Visual storytelling: A game changer for brands
At the turn of every generation, we see the marketing framework undergo an upheaval. The paradigm change often follows from technological and social changes that affect the market. The relationship between a brand and its audience has seen many changes over the past decade. The technological changes have certainly had an effect on the way we engage with our audience. One might argue that the use of images in print and on television is not a recent trend and has been in practice for ages. This is where the current trend of visual storytelling differs markedly. It is not a culmination of isolated campaigns designed to get the reader’s attention. It is a systematic and interlinked process that conveys a brand’s message through visuals across mediums. The unifying factor is the core brand philosophy. This underlying message is the reason why brands are able to string together impactful visuals to give one sustaining image of the brand.
One picture, a thousand words
Scientifically speaking, the human brain retains information visually 90% of the time. Your audience may not remember the long paragraph on Facebook but is unlikely to forget the single image on Instagram. The reason is simple- it is easier to recall one frame than a scattered group of words. It is for this reason that a brand that uses images, videos and infographics will have a higher recall rate. Not only does it help in capturing the audience’s attention but it is also retained in their memory. It increases engagement with the audience that ultimately leads to brand loyalty. The Dove Real Beauty campaign in one instance of how powerful imagery can take your brand beyond a mere product. It managed to strike a chord even among those who were not Dove users. While the message of the campaign had a major role to play, we can not ignore the vitality of the medium in this. It generated a buzz among the audience while driving the brand’s key message home.
Gives your story life
The best brand stories revolve around the customer and not the product. A brand is competing for the customer’s attention across portals and must stand out. It is not enough for the brand to have a story, its execution is of paramount importance. The visual medium has a unique focus to it that words do not. It elicits a strong reaction from its viewers as it allows them to process a huge amount of information in a short time. A study from MIT pegs the processing time of an image to 13 milliseconds. It offers a simplicity to your message that elevates it from the content heavy messages of the market. Apple makes the best use of the visual medium where they emphasize Aes for their brands. National Geographic uses VR to create interactive content for their readers. They employ the natural
sounds and arresting images to give the audience more than just static images. This kind of storytelling further reiterates the brand’s ideology and retains its audience.
In the fast-paced life that we lead, a brand has less than 5 seconds to capture the mind of its audience. Brands that are predominantly visual often perform better than others because they are able to capitalize on the limited time that they have. The less is more adage applies to both the message as well as the firm’s ability to make an impact. Pie charts and statistics become smart infographics, product specifications become a video. This helps the brands’ crunch data in a form that is easily consumed by the audience. Traditionally, brands had a tendency to invest in long-drawn-out campaigns. However, as attention spans and with it, recall decreases, brands are finding it harder to hold the consumer’s interest. With every click, other brands are competing for their time. Here is where visual images help to create a story in the minds of your audience. When your visual brand strategy follows a common pattern, it creates a recall value and familiarity in the minds of the consumer. This will help the brand cultivate a strong following and stay ahead of their competitors.
Whether it is a matter of science or simplicity or just a product of the change in technology, the visual medium has truly changed the way brands communicate with their audience. From large print ads to 140 characters, from month-long campaigns to Snapchat promotion, we see a drastic change in brand storytelling. Firms are increasingly relying on the visual medium to grab the attention of its consumers. As we enter an era where information is plenty and accessible, it has become increasingly difficult to capture their attention. With multiple social media platforms and brands, it can prove a Herculean task to cut through the chatter to get your message across. Each medium has its own language that is not easily navigated. Brands have to work really hard to ensure that they are able to connect with their target audience. The visual medium has emerged as an effective medium that is a combination of brevity and impact. Their appeal lies not only in their aesthetic but also in their ability to entertain and inform. They said a picture is worth a thousand words, they were right.