5 Visual Storytelling Trends That are Shaping The Future of Communication

5 Visual Storytelling Trends That Are Shaping the Future of Communication - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Pixabay

Visual storytelling is one of the most potent forms of communication in existence today. From films and virtual reality experiences to interactive games and data visualizations, visual stories are revolutionizing the way we persuade audiences with our messages.

While brands and marketers have generally lagged behind filmmakers and the media in the visual storytelling department, this is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as marketing shifts from “interrupting what people are interested into becoming what people are interested in,” in the words of Marriott’s VP of content marketing, David Beebe.

As the Internet of Things and wearable tech take us closer to a perpetually connected world, visual storytelling will be all around us. From having conversations with our favorite characters to playing games that will help feed the homeless, these visual storytelling trends will allow us to live within stories of our making and, in the process, blur the lines between reality and fiction.

Restrained only by the pace of technological innovation, here are five visual storytelling trends that will shape the future of all communication-related fields:

1. Never-Ending Stories

Audiences’ appetites for captivating stories is growing insatiable–so much so that they don’t want to see them end.

Just take a look at the recent trend in rebooting classic movies and hit TV shows and the nostalgia that leads movie studios to make a profit off of these–even if they’re rarely as good as the original.

In line with this demand, visual stories will increasingly run parallel to our real lives. This means that stories will not only occur in real-time, they will also happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This means that if you tune into one of these story worlds in the middle of the night, you may find that your favorite character is tossing and turning or staying up late to catch up on some work.

 

Or in the middle of your lunch, you might receive a notification from this parallel story world stating that your character’s town is under a tornado watch.

In fact, we’re already seeing this trend taking shape on social media. On Twitter, for example, you’ll find Mad Men’s Don Draper tweeting regularly to his 18,000 followers and Homer Simpson amusing his 2.27 million followers.

The growth in popularity of live-streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat, which allow audiences to interact with personalities in real-time, is another indicator of this trend.

2. Hyperreal Storytelling

The future of visual storytelling will not only follow a 24/7 cycle; it will also appear more real than reality itself.

I call this trend hyperreal storytelling, and it refers to the way technologies such as virtual and augmented reality are allowing us to create immersive stories that appeal to several of the five senses.

Some of these experiences are so authentic that they have the power to fool the mind and body into reacting as if living through the real thing.

Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, have already benefited from therapeutic virtual reality sessions that place them in lifelike but controlled situations, fooling their bodies into registering these as positive “experiences” in which they conquered their fears.

If you think this is too far down the road to think about, take a look at Lucasfilm’s next virtual reality movie about Darth Vader. Set within the Star Wars universe, the movie will allow participants to walk around, manipulate objects, touch characters and even influence the outcome of the story. (In line with the previous trend, it will also have a 24/7 cycle that continues beyond the user’s experience.)

3. Connective Storytelling

Audiences who grew up with the Internet don’t only crave interactive experiences–rather than passive spectatorship–they also want to connect with other people, whether real or fictitious.

Three-dimensional, relatable characters have always been at the heart of the most beloved stories, but in the future of storytelling, it won’t be enough for us to connect with characters emotionally–we must also be able to walk a mile in their shoes.

In the VR experience called “Nerve,” for example, users can put themselves in a movie character’s shoes and experience what it’s like to ride a skateboard while holding onto a police car or climbing a ladder from one high-rise to another.

Or in the Project Syria experience, viewers can feel what it’s like to live in a Syrian refugee camp and sit alongside grieving families as they hear deafening gunfire and rockets overhead.

4. Social Impact Storytelling

Related to the previous trend, visual storytelling of the future will also be used to increase empathy for others and raise funds for social causes.

Just like Project Syria, there are already dozens of VR experiences that aim to increase awareness of the plight of those who are less fortunate.

From living as a homeless person to suffering from Parkinson’s disease, these VR experiences are paving the way for storytelling that has an actual impact on the real world.

There are also social games that are used to raise funds for different causes, such as this initiative which urges participants to become real heroes by playing a game that will help raise money for a children’s hospital.

5. Brand Storytelling

When it comes to crafting unique virtual reality experiences, brands are not far behind filmmakers.

5 Visual Storytelling Trends That Are Shaping the Future of Communication - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit IKEA VR Experience

IKEA, for example, launched this VR experience that allows users to walk around and interact with a virtual kitchen. They can open drawers, move objects, change the look and feel of the kitchen and even explore the space from the point of view of a child.

Always the content marketing trendsetter, Red Bull also created this immersive flying experience which allows participants to enjoy a wild, realistic air race simulation.

Authors of Our Own Stories

In line with these trends, communicators of all types, especially marketers, must then strive to create content that is:

  • Interactive
  • Authentic
  • Immersive
  • Impactful
  • Continuous

Although most of us will not be able to assign millions of dollars to the creation of a VR experience just yet, the trend is clear: The stories of the future will not only become more visual, they will empower us to communicate more vividly than ever through alternate worlds and characters so believable they will blur the lines between fact and fiction, between natural realities and invented ones.

 

Nayomi ChibanaNayomi Chibana is a journalist and writer for Visme’s Visual Learning Center. She has an M.A. in Journalism and Media from the University of Hamburg in Germany and was an editor of a leading Latin American political investigative magazine for several years. She is particularly passionate about researching trends in transmedia storytelling.

How to Create a Compelling Six-Second Brand Story?

How to Create a Compelling Six-Second Brand Story? - Duct Tape MarketingWith the proliferation of media and the rapid adoption of digital channels, consumers are bombarded with thousands of brand messages and stories every day. In fact, marketing experts estimate that, on average, people are exposed to over 5,000 advertisements each day, making it harder than ever to gain the customer’s attention.

The reality is that you have six seconds to tell your brand story and make a connection with your customer. Yes, six seconds. A 6-second window to give your customers, your audience, a reason to care, and a reason to want to learn more about your offer. Success in those six seconds depends on the perceived value that your brand will bring to the customers’ lives: the “Why you do what you do.” This message needs to be always refined through the lens of simplicity, clarity and alignment; the three foundational pillars that a brand story absolutely must have to connect and engage with the customer.

The Big Difference Between “What” and “Why”

Why should a customer care? Why should they listen to your story? Wrestling this question to the ground from the customer point of view requires you to go to a deeper and more emotive level of engagement with your customers by distilling down the “why you do what you do” as a company into a “why” that captures the customer’s imagination.

Most marketers focus on the “What”: the product and its functionalities. Whereas the customers are willing to know “Why” that product is so different than all the other options available, and “Why” does it matter to them. For customers, the “Why” must speak to the true impact and purpose that you deliver to their life. It must resonate with the customer in such a way that he or she wants to be a part of the brand story.

With that in mind, here are the top five guidelines to create a compelling 6-second brand story:

1. Start with the Mind of the Customer

Your brand story must be simple, clear and aligned with your customer’s needs and wants. It must be bold and encourage exploration.

2. Simplify a Complicated Issue or Problem

Simplify the essence of “Why” the brand matters, or what is the value that it brings to the customer. Most customers have neither the time nor the inclination to try to figure this out on their own, which is why this question needs to be answered through the simplicity of a great story.

3. Stir Emotion in the Consumers Mind

Give people a reason to care, a reason to buy, and a reason to stay. People don’t buy from making logical, rational buying decisions. They make emotional decisions and then justify those decisions by rationalizing them with facts.

There is a huge difference in whether your audience views your story as just another transactional relationship or a story that emotionally connects with their professional or personal journey.

“Good marketers tell brand stories; great marketers tell them with purpose.”

4. Be Memorable in Striking a Chord that Prompts an Internal Question or Reflection

What do you want people to think when they see or hear your brand? People will be more engaged if they can actually relate to a story rather than listening to fact-laden statements about the wonders of a product.

5. Make your Customer the Hero of the Story

Compelling stories resonates when the audience can put themselves at the center of the story. We must make customers the hero, while the brand assumes the role of a mentor. When your goal becomes participation, rather than control, the hero is more likely to let you into their world [and their story]. You can start by focusing on experience-based efforts for a better customer engagement.

“Make the customer the hero of your story”

– Ann Handley, MarketingProfs

That’s it! Sounds easy right?

Not really… Creating a compelling 6-second brand story can be challenging. It requires a diverse set of scientific skills and an artistic eye. No matter how short the message is, never short-change the depth and richness of the story. And always remember to ask yourself: does your brand story pass the test of simplicity, clarity, and alignment? Can you tell the brand essence in six seconds? Is the story so compelling that it can transform your customer into a storyteller on your behalf?

The Power of Transformational Marketing: Aligning the Story, Strategy, and Systems

 Once you have the Story, the next step is to connect with your customers through formats that they consume, in channels that they use, across every touchpoint in the buyers’ journey. Your customer is not only at the center of the story but also at the center of your strategy.

“Story without Strategy is Art; Story with Strategy is Marketing”

Your Strategy should be a clear path to reach your target audience with the right message, through the right channel, at the right time. It requires ruthless focus and consistency throughout your entire organization, both internally and externally.

Now, all that’s missing to truly transform your marketing is the alignment of the Systems, which is how you communicate that Story to the consumers. It enables you to flawlessly execute your Strategy and measure the return on your marketing investment. All the enabling technologies, employee communications, sales collateral and processes must be fully aligned to bring your brand to life.

This is the secret of Transformational Marketing: Having the right Story, the right Strategy and the right Systems in place to unleash the true power of your brand. Transformational Marketing alters business models by changing how organizations market, communicate, and sell to customers. By providing products and services that actually make the customers’ lives better, companies build valuable customer experiences and transform customers into brand advocates.

How to Create a Compelling Six-Second Brand Story? - Duct Tape Marketing

Dave SuttonDave Sutton is a global authority today on Transformational Marketing– enabling businesses to reach, connect and engage with customers in a way that gives them a reason to care, a reason to buy, a reason to advocate and, most important of all, a reason to stay. He is the founder of TopRight, LLC– a Transformational Marketing firm that helps companies move to the top right quadrant of their competitive frame, and corner the markets where they choose to compete. TopRight’s 3S Playbook model of the right Story, the right Strategy, and the right Systems turns sales transactions into customer experiences that connect and communicate why you do what you do and what difference it makes for your customers. Follow Dave @TopRightPartner.

YOU Are the Message: 4 Ways Branding Impacts Your Bottom Line

YOU Are the Message: 4 Ways Branding Impacts Your Bottom Line - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Media MogulsPR.com

Branding. You’re either one of the few businesses doing it right, or you revere it as some mythical marketing tactic that you’ve never quite been able to master. If you fall into the latter category, it’s time to stop procrastinating and hop on the branding bandwagon. The fact of the matter is, products and services have lifecycles, but brands have staying power.

Multiple studies have shown that brand recognition is a common denominator in consumers buying decisions, especially when it’s a product or service they’re unfamiliar with. Couple that with the fact that many modern businesses don’t have brick and mortar locations, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% to 90% of a company’s value is now attributed to non-tangible assets and you have a very strong case for building brand awareness. In case you’re still not convinced, here are four more ways branding impacts your bottom line.

1. Branding impacts your ability to attract and retain top-tier employees and talent.

It’s no secret that top talent can help cultivate growth in your business. Attracting the right team can mean the difference between complete success and utter failure.

Today’s employees have more knowledge, information, and power at their fingertips than ever before. With so many options, it’s important that your brand is able to cut through the noise and catch the attention of top tier talent before someone else does. Company culture has become a buzzword for a reason. Employees aren’t just looking for a paycheck anymore; employees want to work for brands that share similar values and visions.

An example of branding gone completely right in attracting world class talent is Google. Who hasn’t heard about how awesome Google is to work for? Google knows who their target audience is, is clear about what they stand for, and they’re big on company culture. At the end of the day, that means Google ends up with top tier employees and interns, a very low employee turnover rate, and an extremely high-profit margin. Win, win, win.

2. Branding increases customer loyalty.

Attracting new customers and clients by implementing solid branding guidelines is important. But equally as important, if not more important, is retaining existing customers who are loyal to your company. In fact, 70% of companies’ state that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than attract a new one.

Branding done right not only helps you keep customers, but also turn customers into loyal, raving fans. The fact of the matter is, your existing customers can be your biggest untapped asset when it comes to increasing sales, and also reaching potential new customers. So, it stands to reason that you need to stay at the forefront of their minds to reap the benefits. Seth Godin’s book,‘Tribes’ does a fantastic deep dive into how your personal brand helps you assemble your tribe.

3. Branding leads to decreased price sensitivity.

Research shows that consumers are willing to pay more for nationally recognized brands. Despite having similar products and services to competitors offering a discount, a surprising number of consumers are willing to pay a premium for credible, recognizable brands.

Take the Apple/iPhone/iEverything phenomenon, for example. Consumers who nickel and dime every day of their lives will gladly wait in line AND pay a premium every time a new iPhone hits the market. It’s not because there aren’t similar products available at a cheaper price. Some of them may even be of an equal (or better) quality, but thanks to Apple’s phenomenal job in the branding department, their target market is no longer sensitive to price.

4. The right branding strategy leads to an increased market share.

If you’re one of the lucky businesses that are first to get your brand solidified in your customer’s minds, then you have a distinct advantage over your competition. Being at the forefront of brand recognition in your market increases the barrier to entry for competitors who come after you.

The good news is that even if you’re not first in your industry or niche, you can still capture an increased market share by focusing on branding. You’ll have to be more aggressive in your approach, but you can become a brand that your target market takes into consideration if you focus on brand recognition and help them remember your name.

Bottom Line: Branding = Increased Visibility and Profits

To state the obvious, you can’t build brand awareness without first creating a branding strategy that reflects your company values, missions, and vision. In order to create the brand recognition and credibility you need to improve your bottom line, you must first identify your target market and expose them to your company via multiple channels.

Evaluating the messages your logo, website, and branding guidelines send to your target audience is a good place to start. Once you’ve got those nailed down, it’s time to pinpoint the best channels for getting your brand in front of your target market. The good news is, with the accessibility provided by an always-on internet, it’s easier than ever to figure out where your target audience hangs out and how to get in front of them.

Blair NicoleBlair Nicole is the CEO & Founder of Media Moguls PR, host of the #KickassPR podcast, and Columnist at several well-known business outlets. Marketing and traveling are her passions, and she travels around the world full time with her 4-year-old son, working remotely, and speaking to business audiences of all shapes and sizes.  Blair’s motto is “Kick ass, don’t kiss it!”

Blogging Your Way To a More Powerful Brand

Blogging Your Way To a More Powerful Brand - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Pixabay

The best thing about a blog is that just having one is a step towards creating a more powerful, recognizable brand.Many businesses use content marketing through blogging a major part of their strategy, so you are already ahead of the game

Many businesses use content marketing through blogging a major part of their strategy, so you are already ahead of the game

So how do you become a blogging superstar, and get that brand up and moving? Here are some must-have tips to get started.

Build Bigger, Better Content

The common advice used to be that if you write it, they will come. That hasn’t been the case for a long time now. Creating content is about building something amazing that stands out from the crowd because everyone and their mom have a blog these days. Want to brand through blogging? You better be ready to go for the gold.

Having posts that really push the line will get you further, and one amazing post will equal to about ten ‘meh’ ones. Try expanding out into interesting new territories: slideshows, infographics, comics, expert roundups, series posts, extensive tutorials, etc.

Get Social (The Better Way)

There is nothing quite as annoying as a blog Twitter or Facebook account that only publishes links to their blog. Maybe those posts are incredible, I wouldn’t know…I never click on them. And if you look at the analytics that comes from those kinds of accounts, neither does anyone else. People may hit the favorite or like button, but they will probably forget they ever saved it to read later.

Your social accounts are a way to engage and connect with your potential audience. It is a place to show off your authority, likeability, and the tone of your brand. You should be interacting in a normal, one on one way. That doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) share links, but make it about more than that. Here’s a good list of social media tactics to build your blog and drive traffic.

I would recommend setting your posts to automatically post on social media. Then use a tool like Buffer to remind every few days for the first week. Everything between should be written in the moment.

Brand Through Color

Choosing the right color for your brand is probably the biggest concern as far as design goes. So why do so many brands choose the same color scheme? I have lost track of the number of modern startups that are going with blue, blue-green and green, it is insane.

You want to stand out, but also present an image that is true to your brand. There are some great color wheel tools out there that will let you select a unique palette that speaks to what your blog is all about.

My personal favorites are the ultra-simple Paletton wheel and the more thorough Adobe Color Wheel. The first is a nice way to just get a look at how the different colors mesh together and look in a sequence. You can get any shade or tone between two extremes. The second is great if you want to share your palettes, or look at those created by other designers. The gallery can be pretty inspirational. Head there if you are having trouble deciding on what colors to use.

Build Your Own Assets

Don’t spread yourself thin: It’s easy to focus on social media activity (which brings results at this very moment) and forget about building something long-term and solid that would become a solid traffic source one day.

An essential brand asset you should start with is definitely an email list: Your subscribers will become the core of your community, coming each time you call them.

GetResponse is the most efficient platform to build an email list. Its automation toolset is impressive and lets you automate your communication with subscribers in a most powerful way. Besides, GetResponse has come up with powerful marketing tools including webinars, analytics and landing page creator empowering your email marketing.

Blogging Your Way To a More Powerful Brand - Duct Tape Marketing

Spread Your Authority

Whenever someone tries to claim that guest blogging is dead, I roll my eyes and submit my latest guest post to one of the many sites I am lucky enough to work with. Guest blogging is one of the easiest ways to spread your authority beyond your own blog, connecting with audiences who are interested in what you have to say, but may not have come across your site before.

Branding is all about authority, because you have to prove you are the best of the best, and no one else competes. Writing for other sites that readers already trust is a great way to do that.

Monitor Your Brand Effectively

You have got to be able to properly keep track of what is being said about your brand, and to be up on the latest 411 at all time. Having a couple of tools on hand will make that a lot easier.

Google Alerts is a must use app for reputation management all across the web. It will keep an eye on reviews from other sites, Yelp comments, even obscure mentions on little forums and message boards. You will always be able to watch, and (if necessary) comment.

Cyfe is an all in one business dashboard that pretty much does anything you want it to. I like it for watching social media, analytics for different pages, and finding out what content is most popular. That helps me to narrow down my brand focus and start catering to what my audience is responding to.

Blogging Your Way To a More Powerful Brand - Duct Tape Marketing

Get That Editorial Calendar In Order

This isn’t exactly a branding tip, but it is a blog management tip. Which means in the grand scheme of things, it applies.

You should have an active, well-maintained, organized editorial calendar in place at all times. You can just use an Excel or Google Drive spreadsheet if you like. But I like Trello for the job since it is so easy to edit, share, get comments, assign tasks, and just about anything else you can think of.

It is one of those tools that is there for one thing (project management), but can be customized to fit just about any need.

Do you have any advice to add on branding your blog? Let us know in the comments!

anna foxAnna Fox is the blogger behind Hire Bloggers, social media marketing enthusiast, and stay-at-home mom.