Motion Graphics vs Animation — Understand The Difference

You wouldn’t wear a three-piece suit to a rock concert.

Wait… maybe you would. In which case, more power to you! But now we have to come up with a different analogy.

Let’s try this one: you wouldn’t wear a Halloween costume to a business meeting.

Unless… no, no, we’re sticking with this one.

Appearances matter, and a great look in the wrong context can fall completely flat. This is true not just for outfits, but for marketing video styles.

If you are using — or considering — animated explainer videos to market your products or services, you’re no stranger to picking the right visual style.

And for most business owners, the choice comes down to motion graphics vs animation — the two most popular explainer video styles.

Today, we want to discuss the differences between the two. Not how they look — you can probably tell them apart easily.

(But just in case, here’s another article that explains the visual difference.)

No, what we really want to discuss is how both of these styles align with your marketing and business goals:

  • Is one inherently better than the other?
  • When does it make sense to go with motion graphics vs animation videos — or vice versa?
  • What kind of content lends itself better to which style?

And so on. We hope that by the end of this blog post you’ll be able to put the whole “motion graphics vs animation” debate to rest. At least as far as your own marketing is concerned!

So, let’s start with the first thing you need to know when weighing the pros and cons of motion graphics vs animation…

Round One. Storytelling vs education

This is not to say that neither of them can be great at combining the two!

At their best, both motion graphics and animation can tell a captivating story and break down complicated ideas into easily digestible chunks. But they do it in different ways.

(“Similar but different” is a recurring theme in this article, so brace yourself.)

Animation is a natural fit for personal narratives that put a protagonist in the spotlight.

This protagonist could be anyone. Your customer, your company founder, your employee, or any other stakeholder — depending on your goals. In an animated video, there is usually a clear problem that needs to be solved, a struggle involved in overcoming it, and a vivid “after” picture that moves the viewer to act.

And so the kinds of stories best captured through animation are the ones that wouldn’t be out of place in a chat between friends, over drinks.

Motion graphics, on the other hand, paints the big picture.

It’s about stories that are larger than any individual experience. Stories that wouldn’t be complete without sharing facts and figures, and connecting all sorts of dots into one cohesive whole.

When you have a complicated narrative to reveal, with no clear “heroes” involved, but lots and lots of events, context, and other data, motion graphics is a great choice. Especially if, unlike you, the people watching don’t have a solid grasp of all the details!

Round Two. Characters vs process

This distinction we just talked about — between storytelling and education — explains the other key difference you should know about motion graphics vs animation.

The former focuses on characters. The latter focuses on processes. Again, one isn’t inherently better than the other. It all comes down to what you’re after.

Animation is naturally expressive and emotional. It makes us care deeply about a bunch of lines on a screen…

…as long as those lines portray the characters we can relate to.

When you know your customers, you can create characters that make sense. When the characters make sense, you understand what the story should be. And once you get the story right, you win. Your viewers empathize with the cartoon people in the video and their situation.

And then they buy!

With animation, you will notice that at almost no point does your product or service become the “star” of the video. That’s by design. Your offer only matters as a solution to a problem faced by the characters.

You should explain it, of course — but only through that character-driven lens.

Motion graphics, on the other hand, really shines when representing how things work “under the hood.” There is no process too complicated that you couldn’t break down and clarify with it. For example:

Let’s say you sell a premium-priced SaaS product.

Maybe it creates custom workflows for marketers that help them react to consumer behavior automatically, in real time. Like when a customer purchases a tennis racket, your software can identify that action and send them an email about a set of tennis balls and a net — things they might also want.

With motion graphics, you can “zoom out” and show exactly how your software operates for an ecommerce company, at scale:

  • You display realistic-looking charts plotting the revenue growth…
  • You populate the screen with packages being shipped…
  • You reveal just how sophisticated and effective the workflows made with your solution could be…
  • You properly capture the possibilities of it all, in motion.

Even without any characters, that is powerful!

Round Three. B2C vs B2B marketing

The line between marketing to consumers and other business owners is blurry. Most marketers even say there’s no such thing as B2C or B2B marketing, only H2H — “human to human.”

And they have a point! Whether you sell to a business entity or a private individual, there’s a human being on the receiving end of your message. That said, their motivations — and the persuasion techniques they respond to — can be starkly different.

Animation excels at making powerful, emotional arguments. That means, it’s a wonderful fit for selling to consumers. Here’s why:

  • Most of the time, there’s only one major stakeholder involved. Or at least, only one person with the discretionary power to pay for your product or service.
  • Said person has a clear problem and needs to solve it by achieving a specific result. The problem is causing them distress, so a story-driven, emotional appeal will resonate powerfully. After all, most buying decisions are emotional.
  • Most consumers tend to choose aspirational products and services. Something they can get excited about. Something they can see themselves using. That’s where the character-focused nature of animated video really shines — it checks all the right boxes.

Motion graphics, on the other hand, is a much better vehicle for marketing to other business owners. For several reasons:

  • The #1 thing that other business owners care about is choosing the best product for their needs. You will want to show off all the right features of your offer — and how they deliver the benefits and results your B2B prospects want.
  • The B2B segment buys for three primary reasons: saving money, saving time, and making more money. A motion graphics explainer video can demonstrate how your product or service contributes to any of these goals (or all three of them).
  • You should always assume that a B2B buyer will be more skeptical, and will do a lot more comparison shopping and research than a B2C buyer. Motion graphics is the perfect style to educate them about your offer and the competitive advantage you provide. There’s no better way to give proof, convey authority, and address objections.

Motion graphics vs animation — which is right for you?

We hope that this article has helped you make up your mind on motion graphics vs animation — namely, which of the two styles you will use in your next video marketing campaign.

But if it hasn’t, that’s OK, too! Because here’s the thing…

We’re going to let you in on a little secret:

You don’t have to choose at all!

If you want to, you can combine the elements of animation and motion graphics in a single video.

It would tell a story and educate. It would have cool, likeable characters — and a jaw-droppingly compelling depiction of how your product works. And it would be equally awesome whether you sell to consumers or businesses!

Does that sound like something you would want to do?

In that case, we would love to create a unique, high-converting explainer video for your brand: a cartoon animation, a motion graphics video, a combination of the two… or something completely different!

Check out all the styles we have on offer:

  • Motion graphics
  • Cartoon animation
  • Virtual Reality Animation
  • Digital stop motion animation
  • 2D character animation

And more.

If you’re ready for your next big video marketing win, let us make you a whiteboard animation video you’d be proud of. Just enter your details below to book a risk-free pow wow with one of our experts — or visit this page to check out our animation samples, and request a pow wow there!

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