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How to use characters in your explainer video


An effective explainer video sums up your message in 60 – 90 seconds, using a compelling story. However, it all comes down to the characters sharing the message in an appealing way.



Character Types

Characters form the focal point in an explainer video story. Usually the story is about an event in the life of a particular character. This character is known as the protagonist. The protagonist is the one that the audience empathises and connects with.

First, the protagonist is introduced to the audience. Next, there is a dilemma or a problem, decisions need to be made and eventually the protagonist’s life or attitudes change for the better.

But a story also needs a character that drives the plot of the story. We call this the main character. This character gives us a deeper look into the plot. (Whereas the story is “happening to” the protagonist, the main character is the one “revealing” the story.)

The main character and protagonist can be (and often is) the same person. However, secondary characters also play a part in the story and help to carry the plot. What is imperative is that the characters in your explainer video story relate to your audience. Therefore, make sure that you put a lot of thought into the creation of the characters.

A team of employees putting together a puzzle.Character Creation

Before creating the story and its characters you need to consider what exactly it is that you want to achieve with your explainer video. (Are you, for example, introducing a product or are you explaining a service or a concept?) People like stories about other people that resemble them. Characters that have the same problems and the same joys as the viewers show that they understand the viewers. When the audience can relate to the characters a bond is naturally formed that engages the target audience.

Only when the target audience relates to the characters can they reach your audience on a deeper level. Therefore, carefully consider the make-up of your target audience. Think about what your typical target audience looks like, how old they are, and what their attitudes and preferences are. Then, create the protagonist, main character and secondary characters in the story around this profile.



Also think of giving your characters unique characteristics to make them stand out from the rest. This is usually achieved through animation. Animated characters are versatile and have the ability to nudge viewers into a place of empathy. Working with real live actors involves limitations, but animated explainer video characters allow great flexibility. They can be placed in unlimited scenarios and allows for characterisation that is truly unique – after all, it is the facial expressions and actions of animated characters that help set the mood and bring a story to life.

Because of the infinite possibilities, animation makes it straightforward to create characters that the target audience can easily relate to. Animated characters also provide other benefits: We tend to remember animated characters better. Animated characters make the audience feel comfortable and entertained, while also giving them a memorable experience. Animation also gives an element of fun, which makes the video more captivating and enjoyable.

So, use uniquely animated characters to reveal the problem, options and solutions in your explainer video. Storytelling is powerful, but it is the characters that make the story! The characters have the potential to create a strong bond with the viewers. Moreover, a successful character can be used over and over again, e.g. in follow-up series of your videos, or in your social media content, or as a mascot to promote a brand. The right character also has the ability to boost engagement and to build trust. So, before making your next explainer video, give careful consideration to the creation of the characters in your story!