It’s common knowledge among psychologists, visual marketers, and behavioral specialists that around 93% of communication is nonverbal, hence the cliché, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Visual storytelling is a strategy for using visual content to communicate a narrative. An effective piece of visual storytelling inspires an emotional response, educates the audience, and/or guides them to a particular conclusion. Visual storytelling can take place in a single piece of content—such as a motion graphic, infographic, or social media post—or it can be achieved over the course of several connected and complementary pieces of content.
Some businesses will share the story of their founding—the inspiration for their product or service and their leaders. If your business doesn’t have this kind of history to share, you may think your brand doesn’t have a compelling story.
Don’t worry; of course you have a story worth sharing. How will your product or service make the world a better place? How does it make life better for your customers? Tell the story of a real or hypothetical client using your product or service.
Your business has a story to tell but that story can no longer be told in long blocks of text. If you want your audience to listen, you need to harness the power of visual storytelling. Here are five ways you can do that with your visual content.
#1: Share Your Origin Story
As we’ve already established, there are lots of potential stories that your brand can tell. One of those narratives that holds a lot of potential for many businesses is their origin story.
This story may be about how your company was founded, why it was founded, or some combination of the two. What problems did the founder(s) see that they wanted to solve? Was there an epiphany? What challenges did the company have to overcome to get to where it is now?
The origin story is particularly suited to appearing in the form of a video or motion graphic, which can guide the viewer through a linear narrative in a more controlled way than interactive media, which tends to prioritize self-guided exploration.
That said, there really are no limits to the style in which such a video can be produced. The important thing is to find an approach that’s consistent with your brand.
#2: Communicate Your Company’s Aspirations
Even if your business doesn’t have a particularly compelling origin story to share, you can still use the power of visual storytelling by illustrating what your business hopes to achieve. These aspirational narratives look beyond the goal of selling a product or service and focus on how that product or service or the business as a whole will make the world a better place.
So if your company is doing something inspiring that will make the world a better place, it’s time to share that story.
#3: Deliver Educational and Instructional Content
If you want to both capture and keep your audience’s attention, you need to offer something of real value to them. That’s why educational and instructional content can drive huge engagement on social media. In fact, 77% of B2B marketers are already using educational content to reach their audiences.
#4: Illustrate Product Creation From Start to Finish
For some businesses, the production of their product is a whole story by itself. And there are a lot of potential reasons for sharing this story. Perhaps it involves an innovative technique or strategy. Perhaps you’re sourcing from sustainable materials or focusing on fair trade or other socially conscious practices. The possibilities really are endless.
#5: Highlight Customer Stories
Visual storytelling isn’t always about putting your brand in the spotlight. Sometimes you want to empower your audiences and customers to tell stories of their own.
There are many ways to encourage and share UGC across social media. Visual content of this type seems to be the most effective by far, as photos of real people, cute pets, and real examples of your brand out in the world create a more human experience.
Today’s businesses need to tell compelling stories and this is achieved most effectively through the use of visual content. These stories can take place in an instant—in a single, compelling social media post—or over time via multiple interwoven visual assets that together form a larger narrative arc.
The right approach for your business depends on what you want to achieve for your brand as a whole and in particular campaigns. Set clear goals and define your target audiences and you’ll be able to find the right visual medium to bring your story to life.
What do you think? How might you use these visual storytelling techniques in your own marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.