Why Your Online Visuals Should Tell a Story

by Chester Avey

Why Your Online Visuals Should Tell a Story

Telling stories has always been a big part of human culture. From our ancestral beginnings in creating cave paintings up to the present day and unmitigated success of the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe and its shared narrative. For time immemorial, there can be no doubt that telling stories is one of the things that makes us human. 

It makes sense, then, that one of the most important ways that businesses can connect with their audience is to tell stories. When you create online visuals for your digital marketing, it is important to think beyond the message that you want to deliver to customers, and think rather about the story that you want to tell. 

In this article, we take a closer look at the art of visual storytelling and examine why it is so important for your visuals to tell a story. 

What is visual storytelling?

In the context of business marketing, visual storytelling is a method of “communicating messages, emotions, narratives and information in a way which reaches viewers at a deep and lasting level”. It taps into the innate human desire for meaningful stories and characters by using a range of different visual methods. These can range from photos and graphics through to video and animations. 

Through visual storytelling and some strategic marketing, businesses can communicate their ideas and present themselves in a way that makes an audience feel something about the company. It allows marketers to connect the audience to the work while also making the information easier to understand and providing them with meaning. 

As humans, we love to be able to follow stories and relate to their message. Visual storytelling is, in essence, the art of telling great stories via visual mediums in order to better promote the brand or business. 

Customers don’t want marketing to feel like marketing

Customers are savvy to the methods of marketing. Given the oversaturation of marketing on platforms like social media, the vast majority of customers have been exposed to the various different types of marketing techniques that businesses use. And this has created something of a problem for businesses.

In essence, when a customer understands what marketing is attempting to do, it makes them resist it. Take an issue like email marketing: it was estimated that marketing communications send out around 281 billion emails to customers every day. With all of these emails flooding your inbox, it is no surprise that you might become desensitised to emails and the techniques they use. 

Ultimately then, it is up to businesses to become smarter with their marketing and visual storytelling is one of the most effective ways to do this. In visual storytelling, marketers want customers to be invested in the story, and the brand message is simply incidental to that story. This allows customers to consume marketing without feeling like they are being marketed to. 

It has never been easier

It should be noted here that visual storytelling was once considered to be a type of marketing that was only available to big businesses. To tell compelling visual stories, the belief was that you needed to have a team of writers, graphic designers, videographers, photographers, and even directors - far beyond the standard marketing team of a small or even medium-sized business. 

Of course, it is true that visual storytelling does take a great deal of expertise to be deployed effectively. But these skills are more likely to be readily available in your workplace than ever before. 

Additionally, it is easier to get access to the kind of equipment that you need for visual storytelling. For example, if you need a new camera, many businesses now offer a service where you can trade in older models to get money off the new equipment. These types of services simply weren’t available just years ago, and it has made the whole process of carrying out visual storytelling far easier. 

An organic connection

Visual storytelling actually has a range of benefits. For example it is known that we are able to retain visual information better than text  - we are 65% more likely to recall visual content than text three days after seeing it. And given our in-built desire for stories and to understand a narrative, when we see a visual story play out, it stays with us. 

Perhaps one of the most important factors here revolves around a business’ ability to create a more natural and organic connection with their customers. If a customer sees a piece of visual storytelling that they enjoy or even learn something from, they will go on to associate that positive feeling with your brand. 

It is definitely worth thinking about the approach that you take to digital marketing. If you have previously relied on more traditional messaging, you might find the switch to something of a more story-based approach could be even more effective

Chester Avey

Cybersecurity Expert

With more than a decade of experience in B2B cyber-security, I provide articles and content of real value to readers on topics including cyber-security, information assurance, business growth, software solutions and ecommerce.