Visual Storytelling: What Marketers Need to Know

visual content marketing tips

One of a marketer’s main responsibilities is to be a brand expert. Marketers are always in search of better ways to tell stories and reach the right audience.

Behind every brand, there is a story. A major responsibility of marketing teams is to make sure these stories reach the right audience with the help of targeted, high-quality content. But where do you start? What kinds of tools or content do brands need to share their message effectively?

This post will define visual storytelling, cover some basic yet successful visual storytelling formats, and provide some examples on the best ways to share your brand’s story with the help of visual content.

What Is Visual Storytelling?

At first glance, it might be easy to assume that visual storytelling is just another word for “visual communication.” But while visual storytelling is a type of visual communication, they don’t mean the same thing. Let’s take a look at the definitions of each to help provide more clarity.

Visual Communication

Visual communication graphically represents information to efficiently and effectively create meaning.
It may include:

  • Interactivity
  • Iconography
  • Illustration
  • Supporting text
  • Graphs
  • Data visualization
  • Animation
Visual Storytelling

Visual storytelling uses visual communication to craft a narrative that explains a concept and evokes an emotional response. As with visual communication, education is one of the end goals, but this approach aims to persuade the viewer to reach a specific conclusion.

After reviewing each definition, we can see that visual storytelling focuses on using the tools and strengths of visual communication, such as data visualizations and graphs, to help weave a story with emotional appeal. When it comes to visual storytelling, there’s a particular emphasis on building a narrative — something that people can connect with, in the same way they connect with the characters in their favorite movie, book, or TV show.

Visual storytelling is focused on connecting with audiences on a deeper level in order to help them identify a solution to a problem or to learn the value of a certain product or service.

Pixvana‘s core values illustrated through visual storytelling. Designed by Killer Infographics.

Embracing Narrative

One advantage of visual storytelling is its unique focus on narrative. Humans have been natural visual storytellers since the earliest cave paintings, tens of thousands of years ago.

This act of sharing information helps create and reinforce an emotional connection between the audience and storyteller, so has the potential to help you reach your audience on a more human level. This connection builds trust and can turn prospects into conversions.

It’s no coincidence that storytelling is also frequently paired with some form of visual content. For example, famous visual narratives such as Black Panther and Iron Man, once seen only in comic books, are now at the epicenter of popular culture. Why? Because quality stories told with fantastic visuals resonate with us on a fundamental and memorable level.

By employing different modes of visual communication, you can increase your potential to reach a broader range of audiences, including both those who respond better to narratives and those who respond better to data. Visual content allows your stories to come to life and helps your message stand out.

Choosing the Format of Your Content

It’s no secret that text-based content paired with images improves comprehension by up to 89%. But the tricky part is determining what visual format will work best with your story.  

Not all visual content is made with the same goals in mind, so it’s important to choose which format is the best fit for your message wisely.

  • Motion graphics are a great choice, as this format uses a powerful combination of music, illustration, and animation to help walk your viewer through your story. Video content, in general, can also serve as a main content piece for large projects.
  • Static designs can also be an effective tool to share a story. These kinds of designs can come in many different forms, from online infographics to physical installations such as large-scale murals. Static designs are great at highlighting specific details of a larger campaign.
  • Interactive microsites offer a way to share your message through an immersive, interactive, and visual format. This option allows for brand flexibility and is great if you want to spotlight a specific project or campaign.

Remember: One of the most important parts of sharing your story visually is keeping a consistent look and feel across your designs. A good solution to make sure this consistency is maintained is through a visual workbench.

Sharing Your Message

Just like chapters in a book, your brand’s story or message could benefit from having multiple layers of content that collectively add to the whole. Visual campaigns are a great way of sharing visually driven content in multiple formats, as multiple touchpoints along your viewer’s journey.

Incorporating different pieces of visual content allows variety, which will be essential for capturing the attention of your audience across platforms.

There are as many ways to tell a story visually as there are stories. The right way to share your narrative will depend on who you’re trying to reach and what your goals are. However, the more marketers familiarize themselves with the many tools at their disposal for excellent visual storytelling, the more empowered they’ll be to share their stories in the most effective way possible.

Eric Tra

Author Eric Tra

Eric Tra is the marketing director at Killer Visual Strategies. Originally from Spokane, Washington, Eric received degrees in marketing and fine art from Gonzaga University. After graduating, he moved to Seattle with the hopes of of pursuing a career in the city’s thriving tech community. Since earning a position at Killer Visual Strategies at the beginning of 2013, he has been at the forefront of all marketing activities within the company, including content strategy, lead generation, and social media management. Some of Eric’s other strengths in the office are geared toward internal project management; he currently leads the development of content pieces such as blog posts, ebooks, and more.

More posts by Eric Tra

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