Branding , Digital , Video , Creative , Associations

Re-Animated: How Animation Keeps Association Brands Alive During the Pandemic

Josh Golden

In times when proximity brings peril, and live-action filming is both tricky and costly, associations have turned to animation to keep their brand narratives moving.

Bidets. Yeast. Sweatpants. Some products have become endemic to pandemic. And it makes sense, as each solves a problem. So, it’s no wonder that while we Zoom through our day-to-day, video has become something of a salve. In times when proximity brings peril, and live-action filming is both tricky and costly, associations have turned to animation to keep their brand narratives moving. Animation has become as much a part of our quarantine as banana bread.

Unrestricted Movement

While locked down, life still goes on. Stories still need telling—and often with more urgency than before. Video remains a potent tool to reach members, but filming has become difficult, if not dangerous and costly. As associations fight to retain their relevance despite canceled conventions and limited in-person service, animation provides a safe way to reach members. This is the time to build brands into something that are not just useful, but essential.

Animation can deliver education, instruction, or a reminder of why you exist in the first place. In fact, associations may have their most captive audience ever (literally), and can use the opportunity to reassert their value. People are locked down; animation is a way to keep the brand moving.

Emotion in Motion

Brands have only recently begun to recognize that “cartoons” aren’t for kids. With the right form, movement, rhythm, words, and music, animation can really move audiences. And animated products need not be any less human than live-action video. Brand manifesto videos have seen a resurgence among businesses. Associations, too, can answer an existential challenge by taking this time to restate their purpose.

Animation is limited only by imagination, so the stories we tell can be as powerful as the images we create. What better time than now to give audiences something new to believe?

A Cast of a Different Color

There has been a deepening sense of the breadth of human experience and, therefore, a true desire for association videos to depict a more diverse world. This has been a challenge, as associations wrestle with a more meaningful approach to showing the inclusion they are determined to create.

Animation has a unique ability to include everyone. A cautionary note, though—just painting people purple does not make inclusion. Animators, and the animations they create, have an opportunity to depict all humans and capture the richness of human experience without a lavish budget. Through animation, we can reflect the world not only as it is, but as it should be.

Touchless Tactics

Have you noticed as you binge any show filmed prior to March 2020 that you recoil at the most basic human interaction? Handshakes seem cavalier. Hugging, downright reckless. Ah, those frivolous days from the Time Before when the Close Talker was comedy, not horror!

Animation seems to soften the unintended consequences of human interaction. The characters don’t touch, the pixels do, and digital viruses have become somehow less scary. Truth is, the world of animation opens up so many storytelling opportunities that physical interaction need not exist at all. Infographics, kinetic type, motion graphics: all bring narratives to life in ways that feel much more palatable right now. 

Maintaining Control

With so much out of our daily control, the process of animation gives association marketers back some much-needed dominion over the end product. Through moodboards, character sketches, style-frames, storyboards, motion tests, and animatics, association clients can see each step of the creation, weigh in, and be more assured of the end product.

This is refreshing, given the sense of helplessness we’ve all been experiencing. In addition to eliminating travel to film sets and providing the ability to RFH (review from home), animation becomes something of a cure for pandemic powerlessness.

As we learn to address the challenges of our new virtual reality, animation has become a viable solution. Animated videos can amplify brands on association websites;  reach members with new educational insights and resources; convey thought leadership; and augment the growing world of online events. 

While COVID-19 has constrained us, animation has allowed associations to be much more flexible. As flexible as, well, sweatpants!

Yes& is the Washington, DC-based marketing agency that brings commercial, association, and government clients the unlimited power of “&” – using a full suite of branding, digital, event, marketing, public relations, and creative capabilities to deliver meaningful and measurable results.

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Josh Golden
Josh Golden
VP, Senior Creative Director