2018 Visual Storytelling Trends
to Watch For


2018 Visual Storytelling Trends to Watch For

2018 Visual Storytelling Trends to Watch For 369 217 Geoffrey Colon

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When it comes to the evolution of storytelling, it’s important to note just how people are communicating with one another presently and how this could tip over the next few months. So before I lay out the five trends to watch in the visual storytelling space, let’s note three behavioral patterns around communications.

  • People are tiring of mass amplification on mass platforms. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to share their selfies or videos they’ve taken. It’s just that they are turning to SMS, messaging and small clusters of recipients. This shouldn’t be a surprise. The era of emailing a few of your friends a link to a story? Think about that but now remixed more with imagery than links.
  • The phone will still be the dominant creative and retrieval device. Yes, even in an era of AR (which you’ll read about below), a device that is only about 5cm x 12cm is the tool of dominance.
  • People are seeking to feel something. However, brands are trying to measure attribution. When this divide occurs, there is a major loss of translation. So what ends up happening is the brands that don’t worry about attribution as much as evoking feelings are talked about more than those with planned communications that customers sense as overtly “designed.”

With these behaviors noted, it’s important to now take a pivot to what to watch and plan for in 2018 when it comes to your visual storytelling design. I spoke at length about these recently on Cheddar TVand am happy to rehash here.

1. AR – We see AR all over: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. AR is easier to program and design with software like AR Kit for iOS 11 which means it’s not only something to watch, but something to learn how to program. The reason this will be used goes beyond simple PR. It lends to the fact people use their phones constantly and AR can unlock experiences unable to see in 2D. The other big part of this is in terms of customer experience. AR should not be something that lives in a silo but works with customer education, nurturing, relations and influence.

2. Phigital – Those who can tie the physical worlds of storytelling with the digital worlds will control the future in the near term. What I mean by this is designing a website with illustrious content is wonderful, but how do you make that come alive in the physical world? Is it through live roleplaying, alternative reality games or scavenger hunts? No longer should we be thinking of visual storytelling as simply a digital only role but one that lives within both the digital and physical matrix.

3. 3D – Like AR, 3D has taken over our senses. We are very likely to admit we’ve gone to a 3D movie or have watched 3D in a virtual reality experience. Now 3D is becoming unlocked through mobile to create experiences within physical spaces. The reason this is also picking up steam in popularity is due to emojis, avatars and animated GIF culture. What were once 2D phenomenons are now bleeding into 3D to live amongst social networks, video networks and physical art and design.

4. Voice enablement and skills – We have a tendency of forgetting that visual storytelling also includes aural or audio perceptions. It is very likely you are asking more questions of connected devices in 2017 and this will not slow down in 2018. You probably ask a number of questions to Siri, Google Home, Alexa or Cortana. These systems are still learning and producing what is known as “skills.” While visual storytellers may be big on imagery, they cannot forget about the fact behavior is also tied to what we know as ear goggles or headphones. How does one immerse themselves in learning after asking a question? This is still a new area not heavily populated by many that could grow in numbers as audio skills become a larger part of our day to day communication ecosystem.

5. Human Touch – Although bots are programmed conversations as a platform, the ones that have the best usage and response are those trained to sound like humans. The best people to do this are storytellers. Because there are so many nuances in human communication, it’s important for a bot to not look or sound like a machine. The more it does, the less likely people will want to interact with them. We’ve seen hundreds of these bots the past few years popping up on websites and asking “How may I help you?” But now we will see higher ends of programming with visualization, inforgraphics and business intelligence being served up when customers ask us questions. This is key in that no longer will bot communication look robotic, but it will feel more human. Just like someone draws a diagram on a whiteboard in a conference room, so too will bots be able to be programmed to provide this level of interaction.


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Geoffrey Colon

Geoffrey Colon is a compelling voice at the intersection of marketing, tech, and popular culture. DJ, data punk, podcaster and author, Geoffrey is a Communications Designer at Microsoft in Redmond, WA. Colon has written for or been quoted in media outlets including Business Insider, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Billboard Magazine, AdWeek and Entrepreneur. He has also appeared on Cheddar TV, NASDAQ Live, WABC-AM New York and Marketplace on NPR. He is an avid speaker on the global marketing conference circuit and has keynoted events in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, Bangkok, Portland, Raleigh, Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, Oslo and Tromso. Disruptive Marketing is his first book. Geoffrey is producer/host of the video series CULTURE JAMMING on LinkedIn and the podcast DISRUPTIVE FM w/ Cheryl Metzger. He is a regular contributor to Branding Strategy Insider. He is also featured regularly on LinkedIn and the Bing Ads blog. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2013, Geoffrey was vice president of digital strategy at Ogilvy & Mather in New York City.

All stories by: Geoffrey Colon

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