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The ‘explainer video’ has come of age in the last couple of years as video production, hosting and sharing has become quicker, easier and slicker.

Lots of people, for example, have heard of, seen and enjoyed the Dollar Shave Club explainer video.

Making videos is a pretty big and burgeoning B2B sector now, with many SaaS vendors now targeting SMEs that want an affordable solution. These SaaS companies sit alongside pricier production studios, where explainer videos merge with the best creative video advertising.

So, although this has been done quite a bit before (I was sent this list over Christmas), I thought I’d compile a list of my favourite startup explainer videos.

What qualifies me to compile such a list? Simply that when an explainer video is done badly, nobody hates them as much as I do.

The optimistically-posed hypothetical questions, the annoying accent, clichéd soundtrack, that god-awful faux earnestness, the massive dose of twee – when they’re bad, they’re really bad.

Copy these vids’ creative and you can’t go wrong. N.B. a few of them aren’t exactly start-ups but they’re all explanatory.

Tonx: fresh roasted subscription coffee

The pace and the acting is good, change of room/scenery keeping the narrative going.

The gags are visual and not lingered over, plus the text is used sparingly and is therefore impactful.

Super Sync Sports

The game is a Google Chrome experiment, so it obviously has some good backing in ad creative, but nevertheless, the animation is flawless.

The music is great too, and the shouting children are a nice touch.

Herd Absurd

I like this video as the audience is shown to be pleased and the voiceover is nonexistent! Win!

The app is also demonstrated well and the production value isn’t prohibitively high.

Epipheo

The concept is high risk - as an explainer video to explain how good Epipheo is at explainer videos, this better be good.

I really like the script; it’s dry and funny and it beats a lot of the competition.

The proof is always in the pudding, so it’s good that this is good.

Instagram Direct

The soundtrack is conducive to watching, the pace is right.

The people are undeniably kin with Gap advert people. It’s hard not to engage, despite the fact they’re hipsters.

And the production values are obviously pretty good.

CashOut

Again, the voiceover is nonexistent! Win!

I also like the fact that the music is cool and not twee, plus the guy in the video is not punchable.

Uber

The concept is switched; not how good is this product but what problems already exist in the market.

The central truth, that everybody hates conference calls, isn’t shied away from.

New Relic

The voiceover is the right side of quirky and the pitch is friendly, not cloying or schill-y.

It also pitches to the correct audience, duh!

Bebo

The concept is possibly too rude, but the script and performance are undeniably funny.

Flexminder

The subject is niche, but the animation helps the viewer concentrate.

The tone of the voiceover is just right and the production looks cost effective, taking time rather than money to do the stop motion.

Ben Davis

Published 7 January, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (12)

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Abraham Moreno

Hi Ben, I just wanted to say thanks for featuring a couple of our (Epipheo) videos in this article. It's an honor.

There are a lot of people here working hard, behind the scenes to create content that will not just relay information but that will create an epiphany. It's great to have people like yourself pick that up and notice the difference. Thanks!

over 2 years ago

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john

Nice list. Clarity has posted a video article with some tips on creating a great explainer video: http://www.claritycomms.com/video.html

over 2 years ago

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Kaveen Sujanani

Some great videos here! Awesome list! Especially from Epipheo, we're big fans. I hope some of our videos make your next list!

http://www.explaininja.com

Cheers

over 2 years ago

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Jason Ed

Great article Ben, you posted a wide variation of explainer videos, each of which offer a unique way at approaching the target audience.
Feel free to check us out sometime as we tend to focus on the cartoon and characterized concepts.

http://explainmyvideo.com

Cheers!

over 2 years ago

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Dino Zee, Director at 1explainerVideo.com

Awesome post. Was a pleasure to read and hopefully the next article you do right might include us!

All The Best!

www.1explainervideo.com

over 2 years ago

Juan Mendez

Juan Mendez, Content Editor and Social Media Manager at Yum Yum Videos

This is an outstanding post, Ben! Congratulations.
An amazing sketch of the main trends and styles of the startup explainer video present (which is actually quite healthy).

At Yum Yum Videos we've just launched our very own Explainer Video eBook. Feel free to take a look at it and tell us what you think http://go.yumyumvideos.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-explainer-videos

Cheers!

about 2 years ago

Stephen Conley

Stephen Conley, Founder at www.Gisteo.com

Hi Ben,

This is a good list here. As a producer of explainer videos at Gisteo (www.Gisteo.com), I appreciate you taking the time to watch, critique and write about this topic!

The Bebo video is classic and should be at the very top of your list.

Gisteo also creates plenty of videos without voice overs so I'm a fan of those non-voice over examples you've cited.

Many of our clients have mentioned our own "Gisteo Guy" intro explaining what we do as the most creative, unique explainer from an explainer video production company out there...and, I cannot lie, it has been very effective so I wish it would have been included in your list.

https://vimeo.com/95455484

Maybe it's because 10 months have passed since you posted this, but I find a couple on your list to be completely trite and burned out- eg Instagram Direct. Perhaps it's not their fault that too many people have jumped on that "hipster" bandwagon in the past year or so, but this video now looks almost like a parody.

The Flexminder script is good but the voice over and execution are a bit too much on the homespun side for my taste.

FYI- the Uber link is no longer working.

almost 2 years ago

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Liz Verano, Virtual Assistant at Process Street

Hey Ben, these suggestions are awesome and enjoyable! I am currently using Bebo and Uber for short videos but you just gave some other ideas like Instagram Direct, CashOut, New Relic, and they are splendid! I can’t wait to create another explainer video for my upcoming project!

Here are some tricks on how to create startup video explainer: http://www.startupchile.org/how-to-diy-startup-explainer-video-for-under-300-that-still-looks-pro/

over 1 year ago

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hariharan Arunachalam, Animator at brandlovevideos

Thanks for the great post and we also into the same business and we created remarkable videos too @ reasonable price. To Know more visit us www.brandlovevideos.com

over 1 year ago

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Johnny Watts, Founder at Snappy Explainer Videos

Some very well designed videos here Ben! In fact it inspired me to write about the lessons you can learn from the top 5 explainer videos.... ever. You can read it here: http://goo.gl/hWA8Tv

about 1 year ago

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Marc Smith, Project Manager at The Cuillin Collective

No matter what your video is about, it needs production value (I'm mentioning this because of the inclusion of Flexminder). That wasn't a good explainer video. You might have the best script in the world but if it's not executed properly then the video will not do it's job. I only got 15 seconds into Flexminder before I gave up.

If the product is explained well and the production value high, the person watching it can then work out if they need your product/service or not. If they don't understand it or get to the end, 100% will not buy/sign up to your product or service!

As an explainer video producer who's been making them since 2009 I understand that some styles suit some companies better than others. Yes, some may think they're twee, but Hobbiton was twee and I still want to visit!
When making a video for a client we always listen to our clients thoughts. Yes, some are odd and we explain why we think they're odd. But they are their thoughts none the less and have to be listened to and acknowledge. The client knows their audience more than anyone so should be heard.

From what I've learned after making over 800 explainers is that there is no magic method. If you'd like to see our work then you can visit us at http://thecuillincollective.com/

about 1 year ago

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Jakub G, CEO at Verly

Hi Ben, what do you think about this one: https://vimeo.com/144900649

10 months ago

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