The Cost of Creating Meaning
Now that we’re served more than 5,000 ads each day, our communications must be as efficient and effective as possible. Working in advertising and design, I’ve learned visual storytelling is the path that best leads to successful transactions, brand interactions and changes in behavior.
But, why? And more importantly, how?
As George Dyson, one of the best-known technology historians, once said, “information is cheap, but meaning is expensive.”
And meaning is what we attempt to create through visual storytelling. It utilizes a language that is easily understood. It requires that we build an emotional connection in seconds. Boil down data, details and history into a simple image or graphic. Choose colors and craft copy that come together to tell the audience what it needs to know quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, with an emotional undercurrent.
Studies have shown we are incredible at remembering pictures. What we see sticks with us far longer and more reliably than what we hear or what we read. Otherwise known as job security for this graphic designer.
So how do we communicate effectively in the visual space? We find out how we can tell our clients’ stories through effective and consistent branding. More than just pictures, colors and a logo, a company’s brand tells their story visually. It’s what differentiates them from competitors, generates feelings and connections, and synthesizes all the favorable perceptions of who they are and what they do. The goal is for all of the parts and pieces to tell a coherent, consistent story and history that draw people in and move them to action.
With our client Echoes & Reflections, we had an enormous story to tell. When tasked with rebranding the premier resource for Holocaust education, we needed to create a visual language that spoke not just to the brand’s history, but history itself. Their logo needed to tell the story of where the brand had been and where they wanted to go. Reflective, yet forward-facing.Of course, a logo is just how you introduce your brand to the world. It’s like saying, “Hello!” But your brand has so much more to say, which is why we created a visual toolkit that guided our process for creating all the assets we knew we needed to roll out. It includes colors, patterns, shapes, images; the parts of the story that convey all the right emotions when you come in contact with the brand, whether it’s an Instagram post, a visit to the website, a fact sheet from a conference or a handout during class.Five things to consider when you are crafting the language of your brand story:
- What do I want to convey? Brand narrative is important to establish early in the process and sets the tone for the brand.
- What is the medium, and how is it used? I make sure every part of the story complements the visual narrative and engages the audience along the way.
- What are the visual shorthands to include (or avoid)?. I don’t want to offend or use imagery that is overused or could appear tone-deaf.
- What are the most appropriate colors? They elevate and bring out the appropriate emotions you want the brand to convey.
- What can I cut out? Not every message or visual will elevate your brand.
When you see a piece of branding, and you feel something, you know you’ve accomplished something. That’s what visual storytelling does. All of the parts working together, inspiring you to act.