Show, Don’t Tell: A Guide to Visual Storytelling for Your Brand

We live in a world where most of us get attracted by visual content. From scrolling through our social media feeds to staring at a large poster in the train station, we have unknowingly let images and videos catch our attention. Maybe they have convinced us to act, such as buy a product or donate to a cause.

The fact that images catch your attention better than text is something content marketers across the world—from Chicago, Illinois to Osaka, Japan—have used to develop brand awareness, from website design to graphic advertising. This concept is called visual storytelling.

Why does visual storytelling work?

Visual storytelling is telling a story through images, infographics, and videos. It is an essential part of content marketing, which aims to capture a target audience’s attention and form a connection with them through a combination of media.

What makes visual storytelling appealing is that our brains are excellent at processing images. There are a variety of studies confirming that images are more effective in communicating messages than text. According to one study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it takes at least 13 milliseconds to process an image.

Compared to text, images are easier to digest, remember, and share. Visuals help the viewer make sense of the content, increasing the possibility of remembering and understanding a concept or message.

Visuals also cause a faster and stronger reaction. The brain is set up in such a way that visual memory links with emotions. A memorable image causes neurons to fire more frequently, intensifying the experience and increasing the chance of encoding the event into memory.

Using visual storytelling for your brand

Here is how you can use visual storytelling to catch your target audience’s attention, create a resonating message, and develop an emotional connection with them.

1. Find out what motivates your target audience

Create a buyer persona to discover what your potential buyers like, where they come from, what motivates them, and what makes them buy your product or service.

2. Create a simple but effective story

employees talking

It’s best to create a story based on these ideas:

  • Origin stories: What made you start the brand? What challenges did your business encounter, and how did you overcome them?
  • Failure stories: Being transparent about a poor management decision or a lost pitch shows authenticity.
  • Winning stories: Elevate successes like stories from satisfied customers or corporate social responsibility events.
  • Kudos: Show gratitude to high-performing team members and partners.
  • Behind the Scenes: Show your target audience how you create your product or show them a day in the life of one of your team members.

Keep your story concise and straightforward, one that can be summarized in an infographic, a tweet, or a meme.

3. Choose high-impact visuals

Use the media that your audience prefers. For example, an older target audience won’t be able to connect with memes. Make sure to match your media with the platform. A photo collage won’t be effective on a YouTube channel, potentially annoying your viewers instead of captivating them.

4. Test your visual storytelling and adjust when needed

Like all content marketing pieces, test and tweak your visual storytelling. Evaluate what works with your audience and adapt based on their feedback.

Stories can catch your target audience’s attention and convince them to take action. Partnering these with visual content ensures longer retention and a more emotional connection. When creating a content marketing campaign, don’t forget about telling your story through visuals.

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