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Animation for a meditation app: why does it work?

Animation for a meditation app: why does it work?

Ever since animation became a mass product thing, it actually had only one purpose divided into different layers.

To awe the audience

Basically, that’s it, but also to wonder, tell stories in a fairy-tale way, and engage. That is right!

Since it was designed as a visual treat for the kids and the younger audience mostly, it has a soothing quality. After all, people of all ages enjoyed that even though “officially” it was supposed to be for the children. Well, things have a tendency to change, and, contextually speaking, this happened to the animation, too.

In recent decades, animation has become an increasingly critical tool for a number of various industries. The effect of delighting people that was the essence of the animation in the first place, kind of moved to the background keeping its role as a mood-changer. The main goal now is to inform people of something, to help them navigate through some more or less complex topic. From our perspective, it worked amazingly well for brands, no matter how small or big their scale was. 

Animation suddenly turned out to be a great way to explain something, make it more usable and clear. Even for such complex and rather abstract things as dealing with our minds and distractions, the modern world is so easily willing to hand us.

So, you’ve probably already figured out that the way of dealing with our minds is meditation. Yep. The techniques invented thousands of years ago migrated to our modern technology in order to build a better attention span, improve cognitive functions and help with mental health in general. What is the best way — not in theory, but proved in practice — to display these techniques? 

As the most powerful, user-friendly-caring application demonstrates, — it’s the animation. The app, if you haven’t guessed yet, is Headspace.

Headspace is constantly taking nominations among meditation apps, it helped millions of people to meditate, and its impact continues to rise. Besides its obvious benefits – a great way to teach to meditate, comprehensive guidance, amazing voice-over – one of the main reasons they become so successful is the animation at the core of the product.

Headspace application

Animated application to calm the minds

Even though we can’t say that animation nowadays is all very calming and soothing due to its supposed nature, to choose this video genre, let’s say so, is the best possible option for those who want to calm the mind. Yes, there are tons of different animation styles. Some of these styles are probably linked to the violent content or something that wasn’t even expected to be drawn and turned into moving pictures by pioneers of animation like Walt Disney.

Nevertheless, what we see in headspace – is an ideally invented or partly chosen visual language that kind of says: “Let’s meditate”. The images, shapes, and colors feel evocative.

Evidently, the designers and artists involved in creation were looking for ways to express something incredibly abstract – the feeling of safety, a calmness that is emerging right now.

Depending on the emotion that is chosen as a topic of meditation or lesson, designers picked up the color that easily communicates certain emotions. However, the aesthetics of the app propose an emotional sequence that moves from the problems all humans face when it comes to dealing with difficult mental states up to the solution that might come – and should come as the founders suggest – through the honest efforts and time given to meditation.

Screen from Headspace

Animated series as a way to support the brand

It might be weird to create a full stack of explainers – broadly speaking, of course – for those who want to close their eyes in order to count how many times they breathe in and breathe out. However, in the Guide to Meditation the creators of the Headspace application intended to give people more value on the one hand and more understanding of the process on the other.

The result was incredible. Not only is the animation spectacular, vivid, delightful and super informative, it also worked as great support for the brand.

Some people would also say that they started meditating thanks to these series. Boom!

In fact, the quality of animation is so fantastic for a reason. Four animation studios and eleven animation directors were involved in the creation of the series based on teaching led by the founder of Headspace Andy. Eventually, they achieved something that could be an explainer video, an amazing TV show, an experimental cartoon and many more things.

Their goal is amazing – by letting you concentrate on yourself more, to get deeper with the brand.

Each episode has its own theme: how to deal with anger or stress or pain, how to let go, be kind, get started, fall in love with life, and how to use meditation as a tool for these things.

The structure of every episode is highly narrative and storytelling. It goes like this: introduction to the topic, where many different experiences, situations and simple stories are mentioned. Then, after displaying a number of explanations and examples, the course of the story moves to the very heart of it: the meditation exercise itself. 

This is probably the most exciting part. The creators used abstract visuals to show what exactly is going on inside the mind of the person that meditates. Calm, rather soft animation surrounding orange dot — in some way this is the main character of the app itself. We can see this dot all over again through the app, as well as in animated videos.

But what truly makes animation so complete is the choice of colors. The shapes are essential, of course, but the “kind” colors that have been used in the videos bring a sense of friendliness to the user. The way these colors change intersects with the progress in meditation.

One of the goals that any brand is aiming for is consistency. While each episode is sharing with another same visual world, it was highly critical through animation to achieve something more: to make the concept understandable for people from different parts of the world with diverse belief systems.

Choosing the “international” visual language was probably one of the goals. Just take a look at the picture (if you are not familiar with the app yet). The picture is fantasy-like, very pleasing for the eye. This picture is speaking to everyone willing to meditate. Even without knowing that the app is about meditating, the effect of the visuals is stunning.

Summary

“Animations can really evolve and escalate the concept behind what you’re trying to do with a feature,” says Christine Cha, Product Designer at Headspace.

So, really, why does animation work for the meditation app? To summarize, we can extract a few meanings here.

  • First of all, the combination of voice, narrative, and the animation itself makes the process of understanding easier;
  • It is engaging – people literally say that it was hard to pull their eyes off the app and animated series;
  • Third – the chosen animation carries a consistent style that helps the brand feel familiar to the customers.

The spectacular animation from top to bottom made in order to display meditation as a wonderful toolkit for a modern person definitely justified itself by keeping Headspace at the top for a very long time.

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