Why consider cognitive psychology’s theory of “cognitive load” when you are trying to produce top explainer marketing videos? We’re currently starting work on an overview video where the objective is to help re-position a well-established software brand. The company has crafted a positioning statement comprising a dozen discrete concepts that, taken together, convey what the company stands for, who should use their software, what it does for them, and why they’ll like using it.
Consider cognitive load when you’re designing top explainer marketing videos
It’s natural to think that an overview should present a complete picture, and that the task in this instance is simply to make sure that our video ticks all the boxes in the positioning document. This should not be difficult, as the positioning statement uses only about 80 words to express the ideas the company wants to put across.
On the other hand, these ideas are supposed to get viewers to look at the company in a new way — in other words, we’re asking viewers to learn something new. Asking them to learn a dozen new things is asking quite a lot.
Learning is a matter of processing information in “working memory” to fit existing patterns (schema) by which it can be stored in long-term memory. Our working memory is pretty limited, so it’s important not to overload it.
Total “cognitive load” consists of:
- the complexity of the information itself (“intrinsic load”), plus
- the amount of information that is not relevant to learning — decorative elements, non-relevant animations, etc. (“extraneous load”), plus
- elements like examples and exercises that assist information processing (“germane load”)