You use video to stand out with your marketing, so why would you follow the same design trends as every other brand?
We’ve gathered examples of cutting-edge video designs that the most innovative companies are using on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’ll walk through what not to do, and what will make your videos look great. For every tired design, we’ll show you how to swap in a fresh look for all of your marketing video needs.
Everyone’s doing: Reaction Gifs
In 2017 the .Gif turned 30.
Some of the best iterations to come out of those fruitful years are reaction GIFs. Reaction GIFS are the internet’s answer to “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Reaction GIFs say it best, whether you’re replying to a message, shutting down haters on Twitter, or compiling a list.
And yet, it’s hard to find a brand online that hasn’t tried to capitalize on reaction GIFs one way or another. It can be hard to tell which GIFs are ads, and which are not. Case in point: The above GIF of Stranger Things‘s Millie Bobby Brown is an ad for Converse.
Some reaction GIFs are cringeworthy; others are just unoriginal. By reposting this reaction GIF on Twitter, Tinder is adding very little to conversations with its followers.
Happy #NationalHighFiveDay everyone. pic.twitter.com/lcr5CFvYPn
— Tinder (@Tinder) April 19, 2018
We think it might be time to move on.
Try this new trend instead: cinemagraphs
GIFs have proven their staying power, but there’s plenty of room to iterate on the trend of moving images. Cinemagraphs take the dynamic power of a quick, looping image in a new direction, capturing viewers’ attention with the element of surprise.
Cinemagraphs are far more subtle than reaction GIFs, and often quite beautiful. They are made by layering an image over video footage so that only one area of the frame shows motion. The eye is immediately drawn to one or two moving elements onscreen, making it a perfect format for marketing a product or highlighting a certain action.
Cinemagraphs can be super simple, like this post from Starbucks Canada:
3 DAYS LEFT OF TREAT RECEIPT! Bring in your same day receipt after 2PM to get a Grande Frappuccino for just $3. (until Sept 4) pic.twitter.com/97CadiWiVd
— Starbucks Canada (@StarbucksCanada) September 2, 2017
Cinemagraphs are so visually interesting that they can positively impact engagement. According to Creative Market, visitors to a web page “usually wait to watch the image loop a few times if they notice a cinemagraph. They also tend to over analyze other images to see if they too contain motion. It’s unbelievable, but a stay on a site can sometimes be extended 5-15% with something so simple.”
You can make your own cinemagraphs fairly quickly and easily. It helps to shoot footage with an HD camera (such as a DSLR) and use a tripod for stability. You can use Adobe After Effects to DIY your layers, or you can opt for a cinemagraph-specific tool like Flixel to help you turn still video footage into a cinemagraph in about five minutes.
Everyone’s doing: Line Drawing
Line drawings and iconized characters have been a steady design trend for several years now, especially for consumer tech companies based in New York and San Francisco. There’s a reason we all fell in love with this kind of branding: It’s minimalist, uniform, and leaves you with lots of warm fuzzies.
You might recognize it in this Casper ad:
Or Nextdoor’s product intro:
The main problem with this style is its popularity: When everyone follows the same style, it’s hard to tell what’s being advertised beyond cute characters and a lot of white space. It’s also very abstract. Casper sells mattresses, which doesn’t necessarily connect with cartoons. Instead of cute and quirky, these drawings can come across as conformist and confusing.
Try this trend instead: illustrations + photos
If you love using illustrations in videos (and who doesn’t really?), try combining photographs and illustrations in your next video ad. It will ground your videos in reality, showing physical products with greater clarity while still adding a touch of whimsy.
For an Instagram post, SkinnyPop photographed a crazy sandwich of its popcorn chips layered with various toppings. While a static photo post of the sandwich might perform on Instagram, it also might get lost among tons of other foodie pictures. The animated illustrations give people a reason to linger over the video to find out what’s inside the sandwich.
To create a similar effect, you can draw on a photo or video using the brush tool and layers in Photoshop.
Everyone’s doing: Normal Captions
Captions are a powerful tool for video, and if the choice is between captions or no captions, then, by all means, include captions! Captions add context, clarify your message, improve video SEO, and make your video more accessible.
Captions make this America’s Test Kitchen video post about a DIY wine hack more impactful by explaining the how-to steps as the actor goes through the actions on-screen:
In a short (and often silent) video, text is vital for getting to the point. However, now that captions are becoming standard across video platforms, you might want to think about ways to use text more creatively.
Try this trend instead: Dynamic Text
We’re only beginning to see the many, many different ways brands can use text in video, without losing the ability to communicate clearly.
British e-commerce brand Soda posts quotes using a creative text format on its Instagram every week:
Each quote is the centerpiece of its own short video. The quotes are relevant to brand values, pop culture, or news events, and stand out in the feed for their simple design that is reminiscent of a speech bubble. The distinctive spinning lettering is a great way to make the quotes visually interesting and add branding without distracting from the punchy copy.
Everyone’s doing: Color Palettes
Most companies have official brand colors and color palettes, determined by a brand designer and approved by executives. Color palettes do more than make your site and content look pretty; they communicate your mission and values, set the mood for your messaging, and provoke unconscious emotional reactions in your viewers. In recent history, palettes have trended toward the overly simple — think Facebook’s blue and white, or Medium’s black, green and white.
In Facebook’s recent TV campaign, they want to show that they are a serious and responsible custodian of relationships. But not every video carries the same heft — and sometimes you want to say something different.
Try this trend instead: a broad range of brand colors
Slack takes a more liberal approach to its brand colors, and as a result, its videos stand out on social and on the company website. While you can see the colors from the Slack logo in this video about changing the way work happens, you can also see tons of new shades and color variations.
The colors don’t necessarily mesh harmoniously, but for a video about change, the bright, bold choices work.
If you’re weary of using the same colors over and over again, test a radical color change with your audience — chances are, you’ll get a reaction either way.
Take risks to stand out
Taking risks with design is a safe bet in the world of social media video. Since you’re not investing in huge billboards or TV spots, you can experiment with every new trend until you a design tactic that works for you. Think of each video as a small test with your audience. There’s so much content out there, so if it falls flat, you can just move on to the next one. It will have a low impact if it fails, but high potential if it resonates.
The best way to stand out with design is to do what no one else is doing. So go after your crazy ideas! You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
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