The Power of Visual Storytelling

As long as our species has existed, we’ve been telling stories visually. From the early cave paintings left by our forefathers to the fully immersive virtual worlds experienced by 21st-century youth, pictures, shapes, and colors have always been a part of the human experience.

The marketing industry is no exception. Dating back to the invention of mass printing in the mid-1400’s, entrepreneurs and brands have been using visual tools to tell their stories. You might say it was “Ye Old Marketing Collateral.”

And while the technology used to create it has changed quite a bit, the power of telling stories through visual means hasn’t. In fact, you could make the case that it’s more powerful than ever. But, just how powerful is it for those of us working to connect consumers and brands?

To fully comprehend visual storytelling’s impact on the marketing industry could take years. But, in the interest of providing actionable insights, we’ve condensed it down to the information entrepreneurs, marketers, and SMBs would find most helpful.

Visuals are attention-grabbing

One of the primary reasons visual storytelling is so powerful for marketers is that highly visible content is simply more attention-worthy. When U.S adults are consuming 12 hours or more of media per day, getting consumers to absorb your message is harder than ever.

Recent data shows social media posts with videos receive as much as 1200% more shares than non-video posts. Our preference for visual content isn’t limited to video either. Current statistics indicate that infographics are 3x more likely to be shared and downloaded than any other kind of content.

For marketers, there’s a continually-growing body of evidence that telling a brand’s story through the use of images, video, and graphics is the most-effective way to attract more eyeballs.

Pro tip: Use images that tell their own story. For example, the two images below attempt to deliver similar messages, but with very different approaches. Both are designed to encourage the viewer to book a vacation.

The example on the left uses a powerful combination of physical setting, facial expression, body language, and color to convey a feeling of relaxation. The image on the right is text heavy, creating a busy image that’s more confusing than captivating.

Think your brand’s imagery could use a remodel? Consulting with visual storytelling experts is a great place to start.

Humans understand information visually

Research has shown that people interpret information visually 60,000 times faster than text. For marketers, this means using images and videos to tell the story of brands and products could deliver much more immediate results and potentially better brand recognition. Furthermore, some recent studies indicate that up to 93% of communication is non-verbal, which indicates that visual storytelling doesn’t even have to contain dialogue.

Though sight’s impact on memory has been long disputed, we can confidently say that sight is one of our fastest senses. This is a good thing in an increasingly content-rich world.

Pro tip: To quote the great Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” In other words, identify what you’re trying to visually communicate before you create content. This ground-up approach will guide you as you bring your ideas to life. For example, look at the two tweets below.

Both of these tweets attempt to convey the same message: who the company is and what they believe in. The one on the left uses a powerful image with simple language that does just that. The tweet on the right is far less engaging, and the lack of compelling imagery means the audience learns little (if anything) about the brand.

Video will soon dominate digital communication

If you’ve been paying attention to social media, you’ll know that video is quickly becoming the dominant way for brands to communicate with their audiences. In fact, it’s expected that video will make up more than 80% of all internet traffic by 2021. In fact, the web’s biggest social media platform, Facebook, has made clear their intentions to compete with YouTube for this ever-growing piece of the web.

And it doesn’t stop there. As consumers continue to gravitate towards browsing on their mobile device, visual storytelling through video will become even more of an opportunity for brands everywhere. Mobile video consumption has increased 233% since 2013, with an estimated 90% of on-the-go consumers watching videos on their phones.

Pro tip: Start practicing now. Your customers don’t expect you to be the next George Lucas, but gaining experience with live and prerecorded video is becoming more and more important for brands looking to connect with consumers, as evidenced by the graph below.

(Image courtesy of Statista)

Weary of stepping into the world of video? Give us a shout.

Visual storytelling has high conversion potential 

Fun as it may be to wax poetic about the human race’s tradition of visual storytelling, business owners and marketers have to eventually address one question: Does it increase sales and revenue? In short, absolutely.

Close to 75% of consumers who watch a product information video went on to purchase the featured product. Moreover, nearly 80% of shoppers say they’ve been sold on a product or service by watching a video. This effect isn’t limited to video either. Nearly 70% of consumers prefer email campaigns that were constructed using mostly images.

For businesses, these statistics should make one thing unavoidably clear: communicating your brand, product, or service through visual means can dramatically impact your bottom line.

Pro tip: Use photos, graphics, and videos in your website, social media, and email campaigns. Though it’s not as simple as “show customers a pretty picture of your product and they’ll buy it”, there’s simply too much evidence that visual storytelling drives sales for brands to ignore it. One great example of using visuals to drive sales is the Absolut Vodka campaign, which featured print ads such as this.

This wonderfully simple campaign featured different images from around the world that resembled Absolut’s bottles. It was a smashing success, helping Absolut grow from 2.5% of the U.S imported vodka market to a whopping 50% by the end of the campaign’s 25-year run.

Looking ahead

As brands and businesses look to engage with their audiences in the 2020’s and beyond, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that visual storytelling is here to stay. And with a growing body of evidence supporting the idea that consumers respond positively to it, marketers would be wise to strategize accordingly.

Looking to accelerate your brand’s growth through visual storytelling? Contact us today for more information on reaching your ideal audience with the most effective messages.

About the author

Jake’s career as a copywriter began after a magazine editor stumbled across his personal blog and asked that he start contributing to the publication. Now fully obsessed with becoming a digital marketing expert, he devotes most of his waking hours to honing his writing skills and expanding his knowledge of the industry. Off the clock, he’s a YouTuber, podcast host, and motorcycle enthusiast who loves traveling with his wife and hanging out with his cat, Felix.

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