The Art of Visual Storytelling | 4 Quick Ways to Boost Your Brand

Businesses today suffer from two major struggles: they’re challenged by growing content from competitors and by shrinking attention spans from their audience. That’s where visual storytelling comes in. Visual storytelling is a powerful approach that can compel an audience to convert more effectively than any amount of optimization or text can do alone.

In a world drowning in content, only the bold are remembered. Visual storytelling uses visual media—photography, video, or other image-centric art—to plot out and weave an engaging tale. The human mind processes images faster than text, and we’re more likely to remember and believe stories than facts.

As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. 74% of marketers are currently using visual assets in their social media marketing. 60% are already using video according to Social Media Examiner’s 2016 report. It’s no surprise why—posts with images account for 75-90% of Facebook advertising effectivity and performance. But the importance of visual storytelling extends well beyond social media. In fact, 93% of senior marketers say that photography is important or critical to their overall marketing. Here are four tips on how to boost your brand with visual storytelling.

1. Highlight Your Mission

The most memorable commercials are the ones that tell a story. That’s why so many of today’s most famous video campaigns are reminiscent of films that set a tone and tell a journey rather than simply toting their product.

Dove is a great example of a brand that crafts stories that encourage its community to engage. For instance, Dove’s Choose Beautiful campaign poses the question “would you describe yourself as beautiful?” and ends with: beauty is a choice. By placing less emphasis on their product and more on their mission, Dove has succeeded in creating an emotional, viral video to keep them at the forefront of women’s minds.

2. Evoke Engagement with Emotion

Visual storytelling should always evoke emotion. Whether you’re trying to make your audience laugh, or cry, encouraging an emotional response brings people closer and encourages them to share your story. GoPro has done an excellent job with visual storytelling, producing numerous adrenaline-producing ads with their “be a hero” tagline and athletic persona, from jumping out of airplanes to surfing huge waves. Arguably the most memorable of their viral content, and certainly their most unexpected, is their Fireman Saves Kitten video. In this unstaged video, a fireman rescues an unconscious kitten from a burning house full of smoke. Unique and inspiring, this video highlights the theme of everyday heroism and pushes beyond GoPro’s typical athletic image. Thanks in part to its uplifting and unconventional nature, Advertising Age recognized this as the best user-created viral ad thanks in part to its uplifting and unconventional nature.

3. Be Authentic

In order to strike a chord in the heart of your audience, they need to trust you and your content. They want to believe that the people they’re seeing in your stories, what they’re doing, and how they’re acting, are genuine.

Our need for authenticity is at an all-time high, and it’s still growing. Take a look at Getty Images’ most popular baby image from 2007 and the one from 2012. Spoiler alert: the second is messy, playful, and clearly candid. Rather than choosing a perfect and sweet moment as in 2007, 2012’s image shows a real moment. The same goes for the 2007 woman versus the 2012 woman. The latter image not only looks less like stock photography, but it also highlights a real emotional expression.

4. Get Hands-On

Businesses tend to think appearing bigger and more tech-forward is the only way to survive in an increasingly competitive landscape. However, with more and more mom and pop businesses getting beat out by corporations and the growth of online shopping over traditional brick and mortar stores, we crave human interaction more than ever before. As technology takes over more of our time and lives, we see an increased desire for photography and videography with real human contact and hands-on activities and professions.

A newfound appreciation for traditional skills like craftsmanship sparks nostalgia through sensory currency. Of the many artisanal brands to emerge in the past few years, few have achieved the global reach of Etsy, a kitschy online marketplace for handcrafted items like goat’s milk soap and castles built for cats. Their first ever global campaign uses the slogan “Difference Makes Us.” It utilizes a variety of stills and videos to remind their audience of the things we touch daily in our lives by combining ideas of universality (everyone owns a mug and a nightstand) with their variety (everyone owns a different mug and nightstand).

Visual Storytelling and Your Business

How have you used visual storytelling in your business? Do you use gorgeous lifestyle photography for your Instagram or quirky videos on your website? Let us know in the comments!