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Animation: a guide to getting started

13 October 2015

If you’re looking for a fresh approach to communicating with your supporters, have you considered animation? 

Animation allows you to reduce complex topics into simple friendly visuals and communicate a great deal of information in a short space of time. New technologies and innovative techniques have brought this engaging communication tool within reach of third sector organisations. 

In the last five years, many organisations have embraced the power of video creating low-budget films for channels like YouTube and Vimeo. This is a good move: according to Cisco, video accounted for 64% of internet traffic.  
For both commercial and third sector organisations, animation is dynamic, bold, colourful and powerful. Used effectively, a short animation is a potent and entertaining way to explain your message to the people you want to reach. At nim, we‘ve used animation as an effective way to reach those who might be interested in finding out about our services in 90 seconds.

Equally, animation is an excellent option if you want to promote one key message – particularly if the subject is complex, challenging or if the people you’re addressing find words and concepts difficult to understand. 

If you think an animation might work for your organisation, here are five things to consider before you get started. 

1.    Animation vs video

Why are you considering animation? Is it because you’d like to tackle a topic which is difficult to talk about? It might be because you’d like to make the content accessible to lots of different audiences. You might be trying to explain a complex idea to a particular audience and empower them to make change, like this Plan International Power of Advocacy animation. This animation is designed to inspire the audience to take action, while also explaining a topic which is multifaceted. 

2.    Start with the message

Begin with an outline script and an eye-catching headline. Your animation should support your particular message – so getting the words right will ensure the images are working as hard as possible. For charities, real life narratives make a powerful option and the use of actual voices – rather than professional voice-over artists – can bring integrity to your piece. Creating a full script can be a challenge. Make sure you also consider the design, brand and copy to ensure you hit the right tone. 

3.    How will you captivate your audience?

The first few seconds of your animation are crucial if you want your audience to take notice. Establish an emotional connection and take people on a journey by telling a compelling story; don’t forget to outline the issue, demonstrate the answer, show evidence and have a clear call to action. 

There are a wide variety of animation techniques available but you will need to find a style which best reflects your organisation’s tone of voice and will appeal to your stakeholders. Then you can work with an agency (like us!) to develop a unique look and feel which best expresses your message.  

4.    The costs…

As with all digital assets, it’s important to balance the cost and consider whether it will fulfil the desired purpose. However, the price of animation has fallen dramatically in recent years. Because animation is digital content, you can use it in lots of different ways through lots of channels. 

5.    …and benefits

Animation can help bring issues to life that people might struggle to connect with. It’s a really good way to tackle difficult topics, as Barnardo’s did with their video on the signs of child sexual exploitation.

Animation can be used on websites, social media, linked to emails, blogs and forums and screened in presentations, talks and at conferences. For charities, online giving is increasingly becoming a useful source of revenue so an engaging animation is a positive way to communicate with potential new donors as well as volunteers, employees and the people who use your services. 

Find out more about animation in action 
An animated approach to our annual report from Keech Hospice Care
Thinking about animation? 

Chris Michaeloudis

director of development, nim design

Chris has over 25 years experience in design consultancy and marketing, working with large creative agencies and small design teams. For the past 15 years Chris has been working closely with nim design developing design services specifically for charities, social housing providers and not for profit organisations. More recently she has become a qualified digital marketer and is now working towards developing a range of digital services with nim design for charities.