Explainer video styles abound these days. You can think of these styles like delicious ice cream flavors. Each has its own sweet, alluring characteristics but it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. Nevertheless, you now have more choices than ever when deciding on the right explainer video style for your unique goals and needs and it is indeed an important choice. With that in mind, we’ve put together this brief guide to make that task easier for you!

First things first: what is an explainer video?

An explainer video provides a high-level explanation of a concept such as a business service, a product, or a corporate mission.

The premise of the explainer video is included in the roots of our business name: Gisteo. We combined “gist” – the core of a matter or subject – with “video” – those audiovisual clips found all over the internet – as a means of emphasizing our mission and our services. Explainer videos help increase engagement and time on site while reducing the chances of customers becoming distracted or bored from a potential info-dump.

Tips for making an effective explainer video

When in doubt, be Brief

The advent of the internet and the instant services it has enabled means that the average attention span of target audiences is frighteningly short. Businesses and companies need to engage and inform their audience quickly to prevent people from losing interest and searching for an alternate web page.

That is why we focus largely on brief videos ranging from thirty seconds to ninety seconds. Grabbing the audience’s attention, delivering a few key pieces of information in a concise and entertaining manner, and closing with a memorable hook or call to action is a template that works well for virtually any business imaginable.

Tell stories instead of statistics

When you’re selling products and services, storytelling is preferable to simply spewing blocks of raw data to your audience. This is not to say that technical information has no place in a video, but it can be presented in memorable ways by invoking emotional responses such as humor, excitement and energy. Storytelling is a highly malleable technique that excels at appealing to broad audiences; well-crafted storytelling videos can be suitable for almost every type of business audience.

Location, Location, Location

Like the geographical positioning of a real-life billboard, the placement of an explainer video can be as important as the content and style of the video. The length and content of your video can influence where it is displayed online:

  • Homepage: A short, riveting video at the top of the homepage can easily replace a large block of text with a similar message.
  • Internal website pages: Longer videos – ninety seconds or over – and videos with higher quantities of technical information are best positioned on pages related to the topic that they cover.
  • YouTube: Google owns and operates YouTube. When a video and its description are optimized for SEO, the resulting boost in search rankings and incoming web traffic can be significant.
  • Email campaigns: An email with “video” in the title and a link to a relevant and mesmerizing video can further bolster web traffic to a client’s website.
  • In-Person presentations: Starting a meeting with an explainer video can set the tone for the remainder of the presentation while stimulating interest in a topic.
  • Blogs and whitepapers: Supplementing text-based information with topical and entertaining videos can augment both media. This hybrid approach can combine the benefits of both media and mitigate their drawbacks simultaneously.
  • Pre-roll ads: The number of viewers that skip introductory ads on YouTube and similar video services may make this seem like a sub-par suggestion. However, YouTube does not charge advertisers when a view skips an ad. And viewers that do not skip the ad at the end of the mandatory countdown are likely to watch the ad in its entirety.

How to choose the right explainer video style

Studies show that businesses that include videos in their marketing campaigns achieve 49% revenue growth faster. Choosing the right explainer video style is critical because no two businesses have the same needs, whether big or small.  Startups are way different than larger corporations and each may require a different approach to connect with their target audiences. Even businesses of the same size and same industry might find themselves seeking a different style.

The primary key to getting great results is to select the explainer video style that best fits your business marketing objectives and target audience. It is essential because NOT all explainer videos are created equally.

In doing so, it’s better to get clarity around the essential things that matter the most. Once you do that, you will be better positioned to choose the right style. So, before selecting any explainer video style, you should address the following questions:

  • What are your business goals?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is your tone and brand voice?
  • What is the message you want to deliver?
  • What’s your budget?

Let’s take a closer look at each of the explainer video styles along with their pros and cons.

2D Animation

2D animations are great for both B2B and B2C businesses. Along with providing freedom in terms of styling, characters and storytelling, they evoke emotions.  May 2D videos are funny & straightforward, and they result in higher engagement rates even for a complex product or service.

2D animations are a great way to create a personal connection with the target market. Businesses that rely heavily on social media marketing, have a straightforward message to deliver, or looking for more humorous content should consider 2D animations.

  • 2D animations are engaging and they can incorporate characters to help spice things up.
  • The message tends to resonate more with the target audience vs. videos only featuring stock video.
  • The storytelling potential of this explainer video style makes it memorable.
  • If your business delivers highly technical information, 2D animation with characters may not be ideal.
  • 2D animations appeal more to emotion and less to reasoning.
  • Showcasing a “real” product, complex hardware etc. can be more difficult in this style.

3D Animation

3D animated explainer videos are growing in popularity as an explainer video style.  They offer an unmatched visual appeal with a 360° view of the product, thus serving as a great way to show off great looking hardware, devices and more.

You need to assess the need for a 3D explainer video. Sometimes, viewers can get lost in the animation and miss the message. And the whole point of marketing is to get the message through the target customer so you’ve got to be careful. Thus, if your brand has a well-crafted message and you want to keep things simple, you might not need to spend the big bucks that 3D animation require.

While it can be relatively expensive, it is certainly worth it. Many brands such a Ferrari, Xbox, Panasonic, and Tesco have already started to incorporate 3D explainer videos in their marketing strategies.

  • 3D animations are visually impressive.
  • They’re great for showcasing real-world products.
  • They can give your brand image a boost.
  • 3D animation is significantly more expensive.
  • Turnaround times are much longer as it’s a more labor-intensive undertaking.
  • If your script isn’t effective, no amount of “eye candy” will save your video.


Motion Graphics

You may want to opt for motion graphics if you are selling a complex service or product. Motion graphics make the product easily understandable, straightforward & engaging. They can make a great impression on a viewer without being overcomplicated.

The downside of motion graphics is that they may lack a little bit of emotion appeal. That’s why we often recommend combining motion graphics videos with 2D character animation videos. While motion graphics explain the complicated parts, the 2D animation brings the emotional qualities to make a killer combo.

More than telling a story, motion graphics often deliver a straightforward message. This explainer video style is used effectively by businesses that seek to explain statistics and numbers using moving visuals.

An excellent motion graphics video would work correctly for financial industry reports, startups seeking investors, tech industry companies looking to build brand credibility or non-profit companies that rely heavily on research.

  • Motion graphics are great at simplifying more technical, complicated and sophisticated subjects.
  • These videos tend to look a bit more corporate and less cartoonish.
  • Motion graphics can be mixed well with other styles.
  • If not professionally scripted, this approach may oversimplify essential concepts.
  • Storytelling isn’t as easy with this style.

Kinetic Typography

In its essence, kinetic typography’s eye-catching visual content makes it a unique, compelling explainer video style. Your target audience will feel enthralled and drawn in by the movement and text on the screen.

If you are fond of beautiful fonts and want to use them in an animated video, this style is for you. Kinetic typography is perfect for creating dynamic and interactive content and grabbing attention with words and images. It is a great option for when you don’t want to rely on a voice over as the moving text will tell your story, even in a crowded conference exhibit area or if the video is muted by default on social media.


  • The use of words, colors and visual help created a polished brand image.
  • It ensures words in motion capture and holds the attention of your audience without relying on a voice over.


  • The script needs to be concise and must include “Power Words.”
  • When lacking a voice over, it require viewers to be paying close attention to your video or you risk them missing key messages.

Whiteboard Animation

This video explainer style is perfect when content is highly abstract, complex, or very dense. A whiteboard explainer video combines images, text, and audio & then maps it out in space, making it much easier to communicate lots of information, show relationships, and use metaphors to shortcut concepts.  The hand writing out text and drawing images in an engaging technique and visual device to guide the entire video.

Whiteboard animation is great for longer form content and storytelling. This type of video allows the story to unfold in front of the viewer’s eyes. It facilitate an expressive video that can be used to convince an audience of a product’s uses or the value of a service.


  • Incorporates storytelling and visual processing that holds the audience’s attention.
  • It simplifies technical information or complex ideas very effectively.


  • Characters are often static and there is less interaction vs. 2D animation, so the message must be strong.
  • Viewing the hand draw the video may become a bit distracting, especially if the video is several minutes long.

When it comes to explainer video styles, versatility matters!

No two companies are alike, even when they operate in the same industry or sell the same type of product or service. And target customer bases vary wildly. Because of these factors, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for explainer videos. A 2D animated video, for example, may not be the best choice for a business that caters to emergency responders.

To meet the needs of our clients, we offer a variety of styles that we can use to educate and entertain any target audience. And we are more than willing to work with new styles in order to match the corporate images that our clients wish to convey.


Again, choosing the right explainer video style boils down to your business needs. If you choose the right style, th result will be delicious and unique marketing content that will help you convert more, sell more and cut through the clutter! If you are still struggling with choosing the right explainer video style, we can help.

Please feel free to contact us by filling out our online form, emailing us at info@gisteo.com, or calling us at 1-844-438-4478. We pride ourselves on always delivering a lightning-fast response!

Stephen Conley

Stephen Conley

Stephen is Gisteo's Founder & Creative Director. After a long career in advertising, Stephen launched Gisteo in 2011 and the rest is history. He has an MBA in International Business from Thunderbird and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he did indeed inhale (in moderation).

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