Three questions to ask before making a funny explainer video.
We know Super Bowl commercials are funny, but what about explainers? After all, the purpose of the explainer is to explain. Even if they manage to get a few chuckles, they really have no purpose in life if they fail to achieve the appropriate level of clarity. That’s in contrast to a broadcast commercial, like during the Super Bowl, when they’re mostly B2C brands and half the time it’s not important, and not necessary, to explain anything. They make people laugh in the hopes that audiences will be sober enough to also remember the brand.
Explainers can be funny, but should they be? After all, they are often for B2B brands appealing to business managers and executives who care more about the bottom line and quality than someone who can make them laugh.
Similarly, for B2Cs, a customer will watch an explainer if they have a question about the brand or product. They’re looking for info and not clicking play to be entertained. Humor sometimes detracts from the message. During editing, our team here at Picturelab often find ourselves deleting precious jokes from the video because they simply don’t add much to the brand’s story, and in fact, distracts away from it.
So, should explainers employ humor?
To help you answer the question with questions, here are three to consider:
1) What is your brand’s character?
If fun and humor is part of who you are as a company, then it definitely makes sense to pursue an explainer that is playful. But even then, it needs to appeal to your audience and reflects well on the product or service.
Also, a brand evolves over time. An early stage startup may choose to be completely off-the-wall hilarious in an attempt to be noticed. But as that baby matures (and starts to draw in serious cash), it will often look to be taken more seriously.
So, consider that even though humor worked three years ago, it may not be the right approach now.
2) What is the purpose of your video?
People sometimes ask for a funny explainer, but sometimes they’re really looking for a brand video or teaser. Yes, an explainer can and should create brand awareness, but usually, by the time a person sits down and watches the full 60 to 90 second explainer, the viewer already has some idea of what the brand is.
If you’re looking for something more up-funnel, then a teaser or commercial is preferable to an explainer. And this could be short and funny as heck. The purpose here is to draw people’s attention and lead them to your site, where an explainer video will hopefully be waiting for them to nurture them further down the funnel.
So before concluding you need a hilarious explainer, think about the true purpose of the video.
3) Will you be able to do it right?
Humor is hard to do. If you’re not natural at it, or you don’t have the budget to hire an experienced creative agency or video production company, then our recommendation is to stay away from humor.
The keys to humor in an explainer video are timing and balance. If you don’t have the right doses, then you’ll distract and muddy the message. Best case is that people will laugh but won’t really have clarity on what you do. Worst case is people will get confused and they’ll stop watching your video.
It’s great to get people to laugh, and ideally, they’ll be entertained and educated at the same time. But it takes skill to craft a well-balanced video.
Our Gong overview is a good example of a balanced explainer. Clients often tell us how funny this video is. But actually, the video really only has one joke and one call back. It’s for the most part a straight explainer. It’s the balance that makes this work well.
We love funny videos here at Picturelab. But too often, we see explainers weakened by it. Humor in explainers can be an asset that gets people to remember your brand and set you apart from the crowd. But it needs to be who you are, serve the right purpose, and executed correctly.