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The purpose of this post is to explain the objective of visual storytelling and how it can help boost digital marketing campaigns for brands.
Stories are fundamental to human culture. Everything we know today can be attributed to stories recorded from prehistoric era to the present. Every piece of information we have come to know remains in existence because of stories passed on by elders to elders, clans to clans, nations to nations. We have learned so much of who we are because there were other people ahead of us who took responsibility in ensuring that knowledge was passed on to other generations.
The very primitive form of storytelling came in engravings and drawings on caves and stones or anywhere where a story or a picture can be painted. Visual stories are a powerful and effective method of communicating ideas, wisdom, cultural knowledge and historical events.
This is what is known as semiotics or what is popularly known as visual grammar for storytellers. More specifically, semiotics refers to the process in which visual cues, or signs, are put together into understandable patterns that visibly transmit messages or stories to viewers or learners.
Today, visual storytelling is no longer confined to a nostalgic review of what happened earlier in life. Visual storytelling has become a potent force in content marketing. Brands have found it imperative to include visual content and narratives into their marketing agenda since it has been shown to increase website traffic and visitor engagement. Brands effectively use visual storytelling to convey the benefits of their products or service. They have also tapped into the power of visual content as a means of converting followers into loyal patrons.
The most popular forms of visual storytelling today include images, videos, infographics, and charts. When powerful visuals are created, engagement is expected to increase. Compelling and captivating visual content that is able to evoke emotions results in deeper engagement with the audience and drives prospective consumers to a decision –buying a product or service.
Consumers respond well to real-life examples. Do you see now why you share videos about random acts of kindness or professional vulnerability? Or how the Internet is populated with before and after photos of men and women who adhered to a certain fitness regimen?
Prospective consumers are more likely to convert if they can see from your visual content campaigns the kind of reality you’re promising. Let’s face it–marketing and advertising have been coined as the wonderful world of deception.
Consumers prefer real-life depictions. See how the doll-manufacturing industry has shifted from the white, slim and model-like figures of Barbie Dolls–which, in the early years, represented only Caucasian women–to the multiracial line of dolls we see today.
The response to this shift was great, but as society begins to change and improve its standards to create a holistic, child-friendly environment–bully-proofed and insecurity protected–doll manufacturers and idealists have found it necessary to change the image of dolls sold globally. Lammily was introduced as a more realistic embodiment of a female body.
Today, more and more of these types of dolls are being created to put an end to stereotypical standards. The likes of Go Go Sport Girls promote healthy choices for young girls while growing up.
The point here is that the early version of Barbie created a standard for all women to follow: they should be tall, white and beautiful. As incidents of bullying are on the rise, the self-image standards created by the early versions of the Barbie Doll are being increasingly brought into question.
When creating your visual, make sure that it remains in accordance with what is socially acceptable and culturally welcome in today’s setting. Again, going back to the example on doll manufacturers, this is no longer a tall and slender Barbie-dominated world, but a competent arena for any female aspiring to do great things with or without a slender body.
A perfect example of this is how popular TV shows are casting multiracial actors and assigning roles. You see how the world of entertainment is making positive changes to put an end to inequality and gender-based roles.
Captivate audiences by reliving what they’re missing. Address pure human connection and you can surely expect virality in your visual content. Capitalize on human emotions and skills.
Visual storytelling characters oftentimes are handpicked from this list of role models since they have been effective in sending out messages.
The most common model used is the Hero. For a male, this would ultimately involve someone like Harry Potter. In today’s cultural character shift, we would most often see women adopting the character of a maiden huntress or defiant female heroes like Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior.
This is intended to serve as a guide in creating visual stories that you share online.
When necessary and possible always credit your sources or where you have gotten your content from. If using video, you can create a summary of credits listing your resources at the end or you can add references on individual images you catalog to form part of your content.
It is expected that your audience will assume that most of the visual content you share is never the product of whim, reenactment or role-play.
Even though we say a picture is worth a thousand words, we cannot create a visual story with just one image. More often than not, visual stories come in various images collected and collated to offer one single idea or point. Make sure that your images are created and prepped to support one single story or to bring out one point all throughout the story.
Visual storytelling is not about collecting images and figuring out how each individual image is related to one another. Rather, a single story is formulated, planned and carefully tailored. After cooking the story come the images to spice up and add life to the story. Visual stories are capable of moving the audience from one place to another or to experience the life of another person. To be effective, a visual story must be compact – short but long enough to embody a lesson or deliver a visceral message. Visual stories speak truth and are evocative enough to open the door for the reader to empathize with the story.
A great visual story must convey and contain one central point. All other angles must be removed so as not to defeat the purpose of the story.
The visual story must be able to standalone on its merits, without reliance on text or a background overview or context.
Visual stories can appear in many forms not only those produced by a camera. We can have a compelling visual story with simple drawings. What matters is that you have a central message to convey and you know how to put it into images.
This is a very effective visual content marketing approach. See how most moms flaunt their before and after photos after having a baby? This has been a major trend for moms getting in shape after they have successfully delivered their children. Oftentimes, you only see the months-old photo bearing the unwanted fat and the after photo which is the result of hard work and hours of painstaking exercise.
Moms love their bodies; this is the very reason why they work hard to get into shape. But not all moms are gun ho about going through all the hard work to get into shape. A Beautiful Body Project showcases the bodies of motherhood. This is another angle to show how moms love their bodies even after birth.
Work your magic in putting your images and videos at work. Do some technical adjustments to improve viewability. Never be afraid to spice up the visual content with thought-provoking images or excerpts from videos.
Visual storytelling is now an indispensable commodity for most content marketers. It has become vital to the survival of brands online and across social media. In future posts you will learn how to leverage the power of visual storytelling in Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
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