If you consider all the things that must come together to make your product or service successful, it can be overwhelming. Organizations large and small often need management, marketing, product design, engineering, support, accounting, branding, and so forth. It’s a lot to think about and inevitably some things fall through the cracks.

That said, there’s one thing you can’t afford to forget: understanding. Your product or service offering must be crystal clear to clients and prospects. Before they will buy, they need to understand the big idea and why it matters to them. The best design, engineering, marketing and branding won’t matter unless people can understand your product or service.

Unfortunately, understanding is often neglected. It’s easy to assume that people will “get it,” especially since your product or service is so well designed and engineered. When was the last time you asked, “Is this understandable?”

The key to overcoming this problem is explanation. Explanation is a strategic focus on communication that is designed to help the audience relate to an idea, product or service in a more understandable way. By working to explain a product or service, we can solve the understanding problem and get people prepared to adopt our ideas and products. Done well, explanation has the power to motivate and even create a competitive advantage.

Today, one of the most efficient and effective ways to explain an idea is with an animated explainer video. By combining simple visuals with a voiceover, it’s possible to create an experience that can’t be achieved with text, visuals or audio alone. Once a video is created and shared online, it can be used as a strategic part of your communications. Put it on your front page, add a link to the video from your newsletter, show it on your phone. Video is an always-on way to explain why your idea matters.

Since 2007 my company Common Craft has worked with the world’s most respected companies on this exact problem. Whether it’s LEGO, Intel, Ford, Google or Dropbox, the goal is always the same: create an experience that helps the audience understand the idea or product.

These projects can take many forms. Our work with Intel has been mostly focused on internal communication. They’ve used explainer videos to make their world of compensation and benefits more understandable so employees can make smarter decisions. These videos are shared on the front page of the Intel Intranet and in meetings.

Our work with Dropbox was focused on a short video for the front page of That explainer video was displayed for 3.5 years and earned over 30 million views because it made Dropbox understandable in about two minutes. Over that time, Dropbox grew from 2 million to over 100 million users.

Of course, you don’t have to be a huge company to see the benefits. Startups and small businesses everywhere are using explainer videos to make their apps, websites and services understandable to their audience. Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform, encourages every new project to include a video and says that projects that use video have a better rate of funding 50% vs. 30%.

Explainer videos are not unique to a specific type of business or idea because the need for understanding is universal: small, large, internal, external. Everyone wants easier ways to understand complex ideas and today, explainer videos are making their mark.


About the Author

Lee Lefever of Common Craft

Lee LeFever is the founder of Common Craft, whose video explanations have been viewed tens of millions of times online and have established the explainer video industry. He can be found on Twitter @leelefever.

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Lee is also the author of The Art of Explanation – Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easy to Understand.