The Explainer Video – Explained

If you find yourself in the market for learning about a new product you recently heard about, you’re in luck – there’s probably a video for that. Most companies nowadays have plenty of information about their services available for you once you visit their website, but one of the most popular ways to relay this information to prospective customers is through an explainer video.

An explainer video is a short-form video, usually used for marketing or sales purposes, that highlights a company’s product, service, or business idea in a compelling and efficient way. These videos are so popular nowadays, you probably didn’t even realize it had a specific name. Most businesses host them on their landing pages or feature them on the homepage of their website, and some even use these videos to advertise for their product or service on Facebook or other relevant social media websites.

Here are the key elements of an explainer video, and what you’ll need to know to create your own.

What Makes a Good Explainer Video?


Aquo – Lifestyle Video

Every good explainer video has the five same things in common:

  • Short in Length: Explainer videos are typically under 3:00 minutes, but the best ones are often shorter, between 1:00-1:30.
  • Strong Call to Action: Explainer videos should clearly state what they want their intended audience to do after watching.
  • Focused on Solving a Problem: Explainer videos are focused on addressing a specific problem, explaining their product or service, and answering why they are the solution.
  • Match Brand and Audience: Explainer videos are best when their style and tone match that of the brand – as well as the customer they are trying to reach.
  • High Quality: Explainer videos need to be high quality, both in quality of production and quality of content, to effectively communicate a brand’s value proposition.

So how are the best explainer videos able to keep their length short, their quality high, their call to action strong, and their solution simple to understand? They all follow a similar structure:

  • What: What is the audience’s problem?
  • How: How will the company’s product or service fix it?
  • Why: Why should the audience choose this company?

Too often, explainer videos get caught up on the what and the how, and forget to focus on the why. They are good at explaining a product or service, but not effective at communicating the underlying purpose behind what the company is selling. In order to effectively communicate the why, your company needs to understand who their target audience is through a video marketing strategy and present a strong underlying mission statement that uniquely connects with that intended audience.

What Type of Explainer Video Should You Make?


Bluecart – Animated Explainer Video

In order to create your own explainer video, you first need to decide what type of explainer video you want to create. Most explainer videos fall into one of three major categories.

  • Animated Explainer Video: The most popular option, animated explainer videos are used more often because of their visual nature and relative ease to create – no extensive productions required. Because of educational format of an explainer video, animated explainer videos tend to be more visually interesting than a man standing in a room talking. Animated explainer videos range in style and function, but some popular styles include:
    • Infographic: These explainer videos use charts, graphs, and clever iconography to emulate the style of an infographic while explaining the key features of your business
    • Chalkboard: An overused but popular style of animated explainer video, the chalkboard style features writing on a chalkboard or whiteboard, and is popular due to its relative ease to make.
    • Product Simulation: This style features actual screencast footage of your product in action, and is most useful for providing a high level overview of a software or digital platform.
    • Character-Driven: This explainer video uses cute cartoon figures that should represent your prospective customer to tell the “story” of your product or service, and how it can solve your customer’s problems.
    • Motion Graphic: Usually 3D animated, this type of explainer video aims to tell your product or company’s story using representational objects to incite your audience’s imagination with pictures instead of words.
  • Live Action Explainer Video: This type of explainer video uses real life people and objects to explain your company’s product or service. Harder to pull off, but excellent when done well, the live action explainer video requires a lot of creativity to keep things interesting. These explainer videos usually feature a spokesman who takes the viewer through a visual journey as he explains the company’s product and service. The spokesman if often the founder or CEO of the company highlighting their mission and purpose.
  • Crowdfunding Explainer Video: The third and final popular format of explainer video is the crowdfunding explainer video. These explainer videos can be both live action or animated, and often include a combination of the two (as most crowdfunding videos are trying to explain a product that doesn’t exist yet). Virtually every crowdfunding video is an explainer video by nature, but often run longer as they have to include more information about how they plan to spend the funds raise and introduce their team. When done right, a creative crowdfunding explainer video can make or break a campaign, and result in hundreds or even thousands of more dollars raised.

How Do I Create an Explainer Video?

An explainer video follows the same three-step production process that any video production would. These three steps are:

  • Pre-production: This is when you come up with your concept, write your script, gather your crew or partner with a video production agency, and plan your shoot or animation.
  • Production: This is where you begin animating or start shooting your explainer video.
  • Post-production: This is where you edit everything together, record your voiceover, and overlay any music or additional sound effects.

The process is very different depending on whether you are animating or shooting a live video, so make sure that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you reach out to a third party video producer or animation studio to help you. Many agencies and production houses can help guide you through the process, but make sure you go with a company that specializes in or has created explainer videos before so you don’t get caught up making a Spielberg level production and paying a heavy price for it.

All in all, explainer videos seem easy, but it takes a considerable amount of coordination, talent, and skill to pull off a good one. It all starts at the script level, so make sure you get your structure down and work within the five key elements that all good explainer videos have in common. From there, it’s all about picking the right style and concept that best fits with your company’s brand, mission, and product or service.

If you’re looking for additional resources or support for making your own explainer video, we can help! Reach out to one of our creative producers today to find out how Lemonlight can help you with all your explainer video needs.

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