Employment3 Jul 2023
The power of visual storytelling: Leveraging brand design to engage audiences
Many people widely accept the belief that pictures and videos are highly effective in conveying messages. In today's digital age, individuals' attention spans have been reduced to 8 seconds, making visual content a powerful tool for engaging audiences.
The visual story draws the audience's attention much faster than the written story.
Visual storytelling is a potent marketing tool that crafts a captivating, dynamic connectivity using imagery and visual components to connect with the audience, whether a new prospect or a devoted customer. By establishing an emotional rapport with the viewer, you are not just executing another marketing strategy but developing a shared experience that will attract and retain them to your brand.
Visual storytelling efficiently communicates messages quickly, making it ideal for targeting consumers in the digital age with limited attention spans.
Belong Creative helps brands connect with their ideal audience using visual storytelling effectively. We have helped many clients to demonstrate their brand personality using images, videos, icons, infographics and GIFs.
What is the power of visual storytelling?
Visual storytelling is much more impactful than written storytelling because of the following reasons:
1. Better engagement with audience in less time
2. Form a lasting image in the mind compared to words
3. Recall is faster than words
4. Get shared more often than word-based content
5. Create an emotional connection with the audience
6. Explain complex concepts or products more easily
Why is visual storytelling important?
Visual storytelling establishes identity and personality, making your brand even more powerful. Visuals enhance the retention rate (i.e. keeps your audience watching) and makes the story more attractive to the audience, thus increasing its share-ability. If your brand incorporates more visuals and videos on what your product or service has to offer your audience, its chances of engaging or selling more will grow.
Visual narratives hold the audience for a long time through colours, creative novelty, design and presentation. Visual story converts consumers to buy products or services through visual call to actions (CTAs).
The experience an audience has with visuals makes them feel connected with the brand - curious, excited, desirable, needed. The brand experience gets more enriched with the use of visuals and videos which can go deeper beyond listing features and demonstrate the emotional benefits.
With the busy, quick-scrolling environment of social media, it becomes even more imperative to use visuals to create powerful messages that tell a story about your brand and stand out.
A visual story can do wonders in attracting, retaining and creating loyal customers, employees and investors.
Benefits of visual storytelling
Visual storytelling can help brands differentiate and make a lasting impression. The benefits of visual storytelling are as follows:
Brands that use visuals and videos have a more distinctive and therefore memorable brand presence in the target audience's minds. The overall experience with brands having clear and concise images increases recall many times over and leaves an impression of what the brand stands for. As an example you think of the car manufacturer Volvo and immediately ‘Safety’ comes to mind. Whereas you think of Jaguar and this brings feelings and ideas of ‘Performance’. This is because of the visual storytelling these brands have invested in over many decades.
When used in content marketing, visuals have more engagement than just words alone. Through visuals, customers have a heightened experience of what your brand, product or service can do for them.
Visual designs that keep the audience in mind take them on a journey, emotionally connecting the audience through common challenges, problems solved or opportunities to succeed.
Visuals have proven to produce an increased number of shares across all social media platforms. That means when your customers or employees share a visual story about your brand or product, it amplifies through their personal networks.
Visuals and videos have the power to enhance brand personality and create an element of trust when the brand message gets shared - much like word of mouth. When the visual story is produced effectively and in an engaging way, it is much more ‘shareable’ through social and digital media channels.
Visual storytelling usually creates a stronger emotional connection which attracts and engages audiences. By using relatable pictures and images that arouse feelings (like excitement, surprise, entertaining, empathy) you are emotionally connecting with your current and prospective customers, employees and investors and leaving a lasting impression.
Elements of visual storytelling
Visual storytelling becomes more effective when strategically planned by considering all the elements. The various aspects of a visual story are:
The design of the visuals, forms an essential and captivating element for a visual story. The audience's perception of visual and spatial elements significantly depends on their construction. So carefully planning how to design the visual elements to create an impact becomes significant. Consider things like colour (to set a mood), intensity (to convey an energy) and space and shapes (to direct focus).
Personalise the visuals and videos by creating them according to the needs and preferences of your audience. When you plan appropriately and know your audience well, the visuals will significantly improve connection with your brand. Speak their language, appeal to their values, or even better, use your customers or employees as the heroes of your visual storytelling.
Making a visual or video that infuses your product or brand personality will make it more impactful. For example, a more luxury brand may require a visual that feels like it has an exclusive association (think minimal design, black and metallics, high-fashion, chiselled models). Whereas a more down-to-earth brand may require humbler storytelling (think relatable, homely, every-day moments). The more distinctive your brand personality the more easy it is for your visual to stand out from competitors.
The narrative is the flow of how the visual story is described to your audience. Often you develop the narrative first in words (i.e. a script), then consider how you bring the story to life with visuals. Is it graphics? Animations? Or footage? It could be a combination of all these things. Have a think which production method will best tell the story.
An essential element of creating visual stories involves their ability to get shared by users across various digital platforms. When an image gets built, it should engage and ideally entice the user to share it. This is often called going ‘viral’. If you can surprise, delight or entertain your audience, making them laugh, cry or be inspired - your video will go along way to being share-worthy.
It is imperative to include relevant visual components in sync with the product or brand to create a captivating visual storyline. Irrelevant visual elements can hamper the brand identity and tarnish the brand image. Ensure that your visuals complement your brand personality and enhance the useability of your brand, product or service.
Visual storytelling types
A visual story can get associated with a brand through various types of formats, such as:
Images and photographs capture the audience's attention. Both can have a lasting impression on the audience when properly planned and implemented. Pictures of real people can create more authenticity than imaginary or AI generated pics. People relate to real people like them.
Images that are clear and connected to the brand have more chances to create engagement and leave a lasting impression.
If a ‘picture says a 1000 words’ then imagine the power of video! Brands leverage video more today than ever before. Whether it is for education and awareness, engagement and action, or emotional connection to the brand, video is the ideal medium to reach and make an impression on your audience. Many brands leverage their owned channels such as website and social media handles to publish their video content and organically reach their connected audience. However, to push out and attract new audiences, brands may invest in Free-to-air TV, Digital TV, Pre-Roll and Cinema advertising.
TV commercials may be more beneficial for mass appeal products such as FMCG, food products or mass awareness products such as insurance.
Illustration can often cut-through and create differentiation from the mass of ‘stock photography’ that is so commonly used by brands. Commissioning an artist to create bespoke illustrations can give your brand a truly unique look that no-one else can own.
Another level up is moving illustrations or animations. Animations can take a complex product and more simply explain it in a way that is easy to understand. Animations can be fun or serious. It can bring more engagement than a person trying to explain an idea through words alone. Animations are widely used across insurance, education and industrial products.
Shapes and icons can play a significant role in making your visual message more engaging and appealing. Arrows, rectangular shapes, hearts etc., can help you illustrate an image with the intended tone and clarity while also breaking up the monotony of words only.
Infographics make complex topics easier to understand. They add clarity to a blog topic, industry stats and brand performance, creating user trust and being a more fun experience to digest than longer copy-only formats.
How to use visual storytelling to connect with your audience
Visual storytelling becomes more effective when organisations use a process that helps them connect with the right audience and continually review and adapt. A strategic method of visual storytelling incorporates the following steps:
1. Know your audience and what they value
2. Define your brand message
3. Choose your visual format
4. Craft your visual story
5. Optimise your visual content
6. Engage with your audience
7. Measure and iterate your ideas
How can visual storytelling impact your content marketing strategy?
Visual storytelling can have a more enhanced impact as a part of your content marketing strategy. With proper planning and effective use of visual elements, the brand can create deeper engagement with your ideal audience.
Belong Creative can assist you with making visual storytelling more effective and guide you on how to incorporate visual elements within your content strategy. Contact one of our expert visual storytellers today.
Frequently asked questions
What are some creative ways to tell a story?
Some different creative ways to tell a story are:
1. Use of animated videos
4. Animated GIFs
How do brands tell visual stories?
Brands tell visual stories through the use of visual elements appropriately crafted to bring their personality to life. Often brands may leverage storytelling to establish heritage, authority, scale, sentiment, values or attitudes that marketers want the brand to be known and remembered for. Every brand is unique and so is its storytelling.