Visual Storytelling in Advertising
Most people are familiar with the basic format of storytelling, which are the same for visual storytelling.
Climax or Turning Point
Pretty simple when you think about it. This is the framework for virtually every movie or book you’ve seen or read.
One could argue that stories are the greatest gift to mankind.
I say this because stories give us the ability to forget everything in life for a short while. I find the best way to decompress from a stressful day is coming home and turning on a short sitcom. If not for the commercials, those 30-minutes could be the best part of my day.
It’s hardwired in our nature to gravitate toward stories. Whether a 30-minute sitcom, a 2-hour feature film, or 10-hour book. Maybe even an entertaining friend captivating you with their latest and greatest adventure. If you think about it, stories are life. They are everywhere from your history books to the billboards you see on the side of the road.
You might ask yourself, “How can a story be embedded in a roadside billboard?”. But storytelling happens in marketing all the time. In fact, a well-designed advertisement can actually captivate the mind and allow your imagination to create the intended story.
A Realistic Example
One simple example is a person sitting on a beautiful beach, facing the ocean and drinking a refreshing beverage. Although you know you’re seeing another person, your imagination takes the wheel and helps you see yourself as that person. You begin to lose yourself thinking about being on that beach, enjoying a beverage. But then you take the fantasy a step forward with a scenario about how you landed on that beach. Before long, you go even further and dream about what you did after visiting that beach. The story continues to get better and better because it becomes your story. You are the star.
Finally, when you come to, you’re standing in line at a store, waiting to purchase the beverage from the advertisement. That beverage now represents a happier you and the advertisement served it’s purpose. Now, not all advertisements manage to work that way, but that is the ultimate intention. Make people feel that they are the hero of a story and that your product helped them accomplish their goal.
Learning Through Narratives
Now, let’s explore how storytelling and learning are correlated. Do you remember how you learned your first language? Most likely not, but there is a good chance you remember the first several months at your current job. In both of these cases, the teaching method was storytelling, in a sense. With language learning, you were thrown in the deep end and forced to observe story after story until you began to recognize word patterns and structures. Eventually, this became hardwired into your brain and now you speak without even thinking. Which, of course, can be a good or bad thing.
As for the example of your first months at a new job, the same is essentially true. Even though you knew beforehand what the job entailed, it can still take months to perfect protocol and integrate into company culture. Believe it or not, these skills were hardwired into your brain because you personally witnessed story after story. There’s a good chance you could quit today and pick up almost where you left off twenty years from now.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin. Think back to your high school physics course. How much of the material can you actually recall? Sure, you might have received an ‘A,’ but look where that brute force, rote memorization got you. For those of us not in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) field, we stopped using the knowledge and we lost it. However, it could have been different if our teachers would have utilized a story-based learning method and understood its benefits. You can take a story with you everywhere for the rest of your life. But random facts and concepts eventually become jumbled and forgotten.
Try VTR Learning’s Visual Storytelling Courses
This is what we do at VTR. We teach anyone who wants continuing education or needs to learn business through visual storytelling courses. Taking the place of an intern at a company called Central Products, learners gain a wealth of realistic experience. So, in a sense, they learn business by doing business. Check out our full catalog for more information.
Article written by Vaughn Pourchot
Last updated March 14, 2023