By definition, visual storytelling is the art of communicating through visual multimedia. Visual storytelling has become essential now more than ever, given the rise and rise and rise of the digital age. Everyone’s fighting tooth and nail for one thing – consumer attention (which, by the way, is almost as long as the memory of a goldfish: three seconds).
Visual stories aren’t about simply matching a piece of material with an image; they’re about figuring out the best, most compelling way to convey information. It needs to be appealing, it needs to be relevant, it needs to have recall value and it needs to be unforgettable. If you get the visual story right – the impact and performance of your content can be tremendous!
Here are a few key rules for crafting a fantastic visual story.
- ‘Show, don’t tell’:
An unwritten rule in the film industry is that you should not rely heavily on words while telling a story. What do you need a camera for if you’re just going to talk the whole time? Rely on words as little as possible. Let the visuals speak for themselves. People are wired to process visual information faster and more effectively than verbal information. So don’t tell them about your product’s benefits; show them. Audiences have become desensitized to digital information because of spending so much time online. As a result, viewers are increasingly drawn to visceral, sensory experiences. The more senses a visual material can engage, the more memorable it becomes.
- Context Is Everything:
Everyone assumes context depending on what we present or hint at. The best part is that we can easily play with contexts to our advantage. Context, in branding, can be the colours or fonts you use to best represent your brand, or what it stands for. For example, red in the context of a Marvel film is entertaining, commercial, fun- whereas red in the context of a Quentin Tarantino film is violent, graphic and serious. So using visuals cleverly with contexts can set the expectations of your audience, so choose wisely.
- Show People:
Creating character-driven visual stories allows an audience to engage with the content personally. People have a stronger bond with each other than they do with inanimate objects or ideas. So, instead of telling the story of a company or a product, focus on the people who make it happen: you, your customers, and your staff. When you create stories about relatable characters, you build trust between your audience and your business or the message.
Conflict is necessary to keep viewers involved, elicit an emotional response, and, ultimately, move the story forward. A story conflict is a clash between competing or opposing ideas. There is no Batman if there is no Joker – there is no story when there is nothing to overcome. It introduces contrasting belief systems, desires, or ambitions. It creates tension – it creates drama! – and without that, the audience will lose interest.
- Cut the crap:
It’s best to keep it short and sweet. You’ll quickly lose your audience’s attention by overwhelming them with details and explanations. Audiences are smarter than you think! While deciding on the length of a visual story, don’t take ten seconds if you can say it in five.
- Keep it moving:
It’s called a ‘movie’ for a reason! The best stories “move” from beginning to middle to the end, seamlessly and with purpose. Whether it’s a film or an advertisement or even visual storytelling photography – movement is a must. Audiences are more likely to stick with a visual story to the end if the images they see flow from start to finish.
- Don’t be obvious:
The stories that stick are the ones that are fresh. Be the brand that never fails to amaze its customers. There’s no one quite like you – so embrace that and put that out there. It’s critical to tap into cultural events, current events, and rising trends to stay relevant but it’s also equally important to embrace your unique identity and showcase that.
- Make it meaningful:
Leave your audience with something to sit with. An emotion. A thought. An impulse. Since the beginning of human history, stories have been used to convey messages. Visual storytelling is a powerful tool for this very reason. Marketing is all about conveying a specific message, whether it’s of your brand or your company. So, if you want your audience to pay attention to your narrative, you need to leave them with something useful.
And finally, we’ll leave you with this last note. It’s always important to be personal, to be true. Keep in mind to be authentic. Viewers are bombarded with so much content daily, they have become more adept at recognizing dishonest or sponsored content. Showcasing your brand’s uniqueness is crucial.
Your story is singular. There’s no one out there with your story. So tell it.