PICTURES AND WORDS: VISUAL STORYTELLING AS A MULTIMEDIA TREND
Human beings have been fascinated by the idea of stories being represented in a visual form since time immemorial.
Any and every history book attests to this fact, telling us about people from prehistoric times recording their lives and stories in the form of cave paintings, of ancient Egyptians with their pictograms (hieroglyphs).
Papyrus scrolls, or Europe with the vast number of art pieces inspired by oral and written storytelling traditions, or even sculptures and carvings in temples or stained glass window paintings in churches.
These visual depictions of stories have endured through the years, and to this day there are people who study them to try and understand the story behind the art.
Despite being rooted in the fine arts, this trend has evolved in the past few centuries into more obvious formats such as the motion picture, while traditional hand drawings on paper or canvas have transitioned onto their digital counterparts in the field of multimedia.
Before we delve into the digital world, however, let us understand what visual storytelling is.
As noted earlier, visual storytelling is the representation of a story or narrative through some form of visual media and multimedia.
Also known as narrative storytelling or a photo story, it ignites imagination, inspires emotion and encourages the development of aspirations in the viewer.
While the concept has existed for centuries, the term is relatively new and has gained traction in the past decade or so with the advent of digital and new media.
Visual storytelling often includes a series of images or a video in order to portray the core message.
In today’s context, visual storytelling is a term most commonly found in the marketing and communications world.
Can be described as a marketing strategy that communicates powerful ideas in an interactive and immersive manner by means of a compelling story arc that will appeal to the potential customer.
The key points here are interactivity and customer (or consumer) immersion, and an underlying narrative to the presentation that enforces the central idea behind the product or service.
The main goal of visual storytelling today is to create profitable customer engagement for the marketer. The reasons for this are manifold:
Population boom, leading to demand for more content.
Dramatic increase in content production, as a result.
Decrease in human attention span, due the increase in engaging content.
Faster processing of visual image-based input in the human brain; research shows that images are processed several thousand times faster than text.
Information presented in the form of a story is more appealing to the human mind.
People today are more interested in experiences, rather than simply products or services.
Take a moment and think of your smart phone.
It’s the easiest example of a product that gives you an experience: from communicating with family, friends, or colleagues, playing that latest game, surfing the internet.
Keeping up with the news, watching films and television shows, taking photographs, navigating the roads and exploring new places.
All of it is possible on that pocket-sized device.
So that urge you feel to change your smart phone when a newer, more ‘feature-rich’ model is released is because of that driving quest that we post-modern humans have for new and pleasurable experiences.
Another good example is VR gaming.
Virtual reality allows the user to step into a different world, so to speak, by ‘changing’ their surroundings into whatever is being projected into the headset view.
Game developers have taken this to the next level by integrating motion capture technology into game controllers, allowing the player to experience the game as though they are a part of the environment.
To better understand how it works, you can read our recent article on VR kits.
For the marketer, all of this means that the challenge lies in creating content across all multimedia platforms (digital, as well as print and broadcast) that will engage and satisfy the needs of the potential customer.
Companies today are shifting more aggressively to audience-oriented policies of action.
Since the thirst for an impactful story has remained ingrained in our nature for thousands of years that is the road to take.
In addition to simply telling a story, including elements of social change and positive environmental influence create vulnerability and highlight the humane side of a business, which boosts the image of the marketer to a great degree by inspiring trust and empathy in the audience.
For successfully telling a visual story, it is absolutely necessary that proper planning is undertaken.
From the message that needs to be delivered to the viewer, to the presentation of the content, every step needs to be planned properly keeping in mind the goals of both the medium and the marketer.
Inspire emotion and invoke trust in order to create a connection, and then cater to the audience’s needs through the product or service being marketed.
The internet serves as the most prolific platform for information exchange in the world today.
As a result, marketers are experiencing the need to keep up with the flow and transition to the digital world.
Most of the multimedia like print media, electronic, educational institutes, hospitals and other product and service providers has a digital presence in addition to their physical one.
A lot of businesses operate almost entirely on digital platforms, and many are devoted to establishing digital presences for others.
This global transition to the digital space in the past few decades has created a need for different forms of digital content, also known as multimedia.
This includes text-based communication, audio-based media such as music and radio broadcasts, as well as visual media like photographs, advertisements, motion pictures and video and virtual reality.
The global community thrives on such content on a daily basis, and the very nature of visual media ensures that it will have an effect on people across all sorts of cultures and through time and generations.