Thanks for the article, Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré | @NikkiElizDemere (Hubspot)
Before the days of neon lights and marquee signs, business owners had to get creative when it came to advertising their establishments. In fact, wine bars in ancient Rome used to hang bunches of vine leaves outside their door as a nod to the God of Wine, Bacchus. And when weather conditions left them with a short supply of vine leaves, barkeeps turned to bushes — inns called Bush, or Bull & Bush, still exist today.
But others didn’t even have that. They had to get artistic. And with a largely illiterate population, pictorial signs were the only logical advertising choice.
Visual storytelling — or passing on a lot of information through a relatively simple visual aid — has been a cornerstone of marketing for thousands of years. I’d like to say we’ve come a long way, but really? What worked then works now: We see what we want and we’re driven to buy it.
Perhaps, if anything has changed, it’s what we want from life. That’s where today’s visual storytellers have a chance to not only say “Hey, you can get this here!” but also lead the consumer into a whole new world of possibilities.
Below you’ll find 15 of the very best examples of visual storytelling from B2C, B2B, crowdfunding, and SaaS. These companies know how to tell a brand story that seeds desire, starts relationships, and inspires nothing short of love. Check ’em out.
5 Stunning Examples of Visual Storytelling:
Something grabs hold of me every time I visit Modcloth … which I do with alarming regularity. Sure, part of the appeal is the clothes. But that’s not what has me back on an almost daily basis — just to check.
When I click onto Modcloth’s homepage, I find myself in a world of friendly sisterhood. I see stories of women, like me, who are having the times of their lives. The online retailer presents their visual storytelling as a slider on the homepage. Instead of each slide having its own image, each corresponding to a different sales page or theme, they devote the entire slide series to expanding on one core idea. This spring, that idea was a girls’ road trip.
This series showcases the clothes, but it also tells a deeper story about relationships, female bonding, and a distinctly feminine sense of adventure. These images make me feel part of a tribe of active, vibrant women. After just a few seconds, I’m ready to start planning my own road trip with my best friend — and when I do, I know exactly the clothes I want to pack (just have to order them first).
These aren’t just aspirational advertisements, like those you’d seen in a magazine. These are no catwalk models. Nothing here is impossibly chic, or so stylized that it’s out of reach. That is part of what makes the magic of Modcloth’s particular brand of storytelling. These are stories we could write for ourselves.
Patagonia has one of the strongest brands and most passionate followings. They’re just good people. Every piece of their marketing points to their commitment to quality and a deep integrity and care for the environment. I have no reason to buy Patagonia — you won’t even find a windbreaker in my closet — but I love them as a business. And if even your non-target audience sings your praises, you are clearly doing something right.
Their visual storytelling supports this core story of integrity and environmental stewardship. Each image shows real people (they don’t look like models — it looks like users sending in their photos) enjoying the outdoors, clinging to cliff sides, trudging through snow-covered mountains, or flinging themselves off the sides of yachts in the Caribbean.
These are images that speak to a very specific niche audience. After all, not all of us associate snow, cliffs, or open water with a good time (Jaws? Open Water?). But for their target audience, these are the images that stoke the fires, fill the sails, and send them off into planning their next adventures.
And then there was the Worn Wear campaign. The tagline “Better than new” immediately tells you that this is no ordinary marketing effort. In fact, the “Worn Wear wagon” (pictured above) drives around the country with Patagonia to repair old garments and gear, sell used clothing, and hold DIY workshops. Along the way, they’re also reinforcing the brand’s values and bolstering their community of loyal fans. They spread the word on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter — all highly visual mediums — for brand followers to meet up and mend their garments.
Seems like everyone is on Slack these days … even NASA.
This single piece of visual storytelling on their homepage speaks volumes. And the story it tells isn’t about team meetings or group chats: it’s about ROBOTS ON MARS!
That’s got to be the most thrilling three words a nerd like me can hear. (Right next to “aliens on Mars,” which would be even more exciting. But robots? Still pretty cool.) And this image, with this perfect tagline, tells me that this product enables teams like mine to accomplish something spectacular.
When I see this image, it’s almost as if I’m putting a robot on Mars myself. I must have dropped my NASA badge around here, somewhere …
Internet Live Stats is part of the Real Time Statistics Project and was created by an international team of developers, researchers, and analysts with the goal to make statistics available in a dynamic, time-relevant way to everyone. Their data-visualization team isn’t too shabby either — it’s one thing to read that there were 7,162 Tweets in a single second. It’s quite another to see it.
The visual of 7,162 birds is far more impactful than the header saying “7,162 Tweets sent in 1 second.” It’s a different kind of visual storytelling, but compelling nevertheless.
Nick Offerman, best known for his role as Ron Swanson in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” is not only an actor and comedian — he’s also an accomplished carpenter. And he’s got attitude. This guy has personality, and it emanates from everything he does. No nonsense. Back to basics. Rugged. Bacon. These are the phrases that resonate for Offerman fans, who won’t bat an eye at paying $145 for a “Build Your Own Damn Stool” kit.
Why? Because you’re buying so much more than a deconstructed stool. You’re filling out a membership card to an exclusive group of unapologetic carnivores, manly men, and people who figure that if an Abacus was good enough for their great-grandfathers, it’s good enough for them. It’s an ideology and a fantasy. And all of it comes through in every. Single. Image.
No smiles. Smiles are superfluous. Give that man bacon and you might get a twitch of the lip.
Read the full article at Hubspot Blog.