Show and tell – Five tips on making your visuals for storytelling memorable

Think photo-journalism. Check out some of the best cover photos that are still embedded in our memories. The best are those that have now become the icons of an incident gone by and you have the answer on what the most powerful visuals can do to forge memorability and of course represent the story of that event/brand/leader through one single shot! 

Instagram is perhaps the best platform where visual storytelling for brands often find its highest form of creativity and expression. Once you have defined your brand’s mission, personality traits and associations, it becomes the tenets on which photos are born. The formula is the same whether it’s a personality, a corporation, a cause or a product. The challenge is often to find the triggers that can express those brand values memorably.

Let’s examine this a bit closely. In this age of clutter where zillions of giga bytes of visual content is being uploaded, most of these disappear from our memories with the next click of the mouse along with the message that the hashtags try to convey. 

Some of the best images that stick and convey a convincing message are those that have their genesis in Compassion, Challenges, Crisis, Contradictions and Celebrations. The drama lies in demonstrating how your brand solves a problem or answers a powerful need and NOT just pretty/ frothy occasions. Remember… a picture must say a thousand words…not become the minutes of a curated stage show! 

So how to find some of those triggers that express the brand values? Allow me to indulge in a frivolous personal story. As an avid golfer, I created a group (members only) on WhatsApp with an extension of the same on Instagram. Besides the housekeeping, the single-minded agenda of the group is to share anecdotes that reflect the passion all of us have for the game and the little incidents that drag us back to the course, despite our busy schedules and assorted obstacles. Here is the cover photo of that group, sourced from the Net of course… 

And now to get back to some serious stuff…! 

Examples of the top five triggers to make your visuals memorable & engaging 

  1. Compassion – the Patagonia example

The case: Paul Polman the ex- CEO of Unilever once said that brands that respond sensitively and proactively at a macro level to the changes of a volatile world are in fact delivering stronger and faster growth for their investors. Take the example of the issue of child labor as expressed through this photograph (this is not a Patagonia photograph

The visual video storytelling: Brands like Patagonia have shown that consumers respond well to thought leaders who are seen to take initiatives in areas that feel too big for them as individuals. Patagonia’s campaign on Fair Trade Practices, uses video storytelling to communicate their efforts to deal with a crying problem of exploitative labor practices in garment factories worldwide. Among other messages, this is memorable viewing with thousands of followers… 

  1. Challenges – the Maersk example 

What the brand says – “All the way – We are going all the way to meet our customers’ demands, pushing the boundaries….” 

Example of visual storytelling in social media like Instagram … clear and evident brand messaging… 


  1. Contradictions – the WWF example 

Among other things, The World Wildlife Fund also stands for increasing awareness about the harmful effects of global warming. Here is a memorable picture (a bit of creative photoshopping included) that conveys the message of how climate change will change you and your descendants if you don’t take immediate action… the contradiction between development and natural conservation…. 

  1. Crisis – the Zomato example 

The brand stands for food when you are hungry. One of their most powerful campaigns revolve around providing food to the hungry during natural disasters. Clearly, such occasions also provide for some powerful pictures that underline the brand ethos… 

  1. Celebration – the Volkswagen Beetle way 

When your brand is a timeless beauty and iconic with cult following, the task is perhaps easier. But with dollops of creativity, you can also make the visual storytelling iconic. That’s the Volkswagen Beetle way… 

Volkswagen is promoting its Park Assist technology in a campaign that recreates the iconic Beatles album cover for “Abbey Road” by re-parking the white VW Beetle that appears in it. In the original 1969 shot, the car is parked half on the sidewalk, mounting the curb. In the reimagined version, created by firm Nord DDB to mark the album’s 50th anniversary (2019), it’s parallel parked neatly at the side of the road. VW claims it has therefore corrected the world’s “most iconic parking fail”. It undoubtedly created a social media storm 

We all agree that the “visual” is the most powerful way to tell stories. What makes the difference is a bit of creativity that makes the stories stick and be remembered. What might be fun, is if you share some of your examples of how you have made visual stroies clutter breaking as a brand custodian! 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Devdarshan Chakrabortyy
Founder at Strongkofee
Founder at Strongkofee Leadership Communications
Dev has spent nearly 27 years in advising corporates on their communication and brand strategies and working with CEOs and business leaders in the area of communication skills development. He has worked with some of India's largest advertising and PR firms such as Ogilvy & Mather, Perfect Relations and Mudra in leadership roles and across various sectors.
A communications strategist and storyteller, Dev also leads the business storytelling and leadership communications coaching practice in Strongkofee. An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communications, New Delhi, he is a speaker and part-time faculty with leading management schools and a mentor for startups in solving their brand and marketing coms challenges.

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