5 Ways to level up your brand with 3D animation

By Nicole Bedard

Boosting brand engagement. Aligning your brand with visual trends while differentiating yourself in crowded spaces. Going above and beyond what seems visually possible. And giving you the single best tool for demonstrating the ins, outs and everything-in-betweens of a product. 3D animation is – and we sincerely mean this – amazing. 


But before we talk about your animated videos and how adding 3D to your toolkit can boost your brand, let’s talk about video games. Back in the day – like, way back – video games transported players to a flat, 2D world in which all manner of adventures, battles and epic princess rescues transpired. It was wild. And it was wicked different! Before that, kids were stuck in the real world throwing and kicking balls around outside and desperately trying to pass Go enough times to afford Boardwalk. (It was a sad time.) But, for how wild and wicked different they were when they came out, nowadays those 2D video games feel clunky and outdated compared to more immersive 3D gaming experiences. Retro games aren’t bad, exactly – they’re just not fully aligned with modern attention spans and engagement strategies.  

Today’s audiences expect more from their experiences than ever before. A blurry plumber dressed as a raccoon running around jumping on bad guys just doesn’t cut it anymore. Those old ways that previously had worked so well – and that goes for video games as well as marketing content – don’t always provide the “more” our audiences expect. And, as with adding depth and texture to gaming experiences, you can tap into those expectations and desires, capturing your audience’s attention and delighting them, by adding 3D animation to your video marketing toolkit. 

So, what do we mean by “3D animation”? 

First – definition by subtraction – there’s a lot we don’t mean. Pixar films. The collected works of James Cameron. Snapchat filters. And 360-degree interactive product demos on ecommerce sites are a few examples. But while we aren’t talking about those specifically, they’re all sources of immense inspiration for us as marketers. You see, as standalone examples presented in whole, it’s safe to say our marketing efforts don’t generally include those forms of pure entertainment or interactivity. But character-driven stories, realistic effects and textures, augmented reality with mixed media animation, and product demos? Those are all well within the wheelhouse of the video marketer. And in that context, 3D could be the development of a whole animated identity, or it could be as simple as adding depth, texture and movement to your otherwise 2D brand. Either way, using those 3D strategies to level up your brand identity and presence – well, that’s what we’re talking about today. 

1.) 3D animation helps your brand stand out in a 2D crowd 

Brand differentiation is crucial to grabbing the attention of a generally distracted audience – and the right visual stimulation goes a long way in getting those coveted conversions. While 3D animation is certainly trending (see below), many of the brands competing in your space haven’t fully embraced or invested in it. Think about it: If you, savvy marketer, are reading this and looking to rationalize the investment in 3D, what are your competitors doing? Chances are – like you – they’re producing some combination of live action and 2D animations. Which means you could easily be one step ahead of them, making right now a great time to start differentiating yourself from the pack.

2.) You can visualize the impossible with 3D 

Often, when someone is trying to hyperbolize endless possibilities, they’ll tell you that the sky’s the limit. With 3D animation, the sky isn’t the limit. You can animate the sky, clouds, complex weather patterns, whatever. You could animate the entire known universe, if you wanted to. So at Matter, we say that 3D allows you to “visualize the impossible,” because the limits of 3D animation far exceed those of our physical world. All while maintaining a so-called realistic and branded look. You could create a dream studio, complete with lights and cameras that you can maneuver to simulate the perfect scene. You can manipulate shapes, characters and products (see below). You can zoom impossibly close to things, or impossibly far away. You can add smoke to a shot – why not? You can turn an object to sand. Heck, you could make your logo out of marshmallows. Seriously, your imagination is truly the limit with 3D.

3.) 3D animation is trending, hard 

As the technology for crafting 3D animations becomes more accessible (see below), the industry continues to boom. By some metrics, the market grows by over 10% every year. You remember when we discussed those retro video games, right? Well, trends don’t necessarily tell you what your competition is doing. In fact, trends tell you what your audience wants and expects, giving you insight into how real people engage with content. So, by aligning with the larger visual trends, you can better align with your audience. 

4.) Add an extra layer of audience delight with 3D 

Engaging, memorable video content begins with visual delight. If you can catch your audience’s eye, then you have a better chance of capturing their precious attention and engaging them with your brand. This is especially true with in-stream content, but also applies to explainers, brand anthems and more. Think about it: If your visuals are delightful or novel enough, the viewer might even watch it twice. Or share it. Or both. And in doing so, they carve out a special place for that content and your brand in their memory. So, in that way, 3D animation gives you the WOW factor that elevates your brand by delighting the audience and achieving the “more” they expect.

5.) 3D is the single best way to demo a product 

Not all of us work with physical products (s/o to all you SaaS folks), but some of us marketers do. And we need to demonstrate what those products are and how they work asynchronously in video. Historically, that meant one of two things: abstract animations to demonstrate function without showing the actual product, or live-action demos with real people and products. Each has its benefits and its limits. 3D animation, like we discussed above, has almost no limits. So, for example, you could import the CAD file for a product and render a realistic, animated version of it. From there, you could break out the finest detail of that animation to demonstrate not just the function but the tiniest inner workings of the thing. All without hiring actors, renting a studio, or taking the device apart. And if you do want to show the real product with real people, you can seamlessly mix the animation into live-action footage in post-production. Put an eye-catching video like that in the hands of a sales team or on-screen at a trade show booth, and your audience will be engaged, delighted and informed.

Why wait – 3D animation is more accessible than ever 

For as “new” and “exciting” and “cutting edge” as 3D animation can make your brand feel, it’s a technique that’s been around for a while. And as computing technology rapidly advances (and becomes cheaper), the means of creating complex animations has opened up. Let’s take the platform Houdini SideFX as an example. You may recognize Houdini from, well, every Hollywood movie’s CGI effects. With Houdini, you can do anything we’ve described in this blog and more – again, your imagination is Houdini’s technical limit. Sounds expensive, right? Nope. Houdini is free to use and learn, with a “freemium” model for exporting files. As with any professional grade graphics or design program, mastery of Houdini SideFX takes a certain amount of artistic vision and dedication. But the technology is right there, ready for you to take advantage of. And that’s just one example of many. 

At Matter, we have a dedicated team of 2D and 3D animators and artists working tirelessly to elevate brands. In fact, our team created every example we’ve shown in this post. So, if you want to discuss how to beat the big boss in Mario 3 or how 3D animations could help level up your brand, reach out to a team member using the form below.