A picture is worth a thousand words. Behind this age old saying, stands an equally lasting fact that our brains can wrap up a sum of information in one visual scene. Thus, making visual storytelling ideal to communicate a brand narrative. So, now that you’re introduced to the idea, let’s run through 5 ways to master it.
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1. Check yourself, before you wreck yourself:
The narrative has to be strong in your visuals for the story to make sense, but don’t dumb-down your message either. One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt as a designer, is to stop treating your audience like they’re “air headed”. You don’t need to S-P-E-L-L everything out for them. They are more than capable of receiving and processing visual information, just like you can. BUT make sure you have a strong narrative as backbone.
The easiest way to test your narrator skills is by asking a group of people to review your artwork. Question how it made them feel, what they think the visuals represent, ask them to describe the story they see in front of them, and if the feedback is overwhelmingly similar, congrats! You are currently mastering visual storytelling.
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2. Visual psychology:
Before your head is in it, your heart is. Studies have proven that people process information with their emotions first and logic only kicks in afterwards. Your audience is waiting to find a relatable, human connection in your story, so give them exactly that.
Remember Titanic? Have you ever REALLY thought about the impact that Jack and Rose had? Without these characters, the story would have been a documentary, leaving the audience without an emotional connection and no real feelings of loss.
Introducing visuals of human relationships is a clever way to really capture a desired emotion from the viewer. You can even take it a step further and work in colour psychology.
3. Follow the arc:
Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The storytelling arc was originated by novelist, Gustav Freytag, who divided the structure of a story into introduction, climax/conflict, and resolution. Your visuals need to narrate each of these points to communicate an impactful story to your audience.
The last thing you want is to cause confusion in your brand and message, so stick to the arc of storytelling that’s been practiced for thousands of years.
4. Make it memorable
In this day and age, the amount of information being produced can be overwhelmingly forgettable. Asking someone what they looked at on social media a second ago can be as daunting as the question “what did you have for dinner last week?”. So, make the story stick!
Think about an ad or social media post that really stuck with you. And how much are you willing to bet that the memory you’re thinking of right now is accompanied by a strong visual story? Find something unique about your brand and incorporate it into your narrative.
It’s time for the visuals to do the talking. Good visuals will not only grab the attention of the viewer, but it will also stimulate your senses. Certain imagery can provoke nostalgia, triggering a memorable sound, smell, or taste. Have you ever seen a Nando’s advert and didn’t taste the plate?
It’s valuable to have knowledge on what imagery will not only agree with your story, but will truly capture the experience and project the feeling onto the audience. This is all about making your viewer feel as close and involved to your brand as possible.
Now that you’ve tested the reliability, used visual psychology, followed the storyteller’s arc, ensured that it will be memorable, and put it into visuals, you are ready to share your story with the world.
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