Strategy in Animation
Strategy is often used by advertising agencies to determine a direction and purpose of a design project before the art begins. It helps align a company’s brand/goals with their advertising. While often used in the advertising world it’s strangely overlooked by most animation companies even though the main purpose of most (paid) animation is advertising. Having a strategy with an animation is the difference of giving a product that just looks good to giving a product that’s effective (and look good).
Anyone that pays for animation wants one simple thing, ROI (return on investment). That return can be one of several things but the purpose of a strategy is to have an understanding of a brand and it’s users to create a type of map that shows where the project will end up and the reasons why.
Solving a problem
The first step in creating an animation strategy is to define the variables. Who is the target audience? What’s important to that audience? What is the goal of the project? What’s the budget for the project? etc.. As artists, we’re problem solvers. However, to be an effective problem solver you need to fully understand what the problem is.
Without a strategy, animation is made based on feelings rather than data. Feeling-based decisions aren’t always bad but data-based decisions will always have a much higher percentage chance of being effective. I realize that sounds boring but if you analyze a brand like an accountant more than an artist you will have facts to stand behind to create higher value products.
Why does a project need to exist?
As part of a strategy the most important element is defining the story and purpose. What do you want to say in the animation? What do you want the viewer to do? Why will this video exist? Those are all questions that should be answered when developing a strategy. When creating an animation all those questions need to be answered for it to be effective.
Style with reason
If a brand already exists then there’s a defined world that you should make within because it’s already recognizable to their customers. This doesn’t mean you can’t try new things with a brand but it does need to be able to exist in the same world. Some might see that as a negative idea but to me, that’s where things get interesting. It’s like a treasure hunt in a closet, it’s small and mostly dull but there’s always something interesting to find in there.
There are many different animation styles and each one has its own feeling to a brand or campaign. The decision of style should come with strategy in hand. What makes sense? What has meaning? What helps tell the story? When creating a style, every element in the design should mean something and a strategy should be used to help navigate that design to the brand qualities and message.
People often come to us wanting a certain style of animation without reason or purpose simply because they recently saw something that “looks cool” and they want that. Maybe they’re right and that’s the best possible solution for what they need but when we develop a strategy we can determine the best solutions for a brand/message and act confidently.
Reward your clients
As artists, we’re often excited by the idea of getting straight to work on a project and a strategy never even comes up. When that happens we lose sight of the reason why somebody came to us in the first place. People pay money for animation not because they are collectors, but because the believe we can add value to their business. It’s time to reward your clients for their faith in you and make a strategy before creating art.
– Matt Vojacek
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