Marketers and advertisers use various techniques to appeal to and interact with target audiences. One technique they use is visual storytelling in which a story is told to the audience using visual tools. It might be useful for your business to study how visual storytelling works and how to use it in your upcoming campaign.
This article will discuss what visual storytelling is and its examples which you can get inspiration from for your next content marketing strategy.
What is Visual Storytelling?
Visual storytelling is the telling or showcasing of a visual story through visual media. Visual storytelling can be presented in various visual media, such as video, illustration, and photography.
Enhanced graphics, music, and other audio elements are frequently used to enhance these visual media formats. Bar graphs, column charts, area charts, short and extended video explainers or documentary films, and Instagram posts are some examples of visual storytelling.
It also has the unmatched ability to create traffic and convert leads at any stage of the sales funnel when used appropriately. Truly, one cannot go wrong when including it in a content marketing strategy of a brand.
Why Visual Storytelling?
Visual storytelling allows people and organisations to display messages, stories, and information to their audiences through visual media and simplifies complex stories. Because there is so much competition, digital marketers must work hard to capture their audience’s attention.
The most recognisable and memorable brand campaigns are noticeable due to the effective use of their visual storytelling. The best technique to promote the business is to show rather than tell your audience and even science supports this.
The human brain can analyse an image in as little as 13 milliseconds, according to MIT researchers. This shows that even after a picture is no longer visible, some portion of the brain is still processing it.
Additionally, audiences are more likely to remember visual content longer. A message is more likely to stick with most of us if we see it, as around 65% of people are visual learners according to the Law Teacher Journal.
Additionally, the best approach to convey your brand’s values to your audience is through visual storytelling.
What Makes a Good Visual Story?
Brands are increasingly using visual storytelling as their primary form of self-promotion. Without using any words, it may express a wide range of emotions, humour, and information. But what exactly makes a good visual story?
We’ve compiled the techniques that make good visual stories below.
Visual Storytelling Techniques
Content marketers are becoming more aware that they can leverage visual storytelling techniques for much more of their content as they move away from PDFs in their content marketing approach. Here are the techniques that make sense and resonate with the target audience.
1. Always keep your readers in mind
When creating a visual story, it’s important to always keep your audience in mind. The goal of visual storytelling is to engage and connect with your audience, and the best way to do that is by understanding their needs, preferences, and interests. This way, you can create visual stories that are relevant and meaningful to them.
For example, if you’re creating a visual story for a business reader, consider using data visualisation and statistics to present information clearly and effectively. If you’re creating a visual story for a younger audience, consider using interactive elements and animations to make them more engaging.
Additionally, it’s essential to test and evaluate your visual stories to ensure they are resonating with your readers. This can be done by gathering feedback, analyzing engagement metrics, and making changes accordingly. Remember, the key to successful visual storytelling is understanding and catering to your audience’s preferences and needs.
2. Use interactive visual elements with caution
Interactive features are excellent for grabbing the attention of an audience because they may be so powerful and eye-catching. You risk losing your audience’s interest and having them click away if your content lacks interactive components. However, if you use too many, they’ll become confused and your visual story might be overshadowed.
3. Show, don’t tell
The most popular storytelling technique is undoubtedly the “show, don’t tell,” which you may have previously heard. Visual storytelling is letting your audience interact with visual components without pressuring a reaction from them.
One typical error is to use graphics to merely duplicate what is already mentioned in the text. The language and graphic components of the best visual storytelling complement each other well.
Another typical error is being too strong with your call to action. Although clicks and conversions are significant KPIs for most digital marketers, these factors must not take away from your visual story’s immersive experience.
4. Be persistent to strengthen your results
For some, “visual storytelling” consists primarily of stock photos, funny GIFs, generic infographics, and a few embedded social network posts.
Technically, all of these components are visual. They can be useful as well, although most digital marketing tends to overuse them.
But even if you are not a designer or developer, you may be far more ambitious with your visual storytelling using contemporary platforms. Anyone can now make engaging content thanks to tools that require no coding or minimal coding.
Simply put, well-done visual storytelling works as it produces better results, such as longer times spent on pages, higher click-through rates, and higher conversion rates.
5. Create information for the web instead of for print or PDF
The best visual storytelling wasn’t found on the web until recently. It was available in print or PDFs, both of which had their serious downsides.
When creating visual stories for an online reader, businesses often overlook the need to adapt their print or PDF stories for the digital medium.
Your web and print products are distinct from one another. Although they could be complementary, they nonetheless need to exist as different reading experiences.
This issue frequently arises when content teams start to produce digital editions of already-existing print magazines. These teams frequently produce “flip-books” on the web, which mimics several print object analogies by having pages that can be “flipped.”
6. Ensure that your video and images are web-friendly
Even if high-speed internet is highly common, it is still crucial to optimise your web images and videos.
The main risk of having large media assets is that viewers will grow bored and leave after waiting for a long time for them to load. A poorly optimised website might be disastrous for your traffic because Google also factors page performance into its results.
7. Create a plan for your visual content right from the start
The most effective visual stories consider visual design much early in the process. The content team can then think about how text, visuals, and video can work best together. Additionally, it gives the production and sourcing of visual assets additional time.
The best technique to handle this is to gather everyone engaged in the creation of a story early on and make plans accordingly.
Also read: Marketing Campaign 101: The Ultimate Guide
Elements of Visual Storytelling
Now that we have covered the techniques to make successful visual stories, here are the following elements that should be present in your story.
1. A Clear Message and Subject
A great way to encourage the reader to continue reading the story is to have a clear message. Also, building suspense and tension will keep readers staying and wanting more.
These effects can be made possible by using static images or by adding supporting images to text. Meanwhile, the photograph or image needs to clearly describe the subject for visual storytelling to be effective.
The purpose is to tell a story, hence the characters and plot must be clear from the images that are used.
When a story is told visually, design plays a crucial role in the viewer’s interpretation. Design involves elements like colour selections and subject positioning on a page. Instead of diverting attention from the story, these features ought to be utilised to help readers understand and process what they see.
For instance, photojournalism demands that photographers choose the best way to visually tell a narrative. Shots must be framed so that the image can be both objective and aesthetically pleasing.
3. Visual Hierarchy
The visual hierarchy is used to determine which elements are the most valuable. This might be the biggest typographic element in a visual. Or this could be the main subject or focal point of an image. Each aspect of a design should be different in size and significance. It may be challenging for someone to make sense of what is happening if there are too many competing elements that demand the attention of the viewers.
Making a good first impression is crucial since you only get one chance to do so. As a general rule, try to capture your audience’s attention within the first eight seconds of your story.
5. Interaction with the Audience
The best thing about visual narratives is that you can convey ideas without constantly using static text. The user will have a good experience if the graphic moves and the page is configured for dynamic adaptation. Even though these interactions may appear insignificant and discrete, they provide the user with a sense of more ownership and control over the entire experience.
Visual Storytelling Examples
Case studies including photos, videos, and 2D and 3D animations are a few of the more visually-heavy examples in content marketing. However, online visual stories generally incorporate narrative and imagery to achieve the best of both worlds.
Online photo essays typically feature written captions to provide background information. Voice-overs and/or text are frequently used in videos.
Additionally, words and video complement one another. Your new video will be easier to find online if you write a brief, keyword-rich blog post or create a clear landing page. Your text-heavy white papers, case studies, and eBooks, on the other hand, will rely on visuals to help tell the story or highlight particular pieces of information.
Understanding the effects that various visual mediums have on your audience and knowing how and when to use each is essential for producing powerful multimedia content. Here are the different mediums that marketers can use to incorporate visual stories.
One great example of visual storytelling using photos is the “Humans of New York” project by Brandon Stanton. The project began as a photography blog featuring portraits and stories of everyday people on the streets of New York City. Each photo is accompanied by a quote or short story from the subject, allowing the viewer to connect with the person in the photo on a deeper level.
As the project grew in popularity, Brandon began to expand the project to other cities, and countries. Later on, he even used it as a tool to raise money for charitable causes. The project’s success has proven the impact of visual stories through photography. By capturing spontaneous and intimate moments and providing context through the subject’s own words, the photographer was able to build a connection with the viewer, making the stories and the subjects of the photographs more relatable and memorable.
There is a vast universe of GIFs that convey a wide range of emotions and ideas. You can include them in your 1,500-word blog posts and share them on social media. You can also add a phrase or two of context tying the content to your brand, or you can choose not to.
Another option you can tap into is by outsourcing it to an animation company like Superpixel just like what we did for one of our clients – Singapore Exchange.
The SGX Bull Charge is a charity initiative by the Singapore Exchange that raises millions of dollars per year to support underprivileged children and families as well as seniors with little to no support system. Superpixel created the social media GIFs for SGX’s events at the Charity Run such as the Silent Disco, Movie Night, bicycle-powered smoothies, and more.
3. Graphs and Charts
It is less crucial to follow brand rules while creating graphs and charts than it is with images and GIFs. Use as few colours as you can for the type of graph without going overboard. A bar graph, for instance, just requires one or two colours, whereas a pie chart substantially benefits from having a different hue for each slice.
An excellent approach to show the value of your products or services is through video. Original footage from the silent movie “Nosferatu” was dubbed in the short video “Nosferatu, the Nonsilent Film” by Getty Images with stock music, sound effects, and voices. In essence, they provided us with a funny demo in video form.
You may collaborate with graphic designers who have the skill to build an immersive visual universe using nothing more than software, brand specifications, and their ideas rather than spending money on capturing and editing your content.
The animated video above is used for Redmart’s brand awareness campaign to attract the target audience on social media using entertaining and relatable inconvenient scenarios of grocery shoppers.
Infographics are shareable, interesting assets that can be placed at the top of any content marketing funnel. They come in many sizes and shapes and employ a wide range of innovative strategies to visually convey data.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used the visual format above to explain how its regulatory division handled COVID-19.
To make it easier for the eyes to follow from top to bottom, the effects of each action are separated into individual columns and given a distinctive colour. Although this flow deviates from the usual left-to-right reading order, it is not distracting or challenging to read.
The layout has a design of a healthcare worker at the top that pays homage to those who work in the field, brand-consistent colours, clear numbers, and minimal text.
Tell A Good Story
Given the strength of modern visual storytelling platforms and tools, it might be simple to overlook the most crucial requirement, which is a compelling narrative. Pay close attention to your visual narrative no matter what techniques you want to use.
An animation company like Superpixel can help you create a compelling visual narrative that would resonate with your audience. If you’d like to learn more about how Superpixel can help you create a compelling yet entertaining visual narrative, contact us today and let our team of creative storytellers bring your ideas to life. Click here!