Visual storytelling involves using pictures and videos to communicate with your audience. It can grab attention, get people to take the desired action, and inform them — often providing better results than text-only methods.
Businesses use the technique for numerous reasons. However, two of the frequently discussed benefits are increasing sales and raising brand awareness. Here’s a look at why visual storytelling can accomplish those things for your company in the next year.
It Increases Social Media Momentum
Visual storytelling typically supports social media sharing. Most users would rather see — and share — visual-centric posts rather than those with large blocks of text. It also helps that visual storytelling can evoke emotions or catch people’s interest as they scroll.
Maybe you sell a cleaning product that deals with a common household challenge, such as removing stains from light-colored fabric or carpet. If people see a video about how fast and thoroughly it works, they’ll become more intrigued than by reading a post that merely says, “Removes tough stains in five minutes.”
When choosing your medium, topic and angle, think about what will grab your audience’s attention and entice them to share the material. For example, is the content thought-provoking, humorous or newsworthy? If so, it may be more shareable, too.
It Helps You Relate to Customers
Successful companies drive sales by conveying why customers need their products and what they can expect after buying them. That’s why a testimonial may be the missing element that turns a casual browser into a committed purchaser.
Consider publishing some video testimonials on your site or social media profiles. That content could help potential customers realize you sell things they need.
When viewers can see customers’ facial expressions and hear their voices, your visual storytelling efforts will resonate with the audience. Many people will conclude that your products may be what’s missing in their lives. That doesn’t mean you should do away with text-based testimonials. However, now could be an excellent time to experience the benefits of using videos to connect with customers.
It Makes Complex Ideas More Understandable
Visual storytelling could also make it easier for people to grasp the more complicated aspects of your product. Maybe you have a white paper or guide that takes a deep dive into your products’ technologies and use cases. Certain groups of people will appreciate those documents, but others will find them overwhelming and too dense. The advantageous thing about visual storytelling is that it can give your content a pleasing flow that guides people through the material.
After all, good stories have beginnings, middles and ends. That familiar structure can keep people engaged and curious to know what happens next. When you go with an Infographic or video as your visual storytelling mechanism, those options can be beneficial for bringing context to statistics. They could also explain why each part of your company’s process results in superior products.
If it’s necessary to break complicated ideas into steps, think about how visual cues such as color choices, numbers, arrows and lines could help people follow the content. For example, Infographics often structure the content hierarchically. That way, people can almost immediately see what to read first and not get lost in the material.
It Gets People Excited to Try Your Products
During the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain shortages and delivery delays caused many consumers to have difficulty getting their usual brands and products. However, the positive side of that situation is that they felt open to purchasing new items. As of November 2020, necessity and curiosity led 40%-66% of shoppers to try new products.
You can use visual storytelling to help more people know about your brand and want to try it. Perhaps you have a line of plant-based meals. If so, think about how you could appeal to people who are still on the fence about changing their diets. You might release a branded image collection that debunks common myths about plant-based nutrition and then post one picture per day on social media to support the campaign.
When designing visual storytelling media, aim to give it some shared characteristics. For example, every video might have your brand’s logo in the corner, or all your Infographics might use the same font and color scheme. People can then quickly tie the content back to your company. Plus, if they frequently see the branded material online, they’ll likely become even more interested in your products, wanting to see for themselves what makes the items worth buying.
It Educates Consumers
Even when people are intrigued by your products, they may have trouble answering the “so what?” question. Consider an example where you sell vitamins with innovative capsule designs. If you stop at only saying that your company spent a significantly longer time creating the capsule than competitors, that’s not enough.
Instead, use a video or image to explain the elements that make the vitamins easier to take, promote better absorption or prevent nausea if people swallow them on an empty stomach. This will help customers understand why your products stand out. You’re using visual storytelling to emphasize that the items are worth buying.
Give people ideas that encourage using products in new ways, too. Maybe your company sells locally made salsa. You could use visuals to show people that the possibilities go far beyond snacking on it with chips. They could choose salsa as a salad topping or spoon some onto baked potatoes. An Infographic called “15 Delicious Ways to Use a Jar of Salsa” catches interest and makes people want to try your tips.
It Creates a Stronger Connection With the Audience
Visual storytelling helps draw people into the content. The imagery makes it easier for people to see how your products could improve their lives. If they see a video describing a common situation, viewers are more likely to think, “Hey, that sounds like me!” You’ve then set the stage for them to form a connection with you that can strengthen over time.
If you’re focusing on still images, remember that authenticity and personalization are everything when building a brand. That’s why it’s best to avoid sticking with stock photos. If you do that, it’ll be more difficult to find people that accurately represent your brand’s voice. However, your company’s budget may prevent you from investing as much as you’d like in custom images. That’s OK. Going with a mix of stock and customized pictures is a good way to keep costs down.
You could also turn visual storytelling into a contest. Ask people to snap photos or shoot short videos that show how your product has changed their lives. Submitting them could give participants the chance to get featured on your website or social feeds, and that possibility can be exciting.
Move Forward With Visual Storytelling This Year
Visual storytelling is not a technique that brings guaranteed success. However, by following the tips here and researching other best practices, you’ll be in a great position to make it work for you.
Consider choosing a few metrics to track before getting started. You can then look at the statistics every few months to see how sales and brand awareness have changed due to your efforts. Getting on a schedule to examine the data frequently allows you to make tweaks to achieve the best results.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.