Our life is a story. Can we make it a good story? A good story has adventure probably happening in the midst of a long journey, challenges, sometimes tragedy, sometimes happiness. It implies us and others entangled in ourselves. Stories spark the emotions held by humans. As humans, apart from our rational side, we have an intuitive emotional one. That´s the side that impels us into enjoying stories.
Storytelling is the way we have communicated since the beginning of history. It´s easy to imagine our earliest ancestors gathered around a campfire sharing tales about heros going on journeys, battling dragons and other evil creatures, looking for the holy grail, or saving the princesses. But there are other stories: the ones we share with one another, which let us learn and know about each other: who we are, what we care about, where we come from, where we are going. It´s through our stories that we spark the imagination of others, letting them visualise in their minds our own personal adventures and experiences. Stories make us connect and empathize with each other.
But times shift, and even though campfires still exist, the stories we share, gathered around those “fires”, come now often from the internet, as we browse it through our mobiles, tablets or laptops. We have moved on, and now, the time is the one of digital storytelling.
Lately, a lot of attention has been given to storytelling as an excelent marketing strategy. As we all know, customers in general are increasingly tired of classical advertising. Who
hasn´t skiped the advertisement videos on youtube, embued with a quick insight how they will be a waste of time? Old advertisement techniques just seem to be not effective anymore. Brands and businesses need to present their information in engaging new ways, and that is where the power of storytelling can be an effective tool, as a way to grab the attention of costumers.
Textual storytelling though, might not be enough anymore. It´s increasingly hard to capture the attention of the customer, already divided between so many stimulating choices. But there is a way to process information that can help us to grab that attention: visual information. Recent research demonstrate that the human brain processes visual images 60,000X faster than tex. Other studies indicate that web content with visuals drive up to 180% more engagement than those without.
To use visual storytelling can then be a very good option.
Recently, various books have been published giving you advice and tips on how to use visual storytelling to advertise your company.
One author that published such a book on visual storytelling in Ekaterina Walter. Entitled “The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand” Walker´s book functions as a guide to businesses. As she says: “Your company may have brand identity and style guidelines, but do you have a strategy to capture attention with visual storytelling ?” Ekaterina runs free webminars that you can attend, where you can get lots of information on how to use visual storytelling effectively in your business.
Another helpful book is the one written by Jason Lankow and Josh Ritchie, also entitled The power of visual storytelling. In it the authors begin by mentioning how the roman poet Horace gave good sound advice on storytelling, that still applies to nowadays world, even if written many centuries ago:
“The aim of the poet is to inform or delight, or to combine together, in what he says, both pleasure and applicability to life. In instructing, be brief in what you say in order that your readers may grasp it quickly and retain it faithfullty. Superfluous words, simply spill out when the mind is already full”.
What triggered them to write their book was their acknowledgment of how branding was changing dramatically, in the landscape of the information age and ubiquitous communication. Serving as an alternative, visual storytelling is arising in the horizon as a more effective way to give information and communicate with the client. The authors pay particular attention in the book to infographics: “ Infographics in many different forms are at the forefront of this new way of thinking. The visualization of information is enabling us to gain insight and understanding quickly and efficiently, utilizing the incredible processing power of the human visual system. Accessing and harnessing this power is not only valuable, but necessary, as we navigate the vast amounts of data presented to us daily.”
Using visual ways such as infographics to convey stories was never so easy as nowadays. Many resources can be found online, that can help you make your own infographics, embellish the photos advertising your products, or even creating short animations to your business.
Be aware though, that you have to write a fantastic storyline so your infographic or animation, truly grabs the attention of the viewer long enough to make a difference.
I will conclude this article with an example of an infographic done by Column Five, that tells a good story, using humour: “Killing time: How to destroy your productivity.”
Maria Fonseca is the Editor and Infographic Artist for IntelligentHQ. She is also a thought leader writing about social innovation, sharing economy, social business, and the commons. Aside her work for IntelligentHQ, Maria Fonseca is a visual artist and filmmaker that has exhibited widely in international events such as Manifesta 5, Sao Paulo Biennial, Photo Espana, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Joshibi University and many others. She concluded her PhD on essayistic filmmaking , taken at University of Westminster in London and is preparing her post doc that will explore the links between creativity and the sharing economy.