14 Types of Explainer Videos (With Examples)

Written by
Elly Henriksen
Published on
June 28, 2024
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All the different types of explainer videos out there have one thing in common: they want the viewer to walk away with knowledge.

It's the knowledge customers need before they sign up for a new program, confidently buy a new product, or even just share an idea with others.

This post will show you how to effectively get your point across and share valuable knowledge through compelling explainer videos.

Why explainer videos are so effective

Research demonstrates that customers respond astoundingly well to videos. 96% of buyers have watched an explainer video to learn more about how a product or service works before buying online, and 81% of businesses confirm that their explainer videos increased sales.

Did you know? 🤔

Explainer marketing videos are particularly effective in comparison to text-based marketing because our brains process and understand images 60,000 times faster than text.

Whether your business is big or small, investing in creating explainer videos will help you:

  • Show people what you do and how you can help them.
  • Build brand awareness and create a strong connection with your target audience.
  • Generate hype and drive traffic to your website or landing page.

Popular types of explainer videos (with examples)

There are many ways to frame knowledge in a memorable, easy-to-understand way. The choice of what type of explainer video to make should come down to what you want to explain and why you want to do it. Of course, a little bit of inspiration from some of the best explainer video examples out there should help you out.

1. AI explainer videos

AI videos are one of the most affordable and scaleable types of explainer videos you can make.

There are many ways AI can help you make a video, but the most popular is to go from idea all the way to video in just a few clicks.

The video maker Synthesia, for example, can generate a script broken down into video scenes, requiring minimal input — you'd only have to fill in details about the video's topic and audience. It also has plenty of pre-designed video templates to create an AI explainer video in minutes.

Here's how it works:

Discover Synthesia in 4 minutes | Product Tour

Synthesia uses AI text-to-speech technology along with AI avatars (digital doubles of real actors) and makes it super easy to create professional live-action explainer videos. You can include live-action footage or screencasts, translate scripts into 130+ languages, and use the library of stock music and footage to quickly pull together an effective explainer video without effort.

Check out this video example (which you can also duplicate and use as a template for your next video):

How to Achieve Financial Stability (AI Video Template)

Use this type of explainer video when you want to:

  • Teach a new idea or a new way of doing things.
  • Create talking head videos for landing pages without showing your face.
  • Explain a concept, service, or product for marketing purposes or internal comms.

2. Character-animated explainer videos

Animated explainer videos are a great option if you need to deliver a complex message in a short amount of time. They're also a good choice if you want to create a light-hearted, fun video in a unique style.

Character-driven animations are one of the most exciting types of explainer videos. They're easy for everyone to understand and make even the trickiest ideas memorable. Plus, the characters become our friends on screen. We root for them, laugh with them, and learn alongside them.

A traditional animation style for explainer videos is to use vector animation with clean, stylized characters.

To get a better sense of this type of video production, check out the following educational character animation. It's an explainer video example built around some classic key moments: it brings up a problem, reminds viewers just how big that problem is, and then introduces the ultimate solution/painkiller:

How to Get Things Done!

Use animated explainer videos when you want to:

  • Teach a new idea or a new way of doing things.
  • Perform well on social media.
  • Turn your explainer into a video ad.
  • Launch a new company, feature, or service.

3. Live-action explainer videos

Live-action explainer videos are a good choice if you want your video to feel more personal and relatable.

Often, live-action videos show products or services in action — a presenter uses the product while being filmed from different angles. In more educational videos or digital products and services, you must include a screencast video to illustrate a task or the actual product/service walkthrough.

This type of explainer video is a popular way to launch a startup or a service. Take a look at how all these unfold in Allbirds' live-action video example below:

Meet The Wool Runners

Use a live-action explainer video when you want to:

  • Perform well on social media.
  • Turn your explainer into a video ad or promo video.
  • Launch a new company, feature, or service.

4. Whiteboard animation explainer video

A whiteboard animation video can be an effective way to communicate complex information. Because many small agencies produce them and less animation work is involved, these animated videos can be cheaper to create while still maintaining the explanatory power of animation.

Here's a great animated explainer video example from one of the original whiteboard animation agencies:

CollegeInvest - 529 College Savings

Use the whiteboard videos when you want to:

  • Build trust with investors and potential customers.
  • Lean into a down-to-earth brand persona.
  • Launch a new product or service.
  • Develop more emotional connections.

5. Screencast explainer video

Screencast explainer videos are a straightforward, highly effective way to guide viewers through digital processes. You can create such videos for users at all levels to illustrate just about any online action or series of steps. They're also one of the most affordable types of explainer videos.

All it takes is recording your screen while going through the process you want to explain. You can even talk through the steps you're taking and why. That's your screencast explainer video done!

Viewers can pause or playback the explainer video to review it as often as needed. Check out the screencast tutorial below that teaches how to set up an "Out of Office" auto-reply in Gmail:

Free Template: Out of the office responder in Gmail

Create screencast explainer videos when you want to:

  • Demo a product.
  • Create a detailed tutorial or how-to videos.
  • Explain how to complete a specific task.

6. Timeline explainer video

A timeline explainer video walks viewers through your company's development history, goals, KPIs, or product development.

Timeline explainer videos can include elements such as live-action video recaps, snippets, marketing video releases, and animation or motion graphics segments. They're versatile in application and easy to tailor for marketing and internal communications.

Here's a video walking you through an easy-to-use timeline explainer template. You can duplicate the template here.

Timeline Explainer Video Template (Fully customizable)

Use this explainer video type when you want to:

  • Pitch to investors.
  • Build trust with your target audience, customers, and investors.
  • Show employees how your company has improved over time.

7. 2D animation explainer video

An animated explainer video in the 2D cartoon style has a simple but effective way of describing a use case so the audience can quickly understand. Instead of talking about product or service features, they dive straight into the offer's practical benefits.

In the animated explainer video example below, the animations quickly bring benefits to life, making the video feel more like a cartoon than a dry demo. Check out how this video uses a classic story formula called "Meet Jane/John" to explain complex processes in an easy-to-understand way.

How To Choose The Right Insurance Plan — Animated Explainer Video | Epipheo

Use 2D animated videos when you want to:

  • Connect with a specific target audience.
  • Explain your product function in a format similar to how-to videos for a less technical audience.
  • Promote a particular use case of your product or service.

8. Product demo explainer videos

If you frequently sign up for new online software, you've likely watched hundreds of product demos already. They're typically motion graphics explainers or screencast videos that walk users through a product's interface, often adopting a "how-to" angle.

Watch this example from Monday.com to see how a good demo uses bits of relevant information to effectively explain a product's functions, key features, and benefits.

monday.com - Making teamwork click

Use a product demo explainer video when you want to:

  • Explain a complex concept (frequently used by tech companies).
  • Show users what a product or service looks like post-purchase.
  • You need a more polished version of a screencast video that can be used for marketing purposes.

9. Company culture explainer videos

These types of explainer videos explain to audiences why a company is a great cultural fit for them. They work best on your website's "about" page. As a short professional video, they focus on your company values, why you're better than the competition, and how you've helped customers in the past.

"Why us" explainer videos that emphasize cultural values can include use cases, customer testimonials, and even live-action video footage from offices. This boosts trust among potential customers, introducing the business as trustworthy.

The two examples of explainer videos below show vastly different approaches. But notice that they're both insightful and inspirational company culture videos.

Dropbox uses animation and humor to build connections.

Working at Dropbox

Founders Brewing Co's live-action explainer video uses inspirational storytelling to drive the message home.

Founders Brewing Co.: The Story

Use company culture explainer videos when you want to:

  • Build trust with potential and new customers.
  • Increase website conversions, specifically if you're a B2B company.

10. Internal communications explainer video

Numbers and statistics can be powerful tools that unite teams, concentrate results, and prioritize logic over emotions.

For about 80% of employees, communicating this type of data or relevant work info is more important than office perks! And the larger your company, the more you'll need to share such numbers among departments.

This is where explainer videos for internal communications come into play. You can use AI-generated videos from plain text or screencast videos that show the audience the numbers straight from your analytics software.

Check out this internal communications video that explains a product's release updates to the sales team:

Product Release: Sales Enablement (AI Video Template)

Use this explainer video type when you want to:

  • Communicate important milestones & KPIs to employees, investors, and customers.
  • Clear up any mix-ups or wrong info floating around in the company.

11. Cutout animation explainer videos

These animated explainer videos use flat characters and objects cut from materials like paper, fabric, or photographs to bring stories to life in a visually unique and textured manner. The result is a playful, sophisticated aesthetic that engages audiences because it looks so different from what they're used to seeing.

To get a feel for this type of explainer video, watch the example below:

Preview your final output on the next page

NZ Book Council - Going West

"Going West" by the New Zealand Book Council is an animated video that transforms a book's pages into a vivid, moving landscape. As the story unfolds, you're drawn into a world where words literally leap off the page.

These explainer videos work best when you want to:

  • Tell stories in a creative way that captures attention.
  • Create engaging content with a fresh, dynamic approach.

12. Kinetic typography explainer videos

Kinetic typography is a subset of animated explainer videos that uses text movement to express ideas, emotions, and narratives. Such videos make the written word visually dynamic. The technique captivates audiences in a rhythmic and engaging experience, and it's great for when your explainer video needs to deliver a powerful message.

But you don't have to make animated explainer videos with words that jump on the screen nonstop. Instead, you can create a motion graphics explainer video in which you use kinetic typography only when you want to enhance the narration with some visual cues and in conjunction with other animated elements.

Check out the award-winning kinetic typography video on "Curiosity" below.

Student Design Awards Winner - Curiosity: Kinetic Typography

This dynamic flow of text engages viewers and visually represents the intertwining of facts, questions, and the endless pursuit of knowledge.

Use this explainer video type when you want to:

  • Enhance your explainers with dynamic text animations.
  • Create visuals of the narration on topics that are hard to illustrate with actual images.

13. Stop motion explainer videos

This type of animation brings inanimate objects to life frame by frame. It offers a tactile and charming quality that digital animation can't replicate, capturing attention and creating a sense of wonder.

Perfect for storytelling, stop motion conveys messages with a warm, handcrafted feel that audiences enjoy and resonate with.

"Back to the Start" by Chipotle is an explainer video that shows a farmer's journey to sustainable practices. The message encourages returning to simpler, more ethical practices, and the execution perfectly syncs with the idea of simplicity.

Chipotle - Back to the Start

Use this explainer video type when you want to:

  • Present your message with a personal, handcrafted touch that draws viewers in.
  • Stand out with visually captivating storytelling that differentiates your brand.

14. VR/360 explainer videos

A good explainer video offers an immersive experience. Virtual reality videos are great for immersing viewers directly into a digital environment. They can instantly take you to the heart of a story or location in a three-dimensional space. Aside from captivating with its novelty, this technology enhances understanding and empathy by providing a firsthand perspective of the subject.

TOMS' virtual trip to Peru shows customers the impact of their shoe donation program firsthand.

In store virtual reality with Toms

By using VR technology, TOMS educates viewers about their mission while creating a powerful emotional connection.

Use this explainer video type when you want to:

  • Deeply engage viewers with an immersive, firsthand experience of your story.
  • Stand out with cutting-edge visual storytelling techniques.
  • Foster empathy and understanding by bringing viewers closer to your cause.

So, what explainer video style will you choose?

Now that you know what video styles and explainer video types exist and have seen some pretty amazing examples, are you ready to create your own?

Synthesia is a text to video tool that can help you create a live-action video from a simple script. To see how it works, try this free AI video generator. It will create an entire video for you in just a few clicks.


Frequently asked questions