Using Visual Storytelling Techniques in Your Content
Storytelling is an important part of modern marketing. Where marketing used to be about running one campaign after another, storytelling focuses more on long-term stories that the audience can follow. Campaigns become tied to one another, the brand they represent gets amplified even more, and businesses gain so much in return.
Storytelling allows you to build a close, personal relationship with your audience. Those consuming your content can relate to the stories you tell better than key messages or brand identity. Once storytelling has become part of your marketing strategy, it is time to move on to the next step: visual storytelling.
What Is Visual Storytelling?
As the name suggests, visual storytelling is the process of telling consistent, contextual, and relevant stories using visual elements. Rather than writing a long article, you produce a series of videos. Instead of displaying data in a table, you utilize infographics. Visual storytelling has all the characteristics of telling a story, but with the emphasis being on the visual elements.
By definition, visual storytelling involves delivering the narrative you want to share with your audience through visual means. Those visual means can include photography, illustration, multimedia design, and video. In today’s market, there is no limit to the kind of visual content you can produce; the technology around visual storytelling has matured to a point where anything is possible.
What’s interesting about visual storytelling is the fact that it isn’t a new thing. Visual storytelling can be traced all the way back to ancient civilizations. You see symbols and visual elements in cave paintings, artifacts, and other remnants from past eras. The term “visual storytelling” may be new, but the approach has been around for ages.
Why Visual Storytelling?
There are several reasons why visual storytelling is the way forward, starting with the fact that most people have a small attention span. A large stream of content floods viewers every second. That content overload makes it more difficult for creators – brands – to win attention.
Content explosion, combined with decreasing attention spans, introduces a challenge to be solved. As always, marketers must revert to basic human nature to solve the challenge. We know that people process information faster and more effectively when the information is displayed visually.
At the same time, creators can include more information – in a contextual way – in a single visual. The combination of good reception by the audience, and complex key messages that can be delivered, makes visual storytelling appealing as a solution. Besides, visual storytelling lets you build a deeper connection.
Getting Started with Visual Storytelling
Getting started with utilizing visual storytelling for marketing purposes doesn’t have to be difficult. You simply need to understand the do’s and don’ts of visual storytelling to produce effective visual content from the start. The first tip you should always keep in mind is show, don’t tell.
This is the power of visual storytelling. For example, you don’t have to add lots of text to explain that your product is 100% eco-friendly. Rather than using long paragraphs to explain the benefits of your product, use icons or illustrations.
You also need to reduce complexity in your visual stories. The simpler the message, the easier it will be to convey it to your audience. Reducing complexity starts with making sure that the production of your visual stories is managed properly. You’ll want to choose one of the best project management tools as the first step.
Once you begin managing your projects in a clearer way, you’ll find it much easier to produce video content. More importantly, it will be easier to ensure that the stories you convey through visual content remain consistent and contextual.
Speaking about contextual content, it is also worth remembering that visual storytelling depends on context. In fact, you can play with context. If your audience thinks that you are a small operation, for instance, visual content can help create the image of professionalism.
Playing with context is something you can push to a certain degree. Another good example is creating fun visuals for products that users generally see as boring or uninteresting (i.e. a loan or a personal finance app) to create a unique visual story that the audience will remember.
You want to adopt a style and make your visual stories personal, especially in a market as competitive as it is today. You want to be unique and recognizable. You need the audience to relate to you – your brand – as quickly as possible. Adding a personal touch works best for this purpose.
Sticking with a color scheme is a good start. You can also create a unique design language or style, and then use it consistently across your channels. Remember that even the smallest visual cues can create a huge impact on an audience.
Use a common plot to make your stories engaging. What we mean by this is plots that often get used by action (superhero) movies. This is a proven formula that engages the audience every time. The story needs to have a hero. That hero needs to face a struggle, overcome that struggle, and win.
In marketing, the hero is always the consumer. When you start building your visual stories around the experience of your users, you start connecting with them on a more personal level. Talk about their struggles, how your product or service helps them overcome those struggles, and end with a win.
Last but certainly not least, limit what you are trying to say in your visual content. We know how tempting it is to talk about all 21 benefits of your product in one video, but this approach isn’t the best to take in visual storytelling.
Instead, you want to focus on ONE benefit, and craft a story that works for that benefit. Let the audience wait for the next benefit and add it in as part of the story series you are telling. That’s how you really leverage the power of visual storytelling.
There is no doubt that visual storytelling is the way forward. Now that you know what it is and how you can utilize it for your own brand, visual storytelling can be another important weapon in your marketing arsenal.