How to boost brand engagement through visual storytelling

Competing for customers’ attention is a full-time job. Our brains are inundated with messages from the moment we look at our phones after snoozing our alarms, to when we set those alarms again in the evening. ‘Cut-through’ is at this point an overused term but is more important now than ever. Since we, humans, are largely a visually stimulated species, creating eye-catching material that stands out from the competition is vital.

Enter: visual storytelling

This concept involves using images, videos, and other visual elements to convey your brand’s message, values, and identity. Utilising stimulating graphics, videos and animations is a common means of capturing – and retaining – the audience’s attention compared to text-based content. The versatility of visual storytelling also allows brands to adapt their storytelling to different platforms and target different audiences. When done consistently over time, viewers begin to associate certain visuals with the brand, which aids in brand recognition and recall, thereby reinforcing brand identity.

As with your favourite films and TV shows, there are aspects of visual storytelling in marketing that resonate with your audience. It does what it says it will: tell stories. Effective visuals elicit emotion. They can evoke feelings of joy, empathy, nostalgia, or excitement. By incorporating emotional elements into their stories, brands can forge deeper connections with their audience, creating more loyal customers. These strategies can also help in simplifying complex concepts, making it easier for audiences to understand a brand’s message or product benefits.

Engaging you, engaging me

Speaking purely from a marketing perspective, visual storytelling encourages brand engagement – the interactions people have with your brand and its content, be it likes, shares, comments, QR code scans, or website visits and enquiries. These interactions can help increase a brand’s visibility and reach, especially in a digital environment where content is highly shareable. When audiences find visual content compelling, they are more likely to share it with their networks, helping brands reach a broader audience and potentially go viral.

Visual content enhances recall because people tend to remember visual content better than text. What’s more, it can also be used to go one step further, to lead consumers through the sales funnel, driving conversions. Over six categories of content, video and static images combine for the highest 37% when assessing ROI. The other categories, blog posts, case studies, podcasts and other audio, and infographics all ranked much lower.

It’s tradition!

These days, traditional media may not be the first platform you reach for to market your brand but when used correctly they are still powerful. Achieving compelling visual storytelling in traditional media formats, such as print, Out of Home (OOH), and television requires a thoughtful approach that leverages the strengths of each medium. The key, as it should be with all marketing, is to determine your target audience and what message or story will resonate with them.

Maybe surprisingly, by focusing your efforts on television ads, you have the opportunity to reach 92% of Australians. This means you’ll see results if you employ visually appealing scenes, graphics, and animations that enhance your narrative. Incorporate elements that evoke emotions and resonate with your audience’s values and experiences. Use human stories and relatable characters to create empathy and engagement. TV allows you the advantage of timing and pacing – a luxury print media, and even the hectic rush of digital media isn’t afforded. Using pauses, transitions, and well-timed reveals will maintain interest.

While it’s important to develop a compelling and coherent storyline that captures the audience’s interest, it doesn’t have to be overly complex. Take Australian health insurer AHM’s campaigns for example. While basic in their black and white, cartoon delivery, these are effective ads that never fail to quickly establish a main character who draws the audience into a personal dilemma, only to be reassured that their health insurance provider will take care of the tricky stuff.

In Australia, a huge 57% of all news readers still engage with print. With the use of only words and static images, some consideration of the layout and flow of the elements is required in order to foster a relationship with your audience. Your visuals should be high-quality images, illustrations, and infographics, to shape your story.

Better still, consider cross-media methods. Integrate your traditional media storytelling with digital and social media platforms to create a cohesive brand narrative.

Going digital

Largely cheaper and quicker than traditional media, its digital equivalent offers an opportunity to market your brand in your audience’s home. But you’re certainly joining the masses, so how do you craft compelling, scroll-stopping visuals?

The basic principles remain the same as laid out for traditional media, but an added advantage of digital marketing is that your content is significantly more measurable – and at a quicker rate. Give your content the time required to have an impact, but by analysing the interactions and conversions your ads have, you can easily assess its effectiveness. Don’t be afraid to tinker with, or pivot your material, as digital media generally makes this an affordable option.

Use every tool at your disposal

Visual storytelling is a powerful tactic for leveraging audience engagement. But firstly, you have to offer something worth paying attention to. When used strategically and authentically, visual storytelling can significantly contribute to a brand’s success.

For a team that knows how to use visual storytelling to convey your message effectively and create a lasting impression, reach out to SOAK Creative.

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