailored, bespoke and unique

Finally, we love whiteboard animation at Cognitive, because of its versatility. This style of animation allows us to easily tailor every film we make for every client. We listen very carefully to our client’s needs and create animations that reflect their brand, identity and message. The script and the images we use are all built around our client’s specific context, style and look - literally…we often include portraits in our films. This made to measure approach allows us to make Explainer films that are truly unique and original. This is no truer than our longstanding work with the RSA, and films like this recent RSA Minimate we made illustrating Matthew Walker’s talk on sleep. 

Increasingly, research is pointing to the importance of video to get through to your audience. Buffer, in 2014, found that visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. While in 2016, HubSpot found that 55% of people consume video content thoroughly (the highest amount of all types of content) and 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers. Just having an Explainer Video is a step in the right direction, but we believe that there are big differences between Explainer Videos do and don’t use whiteboard animation. Whiteboard animation has the ability to elevate Explainer Videos to another level.

At Cognitive, we are passionate about visual storytelling and helping our clients tell more engaging stories. We pioneered whiteboard animation and still lead the way in setting the highest standards in visual storytelling. Feel free to compare our work to others and look at the quality of the script, the visual metaphors, the humour and the animation - we are confident you will see the difference. If you are thinking about making an explainer video we’d love to talk.

We love telling people’s stories, contact us so we can tell yours.

I love the way it [whiteboard animation] is democratising knowledge in such a powerful way.
— Andrew Park

Drawing Knowledge: The Psychological Impact of Whiteboard Animation

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