Brand messaging has existed almost since the beginning of advertising itself. In essence, brand managers want customers to appreciate an offering and to recall the brand when it's time to purchase that product or service.
So, it is important to have brand messaging to help remind customers of that offer. Visual storytelling is an essential part of that messaging.
To be visual is not the same thing as telling a story. Very good storytelling involves a line of thought that connects words and images to an overall message you want leave for that person. Providing images that just push a message is not going to appeal to the target audience.
Why Is Visual Storytelling So Compelling to Marketing Strategy?
The answers lie in the three ways visual storytelling enhance brand messaging.
First: Visual storytelling can convey ideas more simply than words. Too much verbiage overwhelms a person's ability to take in information. Yes, people can read, and sometimes reading text can trigger a deeper mental appreciation of information. But text on some digital formats can appear excessive. People have learned to skim. Given the number of media that people are surrounded with these days, customers don't always have enough time to read a message in full. Thus, you need efficient storytelling to attract their attention which is where visuals come into play.
Second: Visual storytelling strengthens the delivery of a message about a product service or brand is given. Because ideas are conveyed simply, visual imagery reduces the cognitive load for a customer to understand a message.
Third: Visual storytelling incorporates the technological evolution of how video and images are delivered. As time moves forward, technology evolution and human behavior subsequent of that evolution has produced more ways for brands to be visual and drive interest in a product service or event. The quality of images has been raised thanks to digital, making it possible to incorporate images from almost anywhere. Meanwhile visual video can also be captured from everywhere, with terrific recording quality and something simple smartphone.
Thus, good content marketing uses visual storytelling as a foundation for combining text with visuals to deliver a brand narrative.
Here are some quick ideas to arrange the right visuals for that foundation:
Keep a Single Source of Image Truth
Just like you have a single source of version truth for written text, set up a handy storage where you can find your main images. That may be on a laptop. It may be something as easy as Google Drive or another online drive. You can still have images in local platforms such as Canva, which you can edit for social media, or Lucidchart, which is for crafting special graphics. The idea is to keep a convenient access to images that you use the most, the ones that convey a message of benefits to your audience.
Don't Break Messaging Intent
Be careful of deploying media that breaks messaging intent when incorporating statements that speak to current moments. For example, memes are terrific for fun and humorous entertainment. But some public events have complex cultural history which are never completely captured in a meme image.
Memes simplify and distill the message so narrowly that an image can be insulting. The result is a distraction away from a positive mental image which you are trying to establish with your marketing.
Use A/B Tests to Refine Image Selection
One optimization technique that can guide image selection is A/B testing. An A/B test can confirm if a different image can lead to a significant lift in metrics. You can create a test to determine if an image choice, video length or a slight change in message phrasing, gains more conversions, indicating that a stronger story is being received among customers.
You can create a test to determine if an image choice, video length, or a slight change in message phrasing, gains more conversions, indicating that a stronger story is being received among customers.
Related Article: Why Your Culture of Digital Experimentation Is Failing
Leverage a Social Media Content Calendar
A calendar is just a schedule, while a narrative puts events along a timeline. The calendar should allow marketers to spread elements of a story over time. This means identifying hashtags and thinking of images. Reviewing content performance in the analytics reporting can lay out a pecking order for which media channels should be addressed first or which content could be reimagined (I cover a few techniques for doing this in my post on repurposing content strategy).
Picking an effective image or video has always been essential to good visual storytelling. Another essential is maintaining a straightforward message. The ability to convey a message has become more complex as media channels have expanded over the years and as digital campaigns appear across networks. But marketers can keep that complexity at bay through recognizing what connects imagery to the narrative about their products or services.