Unless you're still living in the stone age, actually even then visual communication and storytelling were important. The point is, you're not likely to disagree with the fact that these two elements are vital when trying to create a strong brand; this is true whether you're a huge, well known brand or a small start up business.
So, how can visual communication and storytelling kick start your business?
First, let's look at the facts, visual communication is all around us and we process images 60,000 times faster than text alone. Remember the old saying an image paints a thousand words? What's more, images play a bigger part in how we feel about something, psychologists have found that pictures enhance or affect emotions and attitudes. Think about it, you'll probably keep plenty of images of loved ones and special times in your life and won't necessarily have written a lot down about them.
Similarly, storytelling is something we're scientifically designed to love and we've been doing it for hundreds of years. When we listen to a story we become more engaged, it causes our neurons to act as though we are actually carrying out the actions we hear. There is also the human element to a story which means it seems more entertaining and engaging. It all stems back to being toddlers when we learnt faster through seeing and feeling, and the same is true as adults. The reason being we perceive visual images of a story far better through videos and pictures on digital media than we do through text alone.
Based on these facts you can see why brands are using visuals and storytelling to bring their brand to life for their customers. Let's look at some great examples of brands that are using these elements and what you can take away from them to help kickstart your small business.
John Lewis have nailed the art of visual story telling so much so that their Christmas adverts are now classed as a part of the holiday season and are highly anticipated in the lead up.
But let's look at the reasons why, firstly, the use of emotion. If you want your content marketing to be successful find a way to tap into your customers emotions whether that be with humorous, heart warming or controversial stories. Monty the Penguin tugged on peoples heart strings at a time of year when we are much more susceptible to the emotion of penguins looking for love. Also the element of escaping into a child's imagination, bringing back memories of our own childhood at Christmas time.
Next is their none obvious sales pitch. Instead of encouraging you into store with big sales ideas they draw you in with the story of a little boy and his pet/toy penguin which reflects their values as a brand of focusing on the bigger picture. In the case of Monty the Penguin, "Give someone the Christmas they've been dreaming of."
Those cookie geniuses over at Oreo have been using visual communication in a super engaging way, and unless you have been living under a rock these past few years; you'll be aware of their Super bowl blackout tweet sent moments after it happened. The key here, be on the ball and make your visual content relevant.
What's more this is all about sharable visual content; remember a picture says a thousand words which is what is needed on social media. Since photo posts get 39% more engagement than links, videos or text based updates.
It's this knowledge that Oreo have tapped into with their previous campaign "Daily Twist" to celebrate their 100th birthday, where they shared relevant images of Oreos in an array of forms based of what people were talking about at the time.
Most recently, they have used this in their Wonderfilled campaign where they allowed their audience to lead the way by sharing their creative ways of enjoying the cookie. This then led them to create Twitter Vines about "Snack Hacks" - branded #Oreosnackhacks - demonstrating Oreo's versatility.
By taking advantage of the way social media can help them engage with their audience Oreo have really conquered the use of visuals.
Chipotle - Mexican Grill
These guys are another brilliant example of visual storytelling; they use many of the same techniques as John Lewis, emotion and the none obvious sale pitch. However, let's also explore their spot on story of the Scarecrow who is trying to save this dystopian fantasy world one freshly, unprocessed meal at a time.
Why does it work? It works because they have developed a great character that represents their brand and the values they stand for. The scarecrow is a great character because in our real world they're the ones protecting our crops, but in this fantasy world they have been strong armed by the evil crows to aid in the manufacturing of mass produced foods. Luckily, the main character sets out to provide an alternative which is what Chipotle are doing in a world of rubbish junk food.
The second reason is the development of a plot that draws the audience in. Over coming the bad guys to ensure a happier way of eating exists, and doesn't everyone love a happy ending where the good guy out smarts the bad guy?
What's more they have been able to cultivate this character and story into something else to engage their audience in the form of a downloadable video game. Clever!
What you can take away from these examples for your small business is visual communication and storytelling ensure your brand is brought to life for your customer. It allows them a way to connect with you that isn't purely about the sales, and in doing so you will gain their trust.
Remember if you're using still images they should be sharable, relevant and fun; if it's a video use the art of story telling, create good, relatable characters and tap into emotions in some way, and with both avoid the obvious sale.
Finally, take advantage of the other style of visual that we haven't shown here, infographics, these are a great way to engage your audience and are again very sharable.
In the end visuals and storytelling go hand in hand!