By Andrew Angus on October 31, 2013

“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.”

– Walt Disney

Walt Disney knew what he was talking about, and his words are more true now than they’ve ever been. The only language that everyone can understand is the language of pictures.

This explains the success of sites like Youtube, which is now the second most used search engine in the world and receives more than 1 billion unique visitors per month and over 4 billion hours of video watched monthly with 70% of traffic coming from outside the U.S.

Due to the universal language of images, video has become one of the most important tools we can invest in. Our hyper-connected world makes it possible for how-to videos made by someone in England to instantly be watched by someone in China, and visa versa. Online video is huge, and it’s only going to get bigger.

Disney movies, for example, are loved by people all over the world and watched in nearly every language. Since so much can be conveyed through imagery, language barriers can be broken down with animation and images.

And this is one of the things that makes animated explainer videos so great—they appeal to everyone. Explainer videos give your information the best chance to reach and be understood by the most people. When you’re trying to reach the largest audience possible, video and animation is the way to go.

Although we do admit that words are amazing, and important, they just don’t have the universal appeal that video has. Stories told about Syria or other conflicts can’t compare to video showing rockets flying, bombs exploding, and the unfortunate impact on the people affected. Even if you don’t understand the language of a news broadcast about a war, you’ll still be drawn in by a live scene with the sound of gunfire and rockets exploding in the background.

While words have their place and are important, video communicates on a level that words alone can never do. They bring concepts to life and appeal to both our auditory and visual senses (which also helps us retain more information as proven by the brain science of video which we pay a lot of attention to here at Switch).

This has become more and more true in the global marketplace we live in today. Companies are no longer marketing to customers that live in the same city. Startups are selling to clients in multiple languages, and multinationals are marketing to customers in every geographic area imaginable. When people share your videos online, social networks make them immediately viewable by people all over the world. A marketing video that’s intended for a North American audience has just as much chance to be seen by someone in Shanghai as it does in Chicago.

The power of explainer videos is that they help to break through language barriers and explain concepts in the most simple and effective way. Whether you’re trying to reach a multinational audience or not, images plus spoken words will communicate your message in the most universally understandable way possible. Anything that can’t be communicated in images can be spoken and anything that can’t be spoken can be animated. The universal language of images makes explainer videos a very powerful tool for any business.

This short quote by Barbara Green helps to summarize the power of images in communication:

“If you tell me, it’s an essay. If you show me, it’s a story.” —Barbara Greene

When it comes to your marketing, we encourage you to write less essays and tell more stories. Our clients have been happy that they did.

We’ve made over 350 videos for 275+ companies in 15 different languages. Get in touch if you’re interested in an explainer video that will appeal to the largest audience possible.
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