Visual storytelling through videos and photographs can strengthen your inbound marketing strategy. Visual media is crucial to capturing the attention of people in a culture characterized by a need for instant gratification.
Images are highly suited to such a mentality because the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than it processes verbal information. Videos increase click-throughs by 300% and people share video ads 63 times more than they did 10 years ago.
But the appeal of visual information goes beyond the fact that it is easy to process.
Award-winning photographer Reza Deghati says that the “camera is the most powerful tool ever invented.” Visual media crosses cultural boundaries, providing people throughout the world with the opportunity to share their unique perspectives and stories.
Even Radio Needs to Be Visual
As an example of just how important visual media is, even those in the radio business are investing in it.
A significant number of people want to consume NPR’s news in a digital format. The National Public Radio website has over 30 million viewers per month; this is just one example of the current need for every organization to have a digital presence.
The company has adapted by posting online articles and photographs that are relevant to its radio programs, in addition to posting the links to its broadcasts.
The brands that are leveraging visual storytelling most effectively creatively portray universal fears and desires. Here are just a few of them.
Any business whose product actually is a story is under that much more pressure to advertise in a way that is compelling. Audible, a company that sells audiobooks, does just that.
The company’s recent commercials show people of varying demographics listening to audiobooks. They do so while going about the tasks of their everyday lives, such as doing laundry or riding a bus.
As they listen, almost all of the real world disappears while the world of the story they’re listening to encompasses them. A crime scene in a hard-boiled detective novel surrounds a man who is vacuuming his house. He pushes his vacuum cleaner back and forth next to the chalk outline where a body was found while police officers roam the area.
A woman doing her laundry discovers she is in the woods where two lovers are meeting, while a man on his daily jog finds himself running in the middle of a Civil War battle. We love stories because they take us outside of ourselves. Audible does an excellent job of visually depicting the ability of stories to transport us into different worlds.
Common to all narratives is a purpose or goal, as well as some conflict that gets in the way of that goal. Online retailer ModCloth has taken measures to build up the self-image and identities of women.
The company notes that “by the time a girl reaches the age of 17, she has seen over 250,000 ads” and that these same ads show photoshopped, false images of beauty. As a result, ModCloth has committed never to airbrush photographs of its models.
Rather than simply marketing a product to its customers, ModCloth sees its clientele as “community members,” whom brand leaders invite into the story they’re telling. As a result, they sometimes use their actual customers in their advertising. Their goal is to depict “an authentic and diverse portrayal of women.”
ModCloth Co-founder and CCO Susan Gregg Koger says, “‘Portraying women in an honest and realistic way is essential to fulfilling our brand purpose of empowering women to be the best version of themselves.’”
Whole Foods states that its vision is to create a world where “where each of us, our communities and our planet can flourish,” even as we are “celebrating the sheer love and joy of food.” This statement implies there is a danger that we will not thrive, that the world will not flourish, and that we will not experience joy.
The story Whole Foods is telling is that we can overcome whatever forces would prevent us from experiencing all that life has to offer. We can do so through a commitment to quality and through the proper stewardship of wealth and the environment.
The company’s leaders showcase their products’ visual appeal on Instagram and so maximize the platform’s ability to tell this story. Who doesn’t enjoy looking at beautiful pictures of delicious food that is also good for you?
Whole Foods doesn’t need to explain its mission during each advertising effort. Rather, the brand supports its overarching narrative by encouraging followers to “Inspire joy of food.” Fans can do so by posting photos with the hashtags #Foods4Thought and #WholeFoodsFaves.
Coke is one brand that has mastered the art of advertising through telling a story. A case in point would be the company’s commercial titled “Brotherly Love.” The video “captures the unique relationship between brothers, a universal story of love and conflict.”
The minute-long video about two brothers begins by showing the older brother constantly teasing the younger one in different situations.
But when bullies try to take the younger brother’s Coke, the older brother scares them off. There is a pause as he considers taking the younger brother’s Coke for himself. But he decides to sacrifice what he wants and gives it back. He doesn’t resist, however, one last tease of tipping the bottle while his brother is drinking from it.
Coke shows its savvy in that it appeals to a universal experience and the ties of family. The company portrays brotherhood in a sentimental and heartwarming way. That bond, and the conflict intruding upon it, is the primary focus of the commercial.
The video shows the brothers drinking Coke as a normal part of their lives. In fact, the commercial takes for granted that Coke is an integral part of brotherhood. This subtlety is what allows the story to sell the product so well.
Finding Photos and Videos to Tell Your Story
Sometimes you’ll need a quick way to get free images to use for your marketing. There are quite a few websites where you can find copyright-free photos.
Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash are helpful resources for free images, as are Wikimedia Commons, Image After, FreeImages, and even Flickr.
Flickr, of course, has many copyrighted photographs on it, but it also contains quite a few photos (as well as videos) that are copyright-free.
If you’re looking for a resource through which you can bulk download Flickr photos, in addition to backing them up on your hard drive, Bulkr is one helpful tool for doing so. The application allows you to easily download hundreds of photos and videos at a time.
While last year Flickr made it possible for users to bulk download their own photographs, sometimes that feature can be finicky. Also, unless you have a tool such as Bulkr, you will still have to download videos from Flickr one at a time. And as well as accomplishing bulk downloads of significant sizes, Bulkr can even resume downloads that have been interrupted.
Visual Storytelling Appeals to Everyone
Visual storytelling is a key aspect of solid content marketing. How many of us have been stunned by an imaginative photograph only to be even more awed when we see how an artist’s work fits together like the pieces of a puzzle?
You have likely already taken time to determine what values your brand represents. But the more you can unite your sales efforts under one storyline and communicate that story visually, the more powerful your marketing strategy will be.
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