Storified Guide: Universal Dos and Don'ts of Visual Storytelling

Jana @ StorifyMe June 29, 2020
Storified Guide: Universal Dos and Don'ts of Visual Storytelling

Online or IRL, visuals have this amazing superpower to make people stop and stare. A beautiful view, a colorful illustration, or an impactful photograph can at times completely mesmerize you, and they can do it instantaneously.

Can words do the same? Well, not exactly. An insightful tweet, a touching poem, or a fun article can stay on your mind for days, but they will not “pull” you in as quickly as visuals can. 

It’s only natural, after all, humans are visual creatures, so it’s not surprising that long, chunky paragraphs (no matter how wonderfully written), do have the unfortunate tendency to scare readers away.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in online marketing, where one thing rings painfully true: 

Telling Stories Online Is a Difficult Task

Wait, what? We know. With so many platforms, opportunities, advantages, and tools at storyteller's/marketer's disposal nowadays why would anyone say telling stories online is hard work! Well, because it is - at least if you want to do it in a quality, memorable way. 

Being in business for a while, we have experienced it in our brainstorming sessions on more than one occasion! Storifyme team knows how easy it is to get lost in all the exciting options when it comes to formatting, delivery, style, and interactivity worldwide web offers. The sheer amount of possibilities can seem daunting and never ending. At the same time exhilarating and distracting. 

As we figured out all the ways we can improve upon our visual product storytelling, we became aware of the fact that limitations can be… Interesting if not always good. Don't throw stones just yet, hear us out! 

Guidelines or Challenges Are Welcome!

Sometimes, “sky is the limit” attitude can be a limit itself. It sounds paradoxical, yes, but just think of your high school days when your English teacher gave you an assignment with instructions “you can pick whatever subject you want”. On the surface - it's a wonderful opportunity to express yourself. But when you got down to it, the chances are, even if you’re a creative and eloquent person, you struggled to come up with something interesting. Does that feeling ring any bells? 

That's exactly what's going on here! Constraints force us not only to get our creative juices flowing, but they also help us turn all that innovative energy into something presentable instead of leaving wonderful ideas scattered around, wandering without a clear direction. 

Over time, we discovered a few basic dos and don’ts of visual storytelling that keep us on the right track. If you're interested to know what they are, scroll down to see what they are: 

DO: Make the Customer the Protagonist 

Your audience is the hero of your story. Your brand is the tool, the way to your hero’s happy ending, not the champion on its own accord. Show what you’re adding to the table and how their life would be better with you involved. Present yourself as close to the magical solution to their current problems without sounding pretentious or arrogant.

DON’T: Be Boring nor Ambiguous

Let’s be honest: irrelevant stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with your story or audience has no place in your story.  Your main point should be put front and center, so the people wouldn’t miss it. Don’t make it a buried treasure to be found, because plenty of potential customers won’t have the patience to dig for it. Leaving your best for the end is a risky move. The fast and punchy introduction is the way to go. 

DO: Use Dynamic Imagery

Share stuff that will enthrall your target audience. Utilize the contract, size, and color of visuals in a smart way that emphasizes your core message. You could also shake up your story with user-generated content from time to time. This move will diversify your storified article, Instagram page, or youtube video but it will also encourage other satisfied customers to share their impressions of you and your brand. 

DON’T: Abandon Audio and Text Just for the Sake of a “Pure Visual Story”

When it comes to visual storytelling, you always hear “Show, don’t tell”, and that’s all fine and dandy, but what we think it’s even more important is to “THINK, before you tell or show”. Keep your message visual by all means (we're talking about visual product storytelling after all), but use text and audio if and when needed, without repeating yourself needlessly.

DO: Be Passionate and Thorough 

At the beginning of your creative process, do your research! Read everything about the subject, watch all the videos on that subject. Truly immerse yourself in whatever you want to visually present, collect as much info as possible, notice, and observe how other people approached similar topics, and then start your storytelling journey.

DON’T: Put Trends and Data Before The Story 

This doesn’t mean that you should ignore all the latest news and trends. You should be informed about what’s happening in the world, and if necessary include it in your narrative. However, remember that viral memes are weak topics when left on their own devices. A little funny GIF here and there's a very welcome addition to your online presence, but it’s an extremely shaky pivotal point. 

Besides that, keep in mind that facts can’t warm hearts. No matter how convincing your data is, it shouldn't take precedent over your storified ad...No matter how impactful, if it will overshadow your visual narrative without contributing something meaningful to your narrative, it’s not worth putting in. 

DO: Ask Questions 

Never stop analyzing what you’re doing. Before you start, ask yourself: Does this little story of mine interest anybody? Really? Honestly? Should I share it with the world/my audience? On that note, who’s my audience? Who do I want to reach?   

Examine what is that “wow-factor” only you can offer and how does it influence the world around you; what does it have that other brands/companies/businesses/people don't? Why should they visit your storified store? Which social media platform will fit your narrative and format? 

Be mindful of the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, and why) during the whole process, and last, but not least think of this: How can I make this better? 

If you get stuck somewhere or get question-fatigue, remember that the Storifyme team will gladly help any way we know how! Contact us and let’s develop your story together!