What is Motion Graphics? – The Complete Guide

Everyone, including your customers, likes to be entertained! One of the ways you can engage and entertain them is by using motion graphics — these are pieces of animation that include copy and often audio in order to convey information or tell a story. 

They offer great ways to communicate complicated information in an engaging way! In this article, I’m going to talk about what motion graphics are, why they’re so effective, and how you can use them in your business.

What is the definition of a motion graphic?

Think of motion graphics as an animated style of graphic design. Usually, they feature text and sound to convey a message of some sort. The main difference between motion graphics and videos is that motion graphics do not use live-action footage. 

Motion graphics are used to explain concepts, introduce movies, create awareness, improve branding, tell stories, give product overviews, and so much more. You can use them for your business in so many different ways!

Because they’re so versatile, you’ve likely seen them all over the place. Take a look at how Nike and Not Real used motion graphics to promote their new Gumball Pack shoes. The video is fun, colorful, and exciting — just like the shoes are!

sports shoe displayed on bubblegum pink graphic background

On the other hand, the title sequence for HBO’s True Detective features bleak landscapes, dark typography, and intense imagery. It’s perfectly reflective of the show, which is full of complicated characters and toxic stories.

black and white image of man with cityscape pictured in front of him

How do motion graphics differ from animations? 

In short, motion graphics are animations, but not all animations are motion graphics.

Animation is an umbrella term for a lot of different video elements, including cartoons, claymation, and motion graphics. There is some overlap, but motion graphics are typically more graphic design-focused, feature moving text, and are more informational rather than narrative.

What are the benefits of using motion graphics?

Using motion graphics is a great way to change up your content marketing strategy! There are lots of benefits to utilizing motion graphics, so let’s take a look at some of them. 

They allow you to inject your branding into your videos

Motion graphics offer an easy way to inject an element of branding into your video content. With the right colors, fonts, and graphics, you can ensure that customers instantly recognize that a video has come from your brand.

Take a look at how La Effe, an Italian broadcasting network, showcased their network rebranding using motion graphics. They wanted to set themselves apart from other SKY channels, and succeeded in doing this with their new designs! The video incorporates themes of high-end art, storytelling, and eye-catching typography, with classic red, white, and black motifs. In a short video, you get an idea of the sophisticated and bold storytelling you can expect from the channel.

red and white magazine double page spread

Or, take a look at how the New York Times injects their branding into their videos with this short motion graphic that precedes them. The graphic features a series of colorful pieces of paper being unrolled into the NYT logo. With this short graphic, you’re shown that they tell a variety of unique stories, and you can trust them to unravel and get to the truth of the stories you’re interested in. Plus, there’s a paper sound that circles back to the company’s newspaper roots. 

multi-coloured New York Times letters displayed on solid black background

They can help you stand out among your competitors

The online space is becoming increasingly saturated, which means it’s harder to stand out than ever before. But visual content marketing can help with this, whatever industry you might be working in.

Motion graphics can help you to stand out from the crowd because you can make them as unique as your business. While live-action videos often look similar, motion graphics can be completely customized with different animation styles, colors, and your branding.

Think about what makes you different from others in your niche. Do you have certain services or a different brand voice that makes you stand out? Are you family-owned, or do you have a unique backstory? You could give a nod to details like this with your motion graphics.

They’ll make your video content more engaging

People like to be entertained — and that includes your customer base! A lot of businesses create different types of video content, so you need to get creative to help yours stand out. Small details make a big difference, and using motion graphics instead of standard text or infographics can help make your content more engaging. 

See how Looka, a logo design platform, incorporates motion graphics into their introductory video. This screenshot is a lot more intriguing than a standard bit of text, and it allows the company to show off what they’re capable of. The crystal ball design also conveys the idea of seeing into the future of your business, including how Looka could help you achieve your goals.

crystal ball with words 'design your own brand' seen on top of purple backdrop

Or take a look at how Google for Education masterfully outlines their products — in this video, they don’t even have to provide a voiceover, as the story is so well-told. In just a few short minutes, they outline all the different types of ways you can incorporate Google products into an education program using bright colors, text, and graphics. It’s no wonder they’re a master in their field!

6 people holding digital devices with a different section each

They can make your content more shareable

The more engaging your content is, the more likely people are going to want to share it — this is hugely important for your link-building and SEO efforts. 

If you’re not familiar with this area of marketing, backlink building is the process of securing links from high-quality, authoritative websites in your niche. When this happens, Google takes it as a vote of confidence in the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of your content and will give your rankings a boost.

In the examples I’ve provided above, think about what makes them shareable and linkable! They’re colorful and easy to understand, engaging, and breakdown information in a way that makes you want to view them. 

With Google’s example, they could have just created a short webpage with bullet points outlining how their products could be used in education. But, instead, they created an exciting video that draws people in and encourages them to share. Think about how you can make your videos sharable. Consider breaking down statistic-heavy data, or explain a concept with your motion graphics. 

How can you create great motion graphics for your videos? 

There are lots of ways to make sure the motion graphics you use in your videos are top-notch. Make sure they’re simple, reflect your branding, and have a goal in mind.

Make sure they reflect your branding

First things first: your motion graphics should reflect your brand. Branding is hugely important in marketing — like a person would, your brand should have its own distinct personality and traits that set it apart from other businesses. 

To ensure your motion graphics reflect your branding, use your usual colors, fonts, and styles.

Heineken beer does this very well with their campaign outlining their global brand story. Take a look at this snapshot from the video; it reflects the traditional green and red hues that normally adorn their bottles. Additionally, the map here reflects that they’re a global brand beloved across the world. Notice how they show this rather than tell this.

map of the world with multiple small bottles of Heineken positioned on top

Keep them simple

More often than not, simple motion graphics will be the most effective. You don’t need to put together the next Marvel movie, and you shouldn’t let your motion graphics dominate your content. You want them to be supporting material.

Think back to the Google example we used earlier. Notice how it gave an overview of their products in a helpful and easy-to-comprehend way. You don’t need to know about the Google education products in advance to understand the video content; the video tells you what you need to know to get started. This is able to happen because of the simplicity of the motion graphics — they don’t distract from the overall point of the video. 

Know your goal

Every motion graphic you create should have a goal behind it. In this article, we’ve shown motion graphics that work to introduce videos, to market particular products, to spread brand awareness, or to get someone to do something. To make your motion graphics effective, make sure your goal is clear and set in stone before you do any design work. No matter how long or how short your motion graphic is, each frame should have a goal in mind. 

You can get this right by planning ahead of time, as you would with any other piece of content. When you write an article for your blog, you know what your goal is behind your work, and the same should be true for your motion graphics.

Summary

Motion graphics offer a great way to help your brand stand out from the crowd. When used correctly, they can support your marketing efforts, improve your SEO, and build your backlink profile. 
When creating motion graphics, make sure to keep them simple, brand-relevant, and goal-oriented. You’ll be well on your way to making something great. If you need more help with the design aspect of your motion graphics, Twine has you covered. They have graphic designers for hire that can turn your brief into something great.

Alex Ratynski

Alex Ratynski

Alex Ratynski is the founder of Ratynski Digital, an online marketing consultancy that focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses achieve their goals. He set up his company after working as a local SEO director for a dental marketing agency, where he helped to turn clients’ ventures into thriving multi-million dollar businesses. He spends most hours strategizing SEO for his clients.