October 25, 2021

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How to Make Animated Videos That Can Promote Corporate Diversity and Inclusion

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According to a McKinsey & Company report, the relationship between diverse teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened. And although there’s a consensus that a unique blend of ideas and perspectives has plenty of benefits, there are still businesses that haven’t gotten aboard the diversity train.

2021 report reflects this idea, as the sample size of Fortune 500 companies publishing data on diversity and inclusion has been considerably small. In 2020, 256 out of the Fortune 500 published some sort of racial and ethnic data, but only 22 of these companies actually published a detailed breakdown of the percentage of minorities they employed in four major categories: Black, Hispanic, Asian and other.

Related: Why You Need Diversity on Your Team, and 8 Ways to Build It

So, if we want to get corporations on the same page when it comes to diversity and inclusion, then we have to promote the idea. And animated videos are just the ticket. We know that video is the best medium to keep brands top of mind, and if you’re going to promote inclusion, then using animation — a method that’s flexible and diverse — makes sense.

Animation is scalable and flexible

An animated video is scalable if it uses illustrations that have been converted into shapes in After Effects. For example, a 1920 X 1080 video can be converted into 4K with ease. This makes the medium very convenient.

In addition, there is flexibility in terms of how you can use the illustrations in your video as well. You could easily repurpose your characters and feature them on your website, on social media or in other marketing material.

Different strokes for different folks

There’s something for everyone when it comes to animation. The most popular styles for businesses include 2D, isometric animation, 3D, whiteboard animation and cel animation.

Now in terms of content, you could show off diverse company cultures or highlight how an inclusive workforce can have a positive impact on the organization and the community.

And if you’re part of an organization that is already on the right track, you could create an animated video that reflects existing diversity, or the level of inclusion you aim to achieve. Doing so could help your organization gain some cultural capital, attract top talent and possibly customers as well.

Related: Unconventional Ways to Source Diverse Talent

But before you dive in and start your animated video project, it’s important to understand the nuances of creating content that aims to promote diversity. So, here are a few things you should consider:

1. Represent diversity with animated characters

An animated character generally has these ten key qualities, so when you create one, make sure that all these elements truly reflect the character as well:

  1. Identity
  2. Backstory
  3. Appearance
  4. Content of speech
  5. Manner of speaking
  6. Manner of gesturing
  7. Emotional dynamics
  8. Social interactions patterns
  9. Role 
  10. Role dynamics

2. Use appropriate skin tones and features for diverse characters

One thing that will truly represent a character’s diversity is its appearance. So, if you’re making a video to promote workplace diversity, then represent people with characters that have distinct features and skin tones. For inspiration, think of animated films like Disney’s Moana or Big Hero 6.  

3. Pay attention to the background

The background of an animated video is crucial. If designed with enough care, the environment can tie it all together and have a personality of its own. So, when you’re working on a storyline for your video and exploring character concepts, think about the setting.

For inspiration, take a look at the video game Ghost of Tsushima. It’s an example of top-of-the-line world building that’s grounded in reality.

4. Representation in voiceovers

Inclusion and diversity are hot topics in the entertainment industry, too. Today, you wouldn’t expect a casting director to hire a white person to play a Japanese character in a movie or TV show. Similarly, if your animated video has diverse characters, then it would make sense to hire people from relevant backgrounds to do their voiceovers.

5. Simplify your script

Your script can make or break the video, so it’s often best to keep things simple. Remove slang, colloquialism and culturally-laden terms so your script doesn’t alienate a diverse audience. If you use a very complex or conceptual script, non-native English speakers might find it difficult to relate to the video or its underlying message.

Pro tip: To make your video more accessible, add closed captions to reach out to the viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. And if you want to appeal to a more international audience, you could upload transcripts in different languages, too.

6. Include relevant elements

When using elements in an animated video, make sure they fit the context. Use them to add depth to your environment. Small details can make a huge difference.

7. Give active roles to marginalized groups

Give active and prominent roles to characters that represent marginalized groups. Additionally, be mindful of factors such as age and socioeconomic status. Your characters should reflect your target audience.

8. Tell everyone’s story

Black, white, brown, LGBTQ — everyone has a story worth telling. And animated videos can be a great platform to share these stories with the corporate world. This will show diverse teams that they are valued. In the long run, it will promote inclusivity by broadening people’s views.

Related: Inclusivity Is More Than Just a Buzzword; It Is the Future of a Healthy Global Economy

9. Give women equal prominence

Use animated female characters to highlight women’s value.  We know that wage disparity and harassment are still issues for women in the corporate sector, so share how positive change can be made and how it can impact an organization using animation. And remember, when you’ll practice what you preach, it will show in your creative work, too.

To sum up, animated videos give plenty of room for experimentation. If done well, you can successfully get your message to stick. Just be sure to approach the topic of diversity and inclusion with care and tact, regardless of the medium you choose.

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