Visual Storytelling Techniques to Sell Anything

04-Jun-2019 10:42 AM Content Marketing

Stories influence public opinions about brands. Visual stories are the go-to means for brands to reach out to an audience with decreasing attention span. Explore how to craft visual stories and how they can be a game-changer for your business.

“A picture is not worth a thousand words,” said no one. A picture accompanied with an underlying story is more powerful than a few lines of text. Images help break the monotony of reading a wall of text. Image-based content is not the most used form today, maybe because it is harder to create and time consuming. But it surely pays off.

For example, Instagram has become a powerful platform to post brilliant visuals accompanied with a writeup. The platform has more than a billion users today, and the number is climbing. Despite the high number of users, Instagrammers who post powerful photos along with the story behind them garner a healthy following.

Some credible Instagram personalities have used this medium to post brilliant visuals and have gained millions of followers. Celebrities too have entered the Instagram bandwagon. Brands have used these Instagrammers and celebrities on Instagram to promote their products who command a hefty fee.

To put things into perspective, Kylie Jenner, model and businesswoman, earns $1.1 million per post followed by singer-entertainer Selena Gomez at $800,000 per post, and Portuguese football star Christiano Ronaldo at $750,000 per post.

Look at some picture stories these global celebrities have posted. The lesson is to use visual storytelling in marketing anything from jewellery to clothes to cars in order to:

  1. Resonate with the audience.
  2. Get their attention quickly.
  3. Connect on an emotional level.

Why is Visual Storytelling Powerful?

We retain visuals longer because our brains are good at retaining images. We retain only 10% of what we read because our brain sees written letters as tiny images. We take time to recall them a few days later or in most cases have completely forgotten them. For instance, we recognize Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa when we see it, but don’t recall information such as the year of birth or her city of origin.

However, with videos, the percentage of how much we can recall increases to 65%. We do better when we follow instructions with illustrations than with only instructions. This is why educationalists are prescribing audio-visual learning in schools.

Visual Storytelling Techniques


1. Show the story instead of telling

One unwritten rule of storytelling is that you must show scenes. Join any storytelling session and you will see the best storytellers show what happens in their story, not just read out some lines. In marketing, show the benefits of the product you are advertising. Showing someone using your product will do wonders for your marketing.

2. First impression matters

First impression matters in visual communication because a human brain is designed to make a quick impression. Your creative must have an appealing first image. It will take only a few seconds for the audience to decide if the visuals are worth their time or not.

3. Arrange visuals hierarchically

Hierarchy is an important part of a visual story. In an image, the most important items of your story must be the biggest item and they must be the closest to the top of the screen. This way, the audience sees them first and move on to the next ones.

4. Use colors in the visuals and take advantage of light

Certain colors used in creatives induce certain moods in people. Use the right color schemes for the right emotion. Like color, using proper lighting has its advantages. Darkness in the picture signifies mystery while brightness signifies safety.

5. Follow a narrative arc

A story must have a narrative arc like a novel, that is a beginning, a middle, and an end. It must take the audience on a journey. It must also have a revelation or a climax, which is most probably at the end.

6. Audience loves a good conflict

The protagonist who reaches the destination has definitely had a nice journey. But showing the protagonist jumping over obstacles or overcoming hard times will make it more interesting. In marketing, talk about a problem and how your company’s product will solve the problem.

7. End with a key takeaway in the creative

Creating a bland photo or video without a message will be easily forgotten by the audience. The message or the key takeaway of the visual story must hit the audience hard.

To conclude, visual storytelling will connect audiences and engage their attention. Visual storytelling is a way to spruce up content with a little art. It is possible to get better at storytelling with practice. Applying these techniques discussed above will keep the audience truly riveted.