By now every marketing expert—for that matter, every student of human psychology—knows we’re all hard-wired for stories of one kind or another.
Stories reach deep into our “caveman brain,” where we share a genetic memory of sitting around a fire and swapping tales about singlehandedly bringing down a mastodon for dinner…or whatever the Neanderthal equivalent of a fish story might be.
In our time, the use of words to convey an idea or story has been overtaken by an onslaught of imagery.
When we consider the value of content in building a brand, it’s no longer enough to hope language, alone, will get the job done.
Chuck Frey, founder of the Mind Mapping Software Blog says:
Visual content has quickly emerged as a powerful tool that can help messages break through the clutter, stand out from the competition and persuade audiences, but only if it’s created and positioned correctly.
Combine brand storytelling and visual content and you have a great method for helping prospective customers better grasp what your product or service is all about—and why it’s something they need to have.
Here are some suggestions for using visual content to boost a brand.
Get People Involved
The most effective brand-building visual content is interactive in nature.
User-generated visual content carries a stamp of authenticity you can’t replicate any other way.
Or, if you’re introducing an upgrade or an altogether new product or service, tell a visual story about how that product or service can best serve them.
Michelle Linn, content development director at Content Marketing Institute, says:
Consumers often don’t know exactly what they want, and are looking for inspiration and ideas. Smart marketers give them plenty of creative fodder, and in the process, position themselves as a brand that says, ‘We’re here to help!’
Linn points to the Callaway Golf series of instructional golf tip videos on its YouTube channel as a prime example of this “educational” approach.
Expand Your Written Content
What brand-building written content has performed well in the recent past?
People respond favorably to articles and blog posts offering “how-to” tips and checklists.
Start thinking about using forceful visual content for a nice refresh.
A little, well-meaning visual seduction works, too.
If your product has a lot of moving parts (too many to comfortably encapsulate in a 10-second video) give people just a taste of what you offer.
Linn goes on to say:
Don’t feel you must explain the entire process or procedure in an image or series of images. Sometimes it’s enough to ‘tease’ readers with an image that encourages them to click through to your website to learn more—just as GE does with its data visualization blog.
Use Fresh Visual Content
Whatever you want to achieve with your brand, don’t rely on stock photography to get the job done.
Consumers are saturated with images, most of which they’ve likely seen before in one form or another.
The best way to breathe life into your brand is through original imagery and graphics that speak to your business in a way custom images can’t.
Design your visuals to lead [readers] down the path to a deeper understanding of your company, product or service, and see how you are uniquely qualified to help them solve their problem or challenge.
Follow a Narrative Arc
For some brands, there’s almost a built-in connection to the traditional narrative arc—that is, our story’s hero:
- Encounters an obstacle that must be overcome
- Is presented with a viable solution (your company’s product or service)
- Arrives (through the use of that product or service) at a fulfilling solution
Those charged with creating brand-building visual content should, Frey says:
…pay attention to the emotion and the desired path you want your audience members to take on their journey toward a purchase, and to make sure your visuals reflect those elements.
With the storytelling technology available today and the multitude of social media channels on which to share it, there’s plenty of opportunities to create compelling visual content that boosts your brand and enhances your reputation like never before.