Visual storytelling 101

We’ve heard a lot about “story” in the last little while. Whether you’re a filmmaker, video production house, ad agency, or brand, you’re a storyteller, in some way or other. And with the ascent of video, there’s a new dimension to get your head around: visual storytelling.

Recently video production company Kicker Inc. hosted a Web Video Summit, where a panel explored this emerging trend. Here’s your primer.

Visual storytelling is personal

Storytelling is about conveying a compelling story. Visual storytelling is about humanizing this story and connecting it through video, creating a personalized effect. It’s the human element — not necessarily the concepts of a business — that will encourage viewers to pay attention. Too often, you see videos based on the company’s needs instead of the audience’s. The key is to put yourself in the position of the audience. Why would they sit and listen to you?

Video storytelling is not like “traditional” marketing

Regular marketing is more benefits-driven on the business side. Discussions are generally about your business, your marketing, and yourself. A good visual story removes the “you,” focuses on the audience, and connects with them in a genuine, emotional way.

Be quick about it

One of the most important aspects of videos is connecting with your audience early. In traditional print media, you have 30 to 45 seconds to capture your readers. The stakes are higher with video — if you don’t capture an audience within the first 5 to 15 seconds, you’ve lost them completely.

Push the right button

People don’t have a “buy” button; they have a “story” button. The more we can relate to people, the better the story will be. This idea can be hard for brands to wrap their heads around. But it’s noisy out there and, to be successful, we have to flip the traditional marketing/communications model upside the head. Brands need to be asking “What do you want? What can I do for you?” This is the new model for marketing and communications.


Panel participants included Dissolve CEO Patrick Lor; David McLean, Manager of Marketing and Communications, Mount Royal University; Bob Hearn, Advisor at Pembina Pipelines; and Jaime Wood, Digital Consultant, Evans Hunt Group. Other speakers included Google Canada and WestJet. To see the Tweets from the Web Video Summit, check out #videoYYC.

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