Explainer Videos that Catch People’s Attention

How can we make our explainer video really stand out from the rest?

We get this question a ton here at Picturelab. There are so many explainer videos out there – everyone’s doing them – and most of them are very similar. Sometimes they’re straight up clones of those that have come before.

This may not be an issue if you’re an established brand. Everyone knows and loves you, and your explainer is actually more about the product than the brand.

But if you’re relatively new and need to create some buzz, then you may be asking, “How will people see us as something different, something better?” If so, then you need more than just a functional explainer. You need something that stands out, something that helps to establish your brand as new and exciting.

Though every case is different, here are a couple ideas we usually toss around with our clients.

Live Action not Animation

The first thing we usually hear when we mention live action is, “I probably can’t afford that”. And it definitely will be a bigger investment than a simple 2D animated explainer, but it’s not as untouchable for the bootstrapping startup as it was 10 to 15 years ago.

The advantage of a live action explainer is that it’s easier to differentiate than an animated video. As mentioned earlier, people can easily copy 2D animation using icons and little shapes and colors moving about – and actually, many of those shapes and graphics can be purchased online. And various software and apps that can create a video for you in minutes have been in market for a while now. These programs take pre-existing graphics, incorporate your text and branding, and spew out a cookie-cutter video. Animation is cheap and one in a million these days.

But it’s of course not so easy to duplicate a real actor or a location. So the benefit of a live action video is that audiences will remember an actor or a location much more than some generic 2D graphic.

A good example is the live action explainer we produced for Thumbtack. In many ways, their product could have easily been explained in an animated piece. And in fact, their UI and process are demonstrated via motion graphics overlays. So a simple animated video could have done the fundamental job of explaining the product, but what makes this video memorable are the visuals.

Attractive people doing real things connect with your audience much more than a 2D character. There’s even a fire-breather. That may not seem like much as a cartoon, but a real life person breathing fire, that’s something else.

3D Animated Explainer

Another way for your explainer to be different is incorporating 3D elements. 3D is more difficult to create than 2D, and thus, more difficult to copy. Though 3D models are available to purchase, it still takes work and creativity to integrate them. So your video will look different by the sheer fact other people (or robots) can’t just automate a finished video using pre-existing assets. You have to be somewhat careful here because if not done right, then it can look very cheesy. But a 3D video by skilled artists will be slick and memorable.

A couple examples are our Planet and explainers. Both companies asked us to create an animated video that didn’t look like other animated videos. Using 3D, we created videos that use the same techniques, but look totally different than other videos out there.


We’re all of course limited by budget, but at the end of the day, you want your explainer to stand out. These days, there are many ways to scope and design a project within budget that look different from others, so it doesn’t hurt to explore your options. When you’re in the market for an explainer video, take an extra step and discuss with your creative agency or video production company to see what’s possible.

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