Over the past fifteen years the advertising industry has been implementing visual storytelling and adapting to the shift towards online content. This has resulted in many affordable marketing opportunities for small and big businesses alike. As many companies transition towards more web-oriented marketing strategies, an emphasis on visual storytelling is becoming increasingly important to a brand’s overall image.
As instant gratification continues to rise in popularity, the most successful brands are starting to take advantage of this trend by using more social media platforms. The use of multiple social media outlets has skyrocketed over the past few years alongside the rapid growth and popularity of visual-based applications like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine. These growth rates highlight the popularity of visual culture amongst consumers while also presenting opportunities for businesses to take advantage of this trend.
While these applications may be similar in function, they each offer different creative prospects. Instagram is excellent because of its increasing popularity and participatory nature. Businesses, entrepreneurs and cultural institutions often use the platform to give an inside look into what goes on behind the scenes. Richard Branson illustrates the lust for adventure that drives his career goals, while GoPro features company videos to highlight their product’s versatility.
In addition, the New York Public Library started an international trend using their #bookface hashtag, which erupted as an internet sensation and vastly increased their online traffic.
These are just a few cherry-picked examples, as thousands of brands have found success through various contests and interactive re-gramming campaigns.
Pinterest is somewhat limited in the sense that it’s hard to make a big impact unless you’re in a niche industry like fashion or the culinary profession. However, what makes Vine fascinating is its nimble relationship with other major social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. While content on Pinterest is difficult to navigate without an account and understanding of the platform, Vine content can be easily shared and viewed through other social media networks. In addition, Vine also introduces a rare combination of instant gratification and creative potential. Samsung demonstrates this dynamic through several ads, including one that illustrates an animated basketball player weaving seamlessly between three Samsung devices.
However, while these statistics show the growing popularity of newer applications, Facebook remains the most popular platform and should almost always serve as the backbone of any successful social media campaign. In order to build on this, several companies and media outlets are beginning to craft more visual posts for their Facebook accounts by combining pictures and text. While many brands use Facebook trends such as “born on this day” and “overheard at,” TIFF took this strategy to the next level by recruiting a graphic designer to craft visual quotes for both their website and Facebook account, receiving a lot of positive engagement in the process.
The influence of visual storytelling continues to entice consumers even outside of Social Media. After announcing a troubling financial year, McDonalds launched an ingenious back-to-school ad campaign that relied 100% on imagery and association.
In addition, we took a similar marketing approach a couple of years ago when we launched a music publication site called The Donut Shop. Working purely off the associations of donuts with vinyl records and the legendary producer J Dilla, we were able to create a visual-based social media campaign that attracted over a thousand followers from four different continents within the first week.
The kind of brand building strategies that have historically been limited to expensive television and magazine ads are now affordably available to businesses and institutions of any size. Social media is a highly efficient, cost-effective way to visually market a business, as long as you understand which strategies and opportunities are relevant for your particular goals. Visual communication is very important for building a modern brand, and those who are incapable of digitally moving forward might soon find that they’ve been left behind.
Do you have any visual branding success stories?