3 Innovative Examples of Visual Storytelling

By July 17, 2019 January 6th, 2020 Visual Content in the Real World
Visual Storytelling Image of Camping to Show Visual Communication Example

An engaging book can transport you to another world, encouraging your brain to translate words into images with the help of rich descriptions. But imagine your favorite book being made into a movie; in fact, you may have been lucky enough to have that experience already, thanks to a continued interest in adaptations of popular series! When all the scenes you’ve imagined come to life before your eyes, the experience changes and you see the narrative through the eyes of new authors (producers, directors, writers, and more). 

Visual storytelling is a bit like merging the book and movie versions of a single story into a cohesive and concise experience. It uses visual communication to craft a narrative that explains a concept and often evokes an emotional response. Education is one of the end goals, but it may also aim to persuade the viewer to reach a specific conclusion.  

Visual storytelling can come to life in a variety of mediums in the visual communication space. Here are 3 exciting examples that push the boundaries of familiar visual storytelling to tell stories in innovative ways.

adidas: D.O.N. Issue #1 Visual Storytelling Loop

Describing Donovan Mitchell (a.k.a. Spida), Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man comics, and Mitchell’s adidas shoe all at the same time, this adidas/Marvel video combines a driving music track with video and animated overlay. 

In just 30 seconds, it successfully tells the story of a man, his passion, his inspiration, and his product. According to the National Basketball Association, the D.O.N. in the product name stands for “Determination Over Negativity.” 

The spot is so engaging that viewers are inspired to not only buy the shoe, but maybe learn more about Spida and Spider-Man too.

New York Times: No Bombs. No Guns. Just 90 Minutes of Soccer.

This article is a unique example of photojournalism by way of short-form, animated videos. It uses short bursts of text punctuated by brief looping videos of a nighttime soccer event in Kabul, Afghanistan. This game marked the end of a 40-year hiatus on nighttime games due to persistent violence throughout the country. 

In this example, the text provides most of the background and context, while the visuals focus primarily on the game. Glimpses of security guards and images of emotional players and fans tap into the overall weight and impact of the story. In this particular instance, without the copy, much of this context would be lost. 

Adding other visual layers would create an opportunity for the visuals to tell both stories — the story of a violent history, as well as that of the soccer game. However, the intention of the creators is clear in the title of the piece: for a night, these fans wanted to forget the violence, and focus on just the game.

Curious what visual communication can do for you?

ABC Foreign Correspondents: “Leave no dark corner”

China’s government is experimenting with a powerful gamification tool that assigns “social credit” to its citizens. Much like the credit score that can make you eligible to buy a car or a house, social credit measures China’s citizens by the life they appear to be living — and whether that life is in line with the value system espoused by the Chinese government. 

CCTV cameras around the country record citizens’ movements and decisions, including what they buy and what they say. Supporting the government and making responsible purchases earns them benefits like simple travel booking and strong options for health care and education. Accumulating a low social credit score, however, may prevent them from accessing certain privileges (in one case, a citizen was unable to book high-speed rail ticket due to his standings).

ABC’s China correspondent, Matthew Carney, authored a unique photojournalistic piece incorporating short-form looping video, animated overlay, parallax scroll, and tempered text to explore what living in a world of social credit may feel like. “Leave no dark corner” shares the opinions of those in support of and those opposed to the system, those with high social credit and those already being scrutinized by the Chinese government. 

By looking through the lens of CCTV and social-monitoring apparatus, the audience feels both what it’s like to be watched as a citizen and what it’s like to watch as the government — a unique effect of this powerful approach to visual storytelling in photojournalism.

Whether in advertising or in journalism, for profit or nonprofit, playful or serious, visual storytelling is ever evolving. Audiences are eager for new ways to consume information, combining familiar formats like the news article or Instagram video with new approaches and techniques that capture and hold our attention. 

There’s no doubt that methods for visual storytelling will continue to evolve in exciting ways in the coming years, and Killer Visual Strategies is thrilled to be a part of these continued shifts.

Lucy Todd

Author Lucy Todd

Lucy Todd is the Chief Process Officer at Killer Visual Strategies. She is a Seattle native and Western Washington University graduate. Her degree in Creative Writing and her customer service background both inform her work daily. A Killer employee since 2011 and executive since 2014, Lucy has researched for, written, and/or project-managed over 4,000 projects for the company, affording her key insight into our processes and projects. This experience is invaluable in allowing her to lead and empower Killer’s content and project management teams to success. Lucy enjoys managing the day-to-day at the office, offering a unique perspective when a team or colleague feels stuck, and learning from her peers and clients each day.

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