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Is narrative relevant to image-based communications?

Does storytelling still have a role in digital media when visuals seem all-powerful, and an estimated 80 per cent of brand communications is image-based?

It’s easy to see how we can build story into video, but what about single, static pictures? It’s an interesting question, if only for people who have found themselves in charge of their company’s Instagram with zero budget.

At first thought it can seem impossible, but there are precedents in narrative art, currently enjoying something  renaissance, with Grayson Perry leading the revival. Memes can do a similar job on social media, Lonely Planet sometimes makes a decent effort, at least hinting at a sense of story to come. Other people have done even better jobs – look at this excellent post about the formidable Ferruccio Lamborghini.

We mention all this not because we have the answers, but because it seems such an exciting time to consider the possibilities. Digital natives are reinventing how we make and see images, and digital technology makes it ever easier to manipulate photographs. Currently one of our favourite books is Photoviz: Visualizing Information Through Photography, published by Die Gestalten Verlag last year. Photoviz showcases work by several photographers who, in cramming hours-worth of events into single images, hint at what might be possible. The principle is particularly relevant to businesses increasingly interested in ways of visualising data that tease out trends and stories.

Of course, to create story like this, you need to understand narrative principles first. At some point someone with a flair for visuals is going to do just that, and create something extraordinary. Maybe it’ll be you.

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Use the science and psychology of storytelling to motivate, engage and unite employees.

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