Did you know that the human brain is capable of processing a picture in less than 13 milliseconds? To give you some perspective, the time you take to blink is 287 milliseconds longer!

What this means is that your brain can perceive images better and faster than worded text. This forms the fundamental basis of visual storytelling in modern branding campaigns.

Today, there are a lot of brands fighting for customer attention in the marketplace—creating a compelling visual story can help your audience connect with your brand much faster.

What is visual storytelling?

Simply put, visual storytelling involves using visual content to convey the brand narrative. The narrative could be the brand’s origin story, future goals and aspirations or merely a message to empathise with the brand’s audience. Compelling visual storytelling can engage your audience and help them connect with your brand.

Visual storytelling uses any form of visual content, from pictures and videos to pictures and graphics to enhance the value of marketing or brand campaigns.

Components employed in visual storytelling

There are many types of visual components that you can use in your visual storytelling. Here are the most common elements.

  1. Pictures: Pictures are the most common form of imagery used in visual storytelling. You can use them as a literal interpretation of your message or as metaphors.
  2. Memes: A growing trend in recent years, memes are wildly popular among teens and young adults. Memes are edited videos or pictures that carry relatable and often funny context to your message.
  3. GIFs: When the scientists at CompuServe created the GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) in 1987, they had no idea that their creation would be one of the most shared items in 2020. Mostly based on pop culture references, today’s younger generation loves to use GIFs to express themselves. GIFs can be a useful tool in your visual storytelling to connect with today’s younger audience.
  4. Videos: A 2-minute video convey your message on a subject faster than a 500-word article and still be more engaging. In fact, a Forrester Research paper reveals that 1-minute of video content is equivalent to 1.8 million words! Video content can enhance your storytelling abilities and increase your engagement.
  5. Customised images: Customised images work in similar ways to normal pictures, except they are tailored to your brand. Teams of graphic designers work on stock photos to edit and tweak them to improve your brand awareness.
  6. Charts and graphs: Graphs and charts are great visual tools when you want to spice up content containing boring numbers and figures. Want to tell your audience how many people preferred your pies over other brands? You can literally use a pie chart!

Apart from these components, you can also turn to animations and infographics to enhance your brand campaigns.

Effective visual storytelling practices

Now that you know the essential visual storytelling tools, you can use them to create effective marketing campaigns for your brand. Here are a few effective visual storytelling best practices to get you started.

  1. Share your story with an emotional touch

Most of your loyal customers would want to know the emotional backstory of your brand. What initial problems did you have to face? How did you overcome your challenges? What were the sacrifices you made in your initial days?

Visually expressing a good origin story complete with an emotional edge can humanise your brand and help your audience empathise with you. You must also remember that your imagery should serve your story, not the other way around.

Take the British Heart Foundation, for example. Instead of a video, the organisation used an interactive timeline to project its long history. Viewers could explore the timeline at their own pace and learn more about the organisation in their own time.

  1. Have a conflict in your story

Like any great fictional work, your story should also have an obstacle that your brand has overcome. The hurdle should also resonate with your audience. The more your audience can relate to the barrier, the more your brand message will resonate with them.

A recent Apple advertisement can be a perfect example here. It showed people using Apple products to connect with others and express themselves from the confines of their home during the recent lockdown.

Rather than outright advertising their products, Apple told a story of human connection and support during challenging times. The beautiful portrayal of an obstacle and its resolution made the video viral on many media platforms.

  1. Show off your customer success stories

Visual storytelling can let you do much more than putting the spotlight on your brand. Instead, it can let your brand take a backseat and allow your customers to tell their stories. A narrative from your consumers’ point of view can also allow you to showcase how your brand takes care of their needs and preferences.

Dove is an excellent example of a brand that uses its appreciation from its customers by letting them do the talking. A leading brand in promoting body positivity, Dove has launched the ‘Beauty Portraits’ series with hundreds of their female customers. These women speak about their experiences with body shaming and explain how the brand has helped them feel confident in themselves.

As with any other creative technique, there is a lot of room for experimentation in visual storytelling. It is up to you to decide which aspect of your brand would be grounds for a fantastic story. You can create content based on the mission statement of your brand and its future goals or build instructional content revolving around a specific product.

The right approach for your brand campaign will also depend on your marketing goals. Setting specific goals and clearly defining your target audience can also help you find the right visual media to bring your brand story to life.

Want to know how a graphic design degree can help you become a master storyteller? You should explore the BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme from the London College of Contemporary Arts (LCCA).

Specifically, this course’s Introduction to Visual Communication module will introduce you to different visual storytelling practices that can be used both online and offline. This visual design course in London can also help you explore the importance of visual campaigns and how to design them.

Other USPs of the BA graphic design programme include top-of-the-range software, updated studio spaces and extensive connections in the UK’s graphic designing industry.

Click here to get a complete run-down of the UCA-accredited programme at LCCA.