Have you ever seen those videos that look as if someone was drawing a story on a whiteboard while explaining something? This style of video is called “whiteboard animation”, and if you aren’t aware of their potential, then you’re in for a ride!

Whiteboard animation videos are pieces that mimic an artist drawing on a board in front of a camera. In the beginning, people actually used real whiteboards and markers, but today it’s usually done using digital animation, which makes the process cleaner and more efficient.

black and white donut drawing
There are many tasty things you can draw in black and white, such as these donuts by zaynab zemmouri

But, what makes this style of video so powerful? Whiteboard animations make messages easier to understand and retain. And yes, that includes your marketing message as well. They are said to have a high educational potential, which makes them ideal to get complex ideas across to your audience.

It’s a format that is proven to be useful for companies that need to explain highly technical products or services. It also comes in handy when you need to cover a lot of information in a short amount of time.

That said, while appealing to companies due to their educational power, there are more than a few things you should know before you start doodling on whiteboards. So, take a couple of minutes and read through the tips below. Your video will be that much stronger because of it!

1. Never start without a script

The first step in the creation of any animated piece is writing a script. The script is the backbone of any video, and it will make all the subsequent steps (storyboard, illustration, animation…) much easier.

black and white drawing with a technologic theme
Black and white drawings can be simple or they can be intricate, like this one by Andrea Carrot.

Your script must have a solid structure (a beginning, a middle, and an end) and the information should be distributed in a strategic way.

A good rule of thumb is to assign the three basic parts of the narrative to cover the questions what, how and why.

  • What: Tell your audience what specific problem your product solves.
  • How: Describe how it solves it.
  • Why: Explain why your product is the best alternative in the market.

When writing a whiteboard video script, remember to keep it educational. You’re explaining and teaching, instead of just selling. The special thing about whiteboard videos is that you get to take complex concepts and break them down into bite-sized pieces that are easier to absorb.

2. Then comes the storyboard

After you’ve finished with your script, it’s time to start creating your storyboard.

A storyboard should show all the essential scenes of your video so that the process gets easier for illustrators, animators, voice over artists (and basically everyone else involved in the project).

You can think of it like a draft for the illustrations, or you can actually design the screens and pair each one with their respective part of the script. Choose the way that works best with your animation team, but never skip the storyboard!

whiteboard animation screenshot
Here’s what your storyboard could look like. Via YumYum.

3. Remember the three hallmarks of a whiteboard video

The magic of whiteboard animation videos is created by combining its three main elements: the whiteboard, a continuous drawing, and the drawing hand.

  • The white part in whiteboard is essential in order to help the message come through, so don’t try using different backgrounds. If you reaaaally need to use another background, maybe try another format, like cartoon animated explainer videos!
  • When the drawing is interconnected, it helps your audience follow the visual narrative, while reinforcing the idea that it’s an artist who’s scribbling on a whiteboard. It makes your story continuous and cohesive.
  • No drawing (or whiteboard animation) is complete without a drawing hand! It just puts everything together. If you don’t include a drawing hand, your video is just a regular animated video, not a whiteboard one.
whiteboard animation screenshot
A white background, a hand and continuous drawing, that’s all you need. Via YumYum.

Of course, there are many other things you can innovate with. You can get creative with the drawing style, you can create characters that look like your audience, and you can even add some color (strategically) to your black and white drawing. But having the three elements above is essential for a good whiteboard animation.

4. Include elements that boost brand awareness

Does your whiteboard animation have to be black and white, with a classic structure and nothing else? Not necessarily! Sure, you need to stick to some aesthetic rules, but you can have fun with it, too.

Especially if your fun elements are calculated to boost your brand awareness. Add some color! Use the visual elements that make your brand recognizable—your brand colors, logo or even sounds! Take a look at this example, in which the brand’s logo is part of the video’s visual narrative:

Via Yum Yum Videos

5. Make your target audience feel connected to your brand

Including your audience in your narrative is a great trick to help animated marketing videos perform exceptionally well. And it can come in particularly handy as an extra layer of customization in your whiteboard animation videos.

black and white drawing featuring cute little monsters
Not all your characters need to be humans! Look at these adorable dolls by brightshine

A great way of doing this is to create characters inspired by your buyers’ personas, representing your audience so they can recognize themselves in your video.

If you create characters that are visual representations of your audience, you’re helping your message resonate with your viewers, which will give your finished video more impact.

6. Keep it short and sweet

People in online spaces usually have short attention spans and are always multitasking. Just look at your screen right now, how many tabs or apps do you have open? Are you really paying attention to your messages, emails, social media accounts and that article that you’re reading (this one, I suppose) all at once?

Chances are that you are not completely focused on everything at the same time. That’s why it’s so important to capture your audience’s attention from the very beginning, and keep it ‘til the end.

If you make a short whiteboard video, chances are higher that you’ll keep your audience’s attention all the way through. Actually, the best thing you can do is to keep the length of your video between 60 and 90 seconds. That’s enough to communicate an interesting message and maintain their undivided attention.

whiteboard animation screenshot
Keep it short and sweet! Via YumYum.

Still, remember that people are only going to watch the first 10 to 15 seconds of your whiteboard video before they decide if they’re going to watch the whole piece or not. Which is why you need to forget suspense (leave that to Hollywood!) and communicate the most important message upfront, at the very beginning. And try to communicate it in a way that makes them want to know more!

7. Focus on quality

Marketing videos, no matter what kind, are the best way to communicate your brand’s messages to the world. They represent your brand’s interests, so they must always aim for the highest quality.

It may sound harsh, but in the customer’s minds bad quality content equal bad quality products or brands. On the other hand, a brand that has high standards when it comes to its content is regarded as reliable and trustworthy.

It’s science. Behavioral science.

whiteboard animation screenshot
Make sure your whiteboard animation meets the highest standards. Via YumYum.

So make sure you produce high quality whiteboard illustrations and animations for your company. If you don’t have the necessary skills, that’s perfectly fine too—there are lots of tools and companies out there that can help you out with animations and video production.

Ready to make your whiteboard video?

Let’s wrap it up! Whiteboard animations work great when you need to educate your audience because they help communicate messages in a simple and visually interesting way.

  • These videos help communicate any kind of concept, no matter how complex
  • They use the power of storytelling, paired with unconventional graphics to make it visually appealing
  • They use animated characters, shaped after your buyer personas, to unify the story and give the video a special human touch.

And now you’re ready to start creating your own whiteboard animation videos. Get your markers out and start doodling!

About the author

Victor Blasco is an audiovisual designer, video marketing expert and founder & CEO of the explainer video company Yum Yum Videos. Besides running the business, he’s a lifelong student of Chinese philosophy and a passionate geek for all things sci-fi.