Visual storytelling helps you create an emotional connection with your audience, encourage them to engage with your event, product or service and potentially guide their behaviour. It’s persuasive, meets our innate human needs and reaches us on a deeper level.
That’s why we, as visual content creators, don’t just create the most compelling storytelling narratives when we design our marketing campaigns.
We also use photography, graphics, text, illustrations, video and audio that bring our stories to life, target that marketing ‘sweet spot’ to enhance the overall experience we deliver.
A good example of this is Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Campaign’ from 2013. Although the topic of inclusion wasn’t widely considered in the media industry at that time, their efforts took steps towards the revolution we are seeing today. By using the power of visual storytelling, their efforts quickly went viral and reached women across the world.
But what happened to the women who are naturally slim? Or the men watching the campaign?
On one hand, they didn’t feel included. As powerful as the campaign was, it wasn’t quite inclusive enough to reach a wider audience and so the brand neglected some of the needs of its customer base.
In this article, I’d like to explain why inclusivity isn’t just something we need to bear in mind when we produce our visuals. If we really want to connect with our diverse audience on a deeper level, enhance our brand value and perhaps even spark real social change, we need to focus on inclusive visual storytelling from the very beginning of the creative process.
What is inclusive visual storytelling?
Inclusive visual storytelling is a modern communication design strategy that acknowledges our individuality and unique human experience.
It takes an integrated approach to the process of building relationships between brands and their customers so that we can all feel heard and represented. By considering multiple diverse scenarios such as living conditions, history, memory, gender, background and physical or mental ability, no one is excluded.
This meets our intrinsic human need to belong to a community, fosters a sense of ownership and helps us feel at home. When we feel like this, we’re more likely to trust those around us, become more loyal and, depending on the context, become long-term friends or customers.
What is inclusive visual storytelling?
Why does inclusion matter?
Put simply, we neglect and potentially isolate a huge percentage of the community from our messages if we don’t make our storytelling more inclusive.
Unless we are speaking their language, listening to their unique stories and weaving them into the cultural and design tapestry, we can’t fully optimise our communication or marketing campaigns.
On a wider scale, inclusion matters because it helps us to further optimise our user experience strategies and push for growth. When we focus on these factors, we open up to the diversity of our audiences and workforce and become more adaptable to change.
We create an environment that welcomes all types of audiences, visitors and attendees, we change how the diverse audience feels by “looking at” the story and together we create an environment for us all.
Why follow inclusion principles while working on visual presentation?
Inclusive visual storytelling is more profound than just replacing words with some pictures to tell a story.
It’s the overall experience that counts. Both the narrative and visuals must create a unique experience for the audience that triggers their emotions in the way we want. The nature of visual storytelling can transmit a message faster than the narrative story alone, and it continues to build our sense of connection.
We also need to note that inclusion isn’t the same as diversity, equality and accessibility, although the words are often confused. Nor is inclusive design the same as universal design- we can’t create a ‘one size fits all’ solution that could potentially exclude communities or ignore human diversity or emotion.
It’s about recognising that this is the environment we are in. Using the art of effective inclusive storytelling, communication and visual language to bring these concepts together and have a powerful and meaningful impact on the world, instead of seeing the word ‘inclusion’ as a mission we need to complete.
Inclusion in storytelling communication has become vital in recent years, with companies at all levels shifting their design, marketing and storytelling strategies to connect with a wider audience and build a sense of community.
By listening closely to the ever-evolving needs of our target customers, we can use inclusive visual storytelling techniques in our presentations in an authentic and results-driven way. Making the story more inclusive without changing the narrative content boils down to visual strategy and it needs to be processed both in the planning stages and throughout the development and beyond.