“Next to hunger and thirst, our most basic need is for storytelling.” – Khalil Gibran

I love this quote. As consumers of massive amounts of digital content, we crave a good story now more than ever. We want to be informed. But we also want to be entertained.

Marketers have adapted to these demands by refining the way creative concepts drive action. Over time, these concepts have become faster, simpler and easier to share across a myriad of channels. One of the most powerful ways to develop a concept that drives action is through visual storytelling.

Visual storytelling is communicating a story – persuasively and emotionally – using visual media. It could utilize imagery, infographics, video, motion graphics or audio.

Visual Design

JPL used visual storytelling to bring Graham Packaging’s “Live Design” Process to life on their website.

Proof exists this is important for marketers. A study by 3M showed that 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. In another report by Corporate Executive Board, it was revealed that “emotional” marketing messages beat “promotional” ones by a factor of 2 to 1. This means visual storytelling gets noticed and helps to drives results.

The best visual storytelling is:

  • Fun and engaging
  • Says something your audience didn’t know before, or helps them see something differently
  • Makes their life better in whatever way you define it


But truly great storytelling doesn’t happen by chance. How can you start using visual storytelling in your marketing efforts?

Here’s a 3-step plan to getting started.

1. Decide what impact you want to have and how you can provide value.
Your story needs to be relevant both to your organization’s business objectives – and your audience. What perspective are you lending that’s fresh and thought-provoking?

2. Recruit the right people for the task.
Plan to use writers and visual artists with a track record of crafting a unique voice for a story, and understand how visual media and content work together.

3. Rethink your tried and true avenues.
Starting in social media is a safe playground to test ideas, but dilutes a first-time effort. Instead, seek ways to establish visual storytelling techniques within owned spaces for greater impact – such as your website. Once you have your story in place on an owned space, validate its truth over time in social media – and back it with what your sales team is talking about in conversation.

Lastly, visual storytelling is crafted over time. And everything is better with a plan. Follow these steps to make a relevant and bang-worthy start in visual storytelling.