Choosing Your Video Format and Design Style

The Ultimate Go-To Guide to Choosing Your Video Format and Design Style

Thibaut Dehem – Guest Expert | Sep 18, 2013

When it comes to creating an online video, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach. There are many different video formats and design styles to choose from. It’s an extremely important decision, because the success of your online video depends largely on its format and design style. Your audience will respond better to one style and format over another. You need to figure out what will resonate best with your audience. If you haven’t the slightest clue where to start, don’t worry. That’s what this article is for! We’re here to help guide you through the process of choosing the right format and design style for your video.

The Criteria For Choosing The Design Style Of Your Video

The choice of your video style depends on many criteria, such as:

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• The message you want to convey
• The purpose of the video: Do you want your video to educate, inspire, or entertain your audience?
• The supporting material: How are you planning on displaying your video? Online? On TV? On a screen in an office?
• The target audience: What do they respond to best?
• The visual identity of your organization: How does your organization express itself? What colors does it use to represent itself? Always remember that consistency is king when communicating your visual identity.

You can see that Coca-Cola brings forward its graphical identity by using red and white as the primary colors in their ads.

Think long and hard about each criterion and determine which design style best suits the entire video. For example, an informational video about depression wouldn’t work well with bright and cheerful colors and fast camera movement. Here are two great design style examples:

Everyone knows that Superman’s colors are red and blue. Have you noticed that the primary colors in this commercial are red and blue? The panning technique is used to suggest fast movement (just like Superman). The point of the design style of this commercial is to pump up the audience’s adrenaline (in order to get them to buy, buy, buy!)

This animated video covers a serious topic: health care. The color choices in this video are cool, conservative, and soothing, much like the colors you’d find at a hospital. The camera movement is slow, smooth, and predictable in order to assure the audience that the Health Web Events program is safe, gentle, and honest.

Live Action Videos Vs. Animated Videos

Having a hard time deciding on the medium of your video? Take a look at the above mentioned criteria; it should also be used while deciding on whether to use live action or animation. You also need to take into consideration the process of creating your video. Do you want to hire a film crew, rent film equipment, scout locations, and so on, or do you want to hire an animation team, come up with abstract ideas, build a storyboard, and so on?

Live Action Videos: What They Work For

Some types of videos that work best as live action are as follows:

• Client testimonials
• Factory visits
• Pure TV advertisements
• Charity videos
• Documentaries
• Corporate training videos
• Action & drama
• Event & conference

Pros of using a live action video:

• It’s easy to display emotion.
• You’re showing real content.
• You can easily make an impact on the audience with sincere and touching content.
• You can demonstrate a tangible product or service.
• It’s easy to connect with your audience (especially if you’re running a small business like a consulting firm or a restaurant).

Cons of using a live action video:

• You’re completely reliant on the talent of your actors.
• You have to use heavy equipment like cameras, lights, and sound equipment.
• You’re at the mercy of the weather and other external conditions beyond your control.
• Your video needs to be planned thoroughly in advance.
• There is a limit to your imagination. (For example, you can’t film a pig flying in the sky).

Animation Videos: When And How To Use Them

Some types of videos that work best animated are as follows:

• Product demos
• Software tutorials
• Financial results
• Presentation figures
• Company presentations
This is an example of an animated business video we made for one of our clients:

Pros of using an animated video:

• Your message is as powerful as you want it to be.
• You can explain your message in an extremely didactic manner.
• It’s easy to show abstract situations.
• Images that cannot be filmed in real life (such as a pig actually flying in the sky) can be animated.
• You can form ideas and images out of nothing.
• Animation is aesthetically pleasing.
• It’s a step away from reality.
• You can market a concept or a product in great detail.
• Your video is original and imaginative.
• You don’t need to haul around any heavy equipment.

Cons of using an animated video:

• You need to have or enlist a variety of serious talent to create a good animated video. (Design, animation, voice-over, for example).
• It’s difficult to find good animators.
• You don’t know what to expect until you have the final version in your hands.

Blended Video: Best Of Both Worlds?

If you have a hard time choosing between live action and animation, you can consider doing a blended video, which has both live action and animation in it. It’s common in big budget movies. Lord of the Rings is a good example, with Gollum, Shelob the giant spider, and the war elephants being 100% CGI-generated.

Some blended videos can also be referred to as “augmented reality”, which means scenarios where graphics and illustrations are added to real-world environments. Google Glass is a good example. The great thing about it is that it blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated.

Graphical Assets: Could Build Brand Awareness

What pictograms, icons, and illustrations is your audience most familiar with? It’s important to reflect on which graphical assets could help convey your message more clearly.

About Our Guest Expert – Thibaut Dehem
Thibaut Dehem is the Founder of, a platform for producing explainer videos for corporate communications. also provides tools to help structure a video message.

Source: The Ultimate Go-To Guide to Choosing Your Video Format and Design Style
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