How to Come Up with Great Visual Stories?

How to come up with great visual stories?

How to Come Up with Great Visual Stories?

How to Come Up with Great Visual Stories? 366 222 Shlomi Ron

How do you come up with story ideas to bring to life your brand narrative?

Finding inspiration to support your brand’s goals, while at the same time satisfy your audience’s needs – could be tough.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Take for example, how I came up with the idea for the Brand Storytelling Train series on Instagram.

Since I read the New York Times on my iPad every morning with breakfast, I came across this rich visual story, featuring a rural Canadian train – in the protagonist role – that weaves together diverse human stories along its track.

The same day, I shared a post about this story on LinkedIn. It simply talked to me, even though at that point, I didn’t yet know why.

A few days passed.

But one early morning, still in bed, a photo of the Jourdain family waiting to board the train at the side of the tracks – got stuck in my mind.

Tshiuetin Railroad Canada (Source: New York Times)

Tshiuetin Railroad Canada (Source: New York Times)

I realized this train is essentially connecting people and stories along its journey. Wait a minute, this could be a great visual metaphor for the buying journey and the different stories brands could tell at each stage.

When you think about it a customer’s purchase journey follows the classic 3-act story structure: Setting, Conflict, and Resolution.

Perfect function and form match!

It works great with VSI’s narrative of creating visually compelling content that helps brands learn how to connect better with their audiences.

Since I know from working with clients that there is a lot of confusion about the different types of stories brands can tell who, when and how – I figured this could be quite valuable.

And that’s how The BRAND STORYTELLING TRAIN, a 5-part Instagram Live series – came about.

For the past 5 weeks, I explored every Friday at 2:02 PM ET (trains’ typical weird departure times) the various stories brands can tell their audiences at each of the 5 stops of their buying journey: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Adoption, and Loyalty.

The promotion copy also continues the train lingo:

Passengers for the VSI Live! show, your next #BrandStorytellingTrain to DECISION
is arriving TODAY at 2:02 pm ET departing from VSI’s IGTV platform:

Catch VSI's Brand Storytelling TrainMissed our Brand Storytelling Train series on Instagram? You’re in luck!
Watch all 5 replays of that exciting ride on VSI’s IGTV channel

I picked Instagram Live vs. Zoom or other live streaming platforms because I liked its casual vibes vs. a formal Webinar experience. Not to mention, the ability to interact with attendees.

I’d also say this, as it’s a common misconception, your videos don’t need to be perfect, they need to deliver value wrapped with your personality. So just be yourself and any hiccup in your delivery will just humanize your story and help build empathy with your viewers.

It also jived with my goal of creating snackable content that balances detailed content with a taste for more. Each ride=episode lasts 20 minutes on average.

From a visual design perspective, I used Canva to build a “broadcasting experience” with ambient video background, and a blackboard on which I presented 3 types of stories you can tell at a specific stage of the buying journey.



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As you see in the example above, the typical structure of each episode follows the same flow:

  • An opening slide to break the ice
  • A train Information slide to enhance the train metaphor and orient people
  • A brief review of past stops
  • Focus slide
  • Today’s Tip that summarizes the key lesson
  • And a closing call-to-action slide.

Finding the sweet spot that overlaps between what you want and what your customer wants – doesn’t have to be hard.

However, to keep your creative juices flowing, you need to feed them.

That means, exposing yourself to new information, such as reading newspapers, books, LinkedIn Groups, Webinars, exchanging ideas with friends/colleagues, and whatever else that could spark your imagination.

From the feedback I received so far, it sure looks the content resonated with people:

“Great use of Instagram Live. Love the series of videos linked from one to the next. Really clear.”

“Excellent session! I have sent the link to former colleagues.”

Need help developing ideas for your ongoing visual stories? Feel free to throw some time on my calendar and I’d be happy to discuss.

Shlomi Ron

Shlomi Ron is the founder and CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute, a Miami-based think tank with a mission to bring the gospel of visual storytelling from the world of art to more human-centric and purpose-driven marketing. A digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience working both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as Nokia, IBM, and American Express. He started VSI to combine his marketing expertise with his passion for visual stories stemming from his interests in classic Italian cinema and managing the estate of video art pioneer, Buky Schwartz. At VSI, he helps brands rise above the communication noise through visual storytelling consulting, training, and thought leadership. Select clients include Estée Lauder, Microsoft, and Cable & Wireless – to name a few. He currently teaches Brand Storytelling at the University of Miami’s Business School. Thought leader and speaker at key marketing conferences. He is also the host of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast, which ranks in the top 10 best business storytelling podcasts on the Web. His book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals to Help You Create Richer Visual Brand Stories. Outside work, he is a nascent bread baker, The Moth fan, and longtime fedora wearer likely to jive with his classic Italian cinema interest.

All stories by: Shlomi Ron

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