Visual Storytelling: the latest, greatest, ancient trend

“Visual Storytelling is a marketing strategy that leverages compelling narratives, placing your customer at the heart of the story, staged with an emotional visual media experience and effectively distributed across your buyer’s journey—in order to empower customers’ lives and drive business results.” – Shlomi Ron, CEO, Visual Storytelling Institute

While the term ”visual storytelling” is fairly new, the idea and execution of visual storytelling isn’t, not even in the context of advertising and marketing.

So what is different now?

With the onslaught of content and the decreasing attention span of the population, we need to use the quickest and most compelling means to attract and keep their attention.


How to make visual storytelling work.

Show, don’t tell.

A set of images (or a single image) can tell a story without any words. Everything on the page should help illuminate the thesis, add to the narrative and push the story forward.


Be compelling.

Build intrigue with an image that encourages the viewer to dive in. Remember: Great stories have conflict and contrast. Avoid overexplaining.


Be authentic.

Avoid the “sell.” Make sense for your brand. Let the viewer naturally buy in. Don’t underestimate your audience; they will spot your insincerity.


Make it move.
Every story should follow an arc of some sort. It may be a short cycle with a single image or a longer sequence that relies heavily on an arc to organize and direct the message.


Develop graphics and images that keep the arc in mind. For example, during the rising action, images could inspire excitement or suspense, while closing graphics often give the audience a feeling of hope or hopelessness depending on the story’s intent.

Great storytelling isn’t easy.

Slapping a few icons next to some type isn’t going to lead to great visual storytelling. Start with the story; give it time to develop and evolve. The writer and designer should be partnered from the beginning. Write, rewrite and refine. Write, rewrite and refine.

Visual storytelling has been around for as long as human beings have; it unites us with shared observations and experiences. For marketers, visual storytelling can distill complex information into an eye-catching, easy to absorb format that will spread your message, define your brand and entertain your consumers—today and for years to come.

For further reading on narrative storytelling:
Read Pat's blog on creative content