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Software can be a complicated and, dare we say it, occasionally dry subject to promote. Which is why a well executed software explainer video can work wonders to bring a product to life. We’ve trawled the internet to find you 20 of the most awesome software explainer videos out there, to give you a flavour of what’s possible.
When Twitter was launched 12 years ago, many people quickly wrote it off. But Twitter were smart. By making short explainer videos, like this one, they managed to reach an audience of over 10 million people, including journalists, businesses and – crucially – their customers. Once their audience understood how Twitter worked, and how it could benefit them personally, Twitter took flight.
They’re still masters of this genre to this day, recently launching a tongue in cheek, high budget explainer video campaign that stars super dry British comedian, Romesh Ranganathan. They’re still pushing the same messaging, only the production values and personnel are now more polished. However, the heart of their explainer videos remains the same – clear messaging, a great script and a memorable delivery.
It’s these three key features that characterise an awesome explainer video and, over the course of this blog, we’re going to reveal some of the secrets behind the best videos out there. Just like any great explainer should, we’ll give you a breakdown of exactly why these videos are so effective.
When you combine the marketing might of Facebook and MailChimp, you know there’s going to be some next-level audience engagement in store. Frankly, if these guys can’t sell their products, then who can?! Well, guess what? They can and they do. Employing a candy-coloured, synth-pop animated video style with their instantly recognisable male chimp (ahem!) character, the star of the show here is definitely the animation. MailChimp are experts at demonstrating how using their intuitive software can make managing your Facebook ads a doddle.
We all love our selfies, but how many of us have the time to put these images into an actual album? Well, Chatbooks’ novel idea is to take away the hassle. Using a quirky, live action explainer video, Chatbooks captures the essence of a busy mother’s struggle to maintain a balanced lifestyle but still produce fabulous photos of her life. Many of us can empathise with her experience, which makes the tongue in cheek comedy in this short video both compelling and easy to watch. This is a slick, sassy video that really connects with its audience on a human level.
Moz is a software service company selling inbound marketing and analytics software subscriptions. This super short, animated software explainer video is a great example of how to match eye-catching graphics with an ‘on message’ script. The concept of not wanting to be picked last is one that will resonate with all of our inner children. Each message is punctuated with a clear image driving the offer home. What Moz have cleverly done here is to appeal to our gregarious human nature, encouraging us to join the community and thrive.
Next up are inbound marketing gurus, HubSpot. These guys are renowned for their A1 standard live action videos. This particular explainer video uses a combination of live action and graphics, which can be a great way to break up content and keep your audience engaged. The narrative in this explainer video sets the agenda well by presenting the challenges facing inbound marketers and providing them with a convenient solution to their pain points. This is a sure-fire win in the explainer video world, following the tried and tested “here’s the problem, now let us fix it” methodology.
We’re all familiar with PayPal, the original online payment and money transfer service. There are several of their explainer videos that we could have chosen, but this one got the nod thanks to its simpler than simple delivery. Which, ironically, is a really difficult skill to master. A sequence of clear graphics and instructional text break down PayPal’s service beautifully. As a top tip for a great explainer video, try watching with the sound off. In this explainer video, the script and images are so good, you’ll get everything you need to know just by watching.
AbaNinja is a new, intuitive software allowing businesses to prepare and send invoices digitally. The retro style of this super short explainer video highlights the importance of spending quality time with friends and family as opposed to slaving over a pile of unpaid invoices. Marketing the benefits of a Cloud-based invoice software system, this bright and colourful animated storyboard harks back to the halcyon days of Space Invaders and BBQ’s as examples of what you could be doing with your extra leisure time. With a catchy brand name, backing track and clear voiceover, this is a neat example of a compact, ‘job done’ kind of video.
Optimizely is a tech company specialising in customer experience optimisation software. Their platform technology provides A/B testing tools, in which two versions of a web page can be compared for performance testing. In this quirky live action video, Optimizely have taken the rap video pastiche and Run-DMC’ed with it! Think Big Bang Theory meets Beastie Boys! It’s brave and doesn’t take itself seriously. Which, if you’re going to try something similar, is an absolute must.
8. Smart Use
This industry leading construction app allows clients and partners involved in architecture and construction projects to collaborate, so that they can ‘mark up’ and share those all-important blueprints and documents in real-time. Who knew that was even possible but Smart Use have made it so and this animated explainer video clearly demonstrates how. By sticking to a simple core colour palette, this logical, yet highly watchable, graphics-based video sells the product in a clear, no nonsense way. There are some clever little moments to look out for, including a nifty integrated use of the overall logo.
9. Critical Software
A major player in the software industry, Critical Software deliver innovative technologies and solutions for critical information systems, including for the aerospace, energy, health and automotive industries. With complex and detailed information to communicate, this video does a great job of demystifying Safety Management services by translating key points into a graphical language. Modelling itself on an educational style ‘science’ video, the pacing and script bob along nicely. The use of primary colours also helps to keep the message in keeping with the overall brand identity, creating a sense of security and confidence.
With a film noir style jazz backing track, coupled with monochrome 3D characters, this explainer video from US-based cyber safety company CSID is as intriguing as it is other-worldly. Dealing with the sensitive and serious issue of cyber security, this is a video that really needs to make the viewer take note and listen. The statistics and case study elements of the video are clear and the British accent used for the voiceover audio lends a real reassuring and authoritative note to proceedings.
11. Speakap (Wyzowl)
Speakap is a secure platform that enables businesses to engage with all employees at any one time – no matter where staff are located. Available for web, iOS and Android, Speakap works rather like a mini Facebook for professionals. Our explainer video visually resembles a ‘Who’s Who’ set of characters coming to life, creating warmth but also a sense of trust and fun. By flattening out communication and making it instant, Speakap is a great way to encourage team building and a sense of union – which is what this explainer video is all about. After all, haven’t we always wanted to have an avatar self in the world of work?!
Modelling the script of this video on US TV host Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘celebrities read mean tweets’ segment, in this video Hootsuite designers read out their own ‘mean Tweets’ about the design of their platform’s interfaces. The effect is clever as, far from wallowing in the negativity flung at them, facing up to the ‘mean’, Hootsuite demonstrate that by listening to the feedback they are able to respond in kind with a sleek new look. Flipping the psychological switch in your software explainer video can be a powerful approach. But, as with the use of humour, the tone and content need to be bang on the money to hit the right notes.
We could have featured any number of Adobe products and services to include in our explainer video collection but, on this occasion, we’ve plumped for their Adobe Creative Cloud offering. In this live action video, Adobe showcases the myriad uses for their Adobe Creative Cloud service. It’s simple, creative and engaging, which is exactly what they want you to think about their service. It’s a slick, fast-paced and immersive video that really gives you a sense of the unbound possibilities of this product.
MetaBrite is a data capture and number crunching company. Using detailed product and purchasing information, they’re the people that somehow manage to capture all the data out there about our spending habits and make sense of it all. How do they do it? Well, you’ll have to watch their animated explainer video of course. With creative direction and animation coming from the Polish-based Studio Pigeon animation company, this is a video with a recognisable style and delivery. Fun, informative and fact-filled to the max!
Making the bold claim to be the future of social, KOMFO empower brands to own their social experience by streamlining customer conversations at every touchpoint, from one unified software solution. This very much on the purple side explainer video uses abstract shapes and graphics to explain the overall context and use of the service. It takes a little while to get used to the abstract shapes but the video very quickly establishes its own style and message, so you can just sit back and watch the pictures go by whilst still retaining the key messages.
16. Bitcoin Explained
Ah Bitcoin, a few years ago this was a geek currency nobody had heard about. But now? Well, it’s a headline grabber and then some. Although it’s a little dated now (this video was made five years ago) it’s an excellent example of how to explain an entirely new concept. Using graphics that are part spy mission, part science lesson, this fully animated video (complete with Antipodean voiceover) still maintains its worth in the explainer video top twenty. It’s kind of kitsch and a bit nerdy at the same time – a combination that actually works surprisingly well.
Design anything. Publish anywhere. That’s the brand message of Canva, a free graphic-design tool website. It uses a drag-and-drop format and gives you access to over a million photographs, graphics and fonts. This is one of Canva’s latest videos designed to give you a fly on the wall, whistle stop tour of their new to the market iPad app (also available for android mobile and tablets). Canva use an overhead camera angle in this instructional video to show the user how easy the Canva app is to access on the iPad, using real-time swipe action.
Now for something completely different in the shape of an ice cream eating dinosaur. What does this have to do with Babo’s software sell for news channels? Well, at first glance not a lot BUT this is a terrific example of how humour and an unexpected combination of narratives can really grab your audience’s attention. Bright colours and an engaging, well-paced script draw the audience in. Plus, the unorthodox example of an ice cream eating Godzilla certainly places Babo in the forefront of your mind. Oh, and the use of a split screen is also fun to watch. Good job!
19. Cast Software
It’s icon central in this explainer video from software intelligence company, Cast Software. Using a variety of icons to explain their services, Cast have succeeded in creating a new and engaging visual landscape. Reading about this company in words is relatively confusing. Yet, by using bold colours of every hue and combination, this short explainer video ticks every box in regards to the true meaning of the word ‘explain’. There’s a playful nature to this explainer. It succinctly portrays the many facets of a business and how vital it is for everything to work in harmony – just as their software should.
Cloud-based software licensing company, Nalpeiron have created a tri-colour split screen graphic-based video to explain their licensing and analytics services. Subtly injecting the white, orange and green of their brand colours throughout, Nalpeiron’s explainer video employs really slick transitions that keep you glued to the action, the pace of which ticks by beautifully throughout. They get their point across in a succinct but highly engaging fashion. The split screen elements allow for a crisp, clear message that is universally accessible in any language.
Lights, camera, action…
You don’t need a Hollywood budget to make an awesome software explainer video. But it might be helpful to remember some of the ideas and approaches in the examples we’ve pulled together. Don’t be afraid to take some of these ideas and run with them. Each video is packed with great fundamentals – from a solid script, to on-point animation, and snappy voiceovers. So, why not test this out for yourself to find a style that truly matches your brand aspirations.
Final round up
- Keep the script simple and easy to understand. Content and pacing is everything. Too much information and your audience will switch off. Too little and there won’t be anything of memorable substance.
- Always link the message of the explainer video to your overall brand. Keep reminding your audience about your brand and USP whenever possible with images and text. But try not to overdo it!
- Have fun! Using humour in your video is a great way to connect with your audience.
- Use a style that’s appropriate to your product or service. Complex information doesn’t have to be delivered in a complex way.
- Be inventive! Creativity is a great way to engage. Remember the ice cream eating dinosaur?
For more creative inspiration and new ideas, take a look at our humongous list of the best explainer videos EVER! Or, if you’re ready to get a video created but don’t know who to hire, download our free eBook: 20 Great Explainer Video Companies.