Thanks to the domination of social media, visual storytelling has become a powerful tool in content marketing. But you can’t just slap together a few stock photos and call it a day. Your visual content should be just as intentional and well-crafted as the copy you put before your audience.
Developing a visual storytelling strategy will help your brand cut through the noise, and give it a cohesive look across all platforms that reinforces your message. Let these five principles of visual content guide you as you carefully craft together your brand’s visual story.
1) Humanize Your Brand
No matter the size or model of your business, consumers want to know there are people behind the brand. Whether it’s a candid shot of the talented people working around you, a behind-the-curtain peek at how your product is made or asking for user-generated content, your audience associates a certain level of trust with visuals that humanize an otherwise-faceless brand.
Take a cue from Starbucks, who launched their White Cup Contest a couple of years ago. They asked customers to doodle on their Starbucks cup and submit their image to the contest, choosing a winning entry to serve as the official template for their limited edition cup. Within three weeks, they gathered over 4,000 submitted entries (and a ton of publicity, to boot). The contest just went to show that crowdsourcing creativity to shape a campaign can strengthen your brand-consumer relationship and benefit both sides. Besides, who doesn’t like an opportunity to show off their creative side?
2) Not All Visuals Are Created Equal
The internet is a visual medium where virality is often delivered in the form of images, videos, memes, or GIFs. Since the human brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, it gives brands a leg-up in creating visual content that drives immediate response. If there was ever a time to experiment, the time is now.
Canon’s Facebook page is mainly dotted with gorgeous, high-quality pictures and videos, but on occasion, they offer free downloadable and printable assets, like this funny (scary?) printable clown mask they posted for April Fool’s Day. Cute, timely, and tangible, visual content like this offers value to an audience and can be tied back to the company’s service offerings.
3) Don’t Just Say It, Show It
If you want your stories to create an immersive experience, you need to give your audience a reason to picture themselves there to begin with. Knock down the walls of your brand and allow a two-way dialogue: What are the common questions your audience is asking? What are the interests that drive them to act? What are they talking about, worrying about, caring about? Listen to their answers and leverage their insights to help shape your visual storytelling efforts.
Fiat achieved this in a big way earlier this year with their FIAT Owners’ Stories Project, sourcing fans for personal stories that were later broadcasted on its website and social channels. Fiat regularly shares the stories to help drive a sense of authenticity and community across all of their visual media, a key component of brand recognition.
4) Socialize Your Visuals
Anyone can simply hit “like” on Facebook, but for a user to share a post with their network is a commitment. Sharing content is the modern day word-of-mouth, a powerful referral tool in our digital age.
But in order to benefit from this type of endorsement, you need to deliver on both the visuals and the value. Users don’t share posts just because the visual content inspires an “awe” factor. They share because the material resonates with them or portrays them in a certain way. Take inventory of which kinds of content have received the most shares on your social platforms and work that intel into your future storytelling strategy.
5) Make it Personal
Every digital platform comes with its own set of demands and demographics. Don’t expect a video to thrive in one space just because it succeeded in another. Respect the culture of each platform and tailor your content accordingly. Your audience will catch on if you’re aimlessly spraying the same content across all of your media.
Before you decide which visuals to use, you need to understand the context in which you’re presenting information. The services or products you offer should appeal to both sides of the brain: emotional and rational. When you’re brainstorming your next piece of content, consider how your aesthetic will stimulate the senses and engage a consumer on an emotional level. An effective visual will make people feel first, and think second.
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