How We Found the Formula to Write The Best Explainer Videos

When we were still a startup newbie, we believed that what made an explainer video cool included flashy colors, smooth transitions, and a silvery narration voice.

We put most of our emphasis on the visuals since that’s what we were equipped for. The characters’ appearances and smooth transitions between scenes were our main focus for quite a while.

Until we realized that we’d overlooked something of great importance.


The script is the foundation–or the blueprint, if you will–for explainer videos, or any directed video, for that matter. Movies, vlogs, ads, you name it.

When a script is excellently written, the visuals are like ice cream toppings.

Like DropBox’s and Dollar Shave Club’s explainer video, which now have well beyond 20 million views.

A script isn’t that long of a text to begin with.

That’s the tricky part in making an explainer video script: the length. You have to compress a stack of ideas and supporting facts into a compact piece of writing.

It’s not everyday writing. An explainer video script must be as easy to understood when read out loud as it is when written down.

Before you begin to write your script’s draft, keep these few things in mind:

1. The problem you solve

Imagine your company produces a foldable baby stroller. What kind of problem could make a family think they need one? Maybe their car is too small for traveling with a normal-sized stroller.

Say your company manufactures an extremely durable DSLR camera. Why would any photographer want that? Maybe they are outdoor photographers who’ve dropped their cameras onto hard surfaces and broken them, whereas your product would have survived.

The problem statement is crucial for creating a relatable introduction in a script. The more specific the problems you solve, the stronger the bond you form with the more focused audience.

2. Target audience

The target audience or target market segmentation is a specific group of people who need or want your product.

Choosing the right target audience starts by determining what needs your product or service meets.

Who is most likely to use your product? As you answer this question, consider factors like age, buying power, geographical location, and marital status.

Take, for instance, a recent college graduate who has just started her first job. She will have needs that differ from those of a mother to four teenage children.

Or indoor and outdoor photographers. They need different types of lenses and different sets of gear.

Be as specific as possible when defining your target audience.

3. How you will solve the problems and why you are better

Let’s say you’re in an appliance store, looking to buy a blender to make fruit juice with a smoother texture than any you’ve had before.

A sales guy approaches you and says that blender A is what you’re looking for. You think, “How so?”, right?

And you expect answers like:

“It has blades made of ultra-sharp stainless steel,” or “it cuts at 5,000 rpm faster than other blenders.” You expect details that make you want that blender.

That’s how your audience thinks when they see your explainer video.

And that’s why you need to think as a customer, and write the script using that mindset as a reference.

4. Duration and script length

Bread n Beyond’s articles page has hundreds of articles. However, Google analytics always shows a significant spike from a particular article: How many words does a 60-second explainer video need?

Our sales team received lots of queries about how long a script and a video should be. To answer this question, we checked our YouTube video manager and took a look at the 20 most viewed videos on our channel.

The result is quite close to what we predicted.

When we reviewed 20 of the most viewed videos in our YouTube channel, 40% of them were 90–120 seconds long. The remaining 60% is split evenly between videos under 90 seconds long (30%) and above 120 seconds long (30%).

Out of the total 392,304 views we received from our top 20 videos, 79.8% were from videos between 90 and 120 seconds long. Videos under 90 seconds and above 120 seconds made up 4.9% and 15.3% respectively.

That’s why we suggest that your explainer video script should result in a 90-second video.

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Bread n Beyond’s video performance chart

Based on the last 50 explainer videos we made, the average script length for a 90-second video was 247 words.

Video length has other determining factors, such as language used, pauses, emphases, and the script tone.

Different languages require different speeds of pronunciation and different paces of reading for sounding as natural as possible.

Emphases can trigger certain emotional reactions from viewers and deliver the message precisely how it is meant to be delivered.

And a serious (or formal) tone generally will be slower than a casual tone due to the necessity of using proper and un-abbreviated words and phrases. Abbreviations such as “that’s,” ”it’s,” ”I’ve,” etc. should be pronounced as “that is,” “it is/it has,” and “I have,” in a script with a serious tone, and a large quantity of that results in longer time.

How can this information help me?

The essence of an explainer video is its ability to transfer an idea from the company’s side to the audience’s side. As Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

An explainer video is the visual representation of that quote. If you can make your audience understand your ideas, it means you’re an expert in that particular field.

Outsourcing your explainer video production means channeling your ideas to an agency and asking them visualize them for your audience.

Failing to explain everything to the agency can cause a chain of failures, which indirectly will make the final video less effective because the ideas behind it weren’t successfully communicated.

In conclusion, preparing your answers to the points mentioned above gives you a head start before you even begin reaching out to an explainer video agency.

Preparing your ideas for an animated explainer video is like soaking a potato in a warm water before peeling it. You don’t have to do it, but doing it is worth the effort you make.

Closing thought

Coming up with answers and a general overview about your company perhaps is as easy as pie. You might even know more than what your script needs.

But the real work begins when you (or whoever you hire) start picking which of those answers needs to be presented in the script and, more importantly, how they’re going to be presented.

This is why most (if not all) explainer video agencies will give you questionnaires that generally ask about the elements mentioned above.

The point is, no matter how skilled, pricey, or recommended an explainer video company is, the key lies in what the client’s side has and their willingness to be involved in the process.

An explainer video project requires teamwork. If you are well-prepared and willing to discuss ideas with an explainer video agency, you are much more likely to get an amazing video.

Originally published at on August 24, 2016.

Helping startups and business grow faster with explainer videos at

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