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NewsCred has teamed up with Getty Images to bring you the four principles of visual storytelling — authenticity, sensory, relevancy & archetype.
In this day and age, a picture is worth more than just a thousand words. When it’s genuine, when it’s relevant yet eternal, when it’s so powerful that it goes beyond sight and delves into your senses — that’s the kind of image that’s worth a million. And it only takes an instant to read. How can your visuals tell an epic story?
169874099 / ReeldealHD / Getty Images
Never before has the human race been better at spotting a fake. Getty Images Director of Visual Trends, Pam Grossman, confirms: “The viewer’s eye has become a lot more sophisticated,” and what it wants — above all — is something real.
In the age of the selfie, people want something that speaks to them personally. Images that come off as constructed, airbrushed, or posed no longer resonate. People want the unpredictable, but familiar at the same time. They want real, candid moments from everyday life. Moments that speak to the human experience. That’s the kind of connection that secures a strong and stable bond.
Articles that contain images get 94% more views than articles without.
Authenticity taps into the passions and emotions of an audience, letting them see something of themselves in the images and turning them into eager advocates of the story you’re trying to tell. User-generated content (UGC) reveals real people and places, meaning real moments and emotions that establish a new kind of heightened digital intimacy.
The aesthetics of UGC — things like authenticity, openness and the everyday — tap into strong and important ideas. Through the realness of slice-of-life images, brands show that they understand you, your life and concerns."
Micha Schwing, Getty Images Director of Content Strategy
Getty Images: 474240203 / Raleigh News & Observer; 142592133/ Cavan Images; 129748349 / Oliver Rossi; 152416233 / Cultura/DUEL
It may sound obvious, but there is tangible proof that real rules. According to the Wall Street Journal, Olapic co-founder Jose de Cabo discovered that…
Users clicking on photos of real-life people are twice as likely to convert to a sale.
Today, there’s much more inspiration to be found in the accessible and attainable. See what happens when you’re looking at a model versus a real human being; notice the differences between a shot that’s painstakingly produced, versus the one that just felt right. You might like what you see.
At the end of the day, authenticity is about getting it right for your audience. What can authenticity do for your brand?
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Repurpose UGC to highlight super fans and an authentic brand experience. Where possible — move away from posed models. How can you incorporate more everyday people into your visuals? Can your audience picture their lifestyle within your brand? Real emotion shines through imagery — choose your visuals wisely in this context.
See how Dove seamlessly mastered the art of authenticity with its Real Beauty campaign.
1B05370_0053 / BBC Natural History / Getty Images
We spend our lives almost entirely online, but most of us have had it up to here with digital. People want to cut through the screen, and let themselves be engulfed by visceral experiences.
We want zoomed in, we want high detail; wrinkles, textures — the nitty-gritty. We want to go beyond pixels, we want to smell and touch. We want to feel. A striking image strikes for just that very reason. The more senses a visual is able to engage, the more attention it receives and the more information is retained. Our minds are full of an endless visual library, which influences everything we see, and how we see it. All-encompassing visceral exposure draws on a viewer’s memories, past sensations and experiences, building stronger connections in the brain.
40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.
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We’re fatigued by how digital life has become."
Pam Grossman, Getty Images Director of Visual Trends
Our culture has succumbed to information overload, but our senses still yearn to be stimulated. What happens to real meaning in an age of digital excess? Technology has developed around us at such a break-neck pace that few have had a chance to catch their breath. But there is a growing clarion call to return from where we came — we want the feel of handmade, we want the details of the precious moments of our everyday lives. We want whats real — or at least, what feels real.
Getty Images: 165147247 / Francesco Mondino; 474613519 / Jodie Griggs; 173505153 / Tim Flach; 173329938 / Digni
When our senses become overwhelmed, we feel fascinated and inspired — and we want to share that feeling.
That's a powerful response, especially when it comes to your brand and content marketing. Visuals have the power to propel an everyday story into an extraordinary experience.
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Create a sensory experience in your images by highlighting details and imperfections as well as large scenes a viewer can get lost in — consider the micro and the macro in your visual imagery. Different visual textures can create warmth and invitation — thoughtfully incorporate natural elements or materials to create a tactile feeling. Wood grain or grass juxtaposed with industrial and technological items create more complex, interesting visuals. Play with lighting and moments in nature to evoke emotional responses rooted in the human experience. A spotlight or a sunrise can heighten emotions.
Read how Squarespace engaged all five senses with its yearlong Details campaign.
114891552 / Martin Schuh / Getty Images
In every story ever told, a powerful character has fueled the narrative. These figures embody an array of personas that have remained more or less the same for thousands of years. Archetypes are written in our DNA, and are just as powerful today as they were at the dawn of humanity.
The most relevant branding archetypes, for instance, are Caregiver, Jester, Lover, Outlaw, Explorer, Creator, Hero, Magician, Sage, Ruler, Innocent and Everyman. These have evolved from a traditional set of classic characters and storylines that are still just as powerful today and can be used as inspiration to build powerful communication strategies.
83% of human learning is visual.
Pam Grossman, Getty Images Director of Visual Trends, adds, “The sweet spot happens when you find an image that taps into something ancient, timeless and universal, yet is incredibly contemporary.”
So then let’s ask ourselves, what does the modern woman look like? Evolution hasn’t stopped — she’s different than she’s ever looked before, and yet she is the same. Traditionally, she may have been the Caregiver. Today, she’s a little bit of everything, all rolled into one. Her complexity speaks to a broader audience, helping carry her voice farther than ever before.
Getty Images: 466625495 / Betsie Van Der Meer; 187928672 / Tara Moore; 173160722 / MoMo Productions; 475130285 / Cavan Images
She fully embraces a work-life balance.
She lives life to the fullest.
She’s strong, she’s independent–in a word, she is limitless.
She’s a caregiver, but she’s also a badass.
Through understanding the archetypal stories that shape our culture and values, brands can create more engaging content and better connect with their audiences."
Pam Grossman, Getty Images Director of Visual Trends
Carl Jung, who was the first to explore and define archetypes, believed that all of mankind’s most influential ideas boiled down to these character traits, which allow us to use our senses to facilitate recognition and foster connections.
Getty Images: 482147865 / Jasper Cole; 148963120 / Tara Moore; 464989813 / Jasper James; 174457232 / Oli Kellett
When you look at an image, try and identify the characters you see within it. What will they mean to different people within different demographics? What are the connotations they present today, versus five or ten years ago?
Give your viewers something they can relate to and watch the connections form. Seeing a part of yourself or something familiar in a visual is the first step toward evoking emotion, which is the first driver of behavioral change.
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Create an aspirational persona for your brand — move beyond demographics and think about emotional connection. What archetypes does your audience embody? Are they open-minded adventurers? The best Moms on earth? What motivates and drives them — and how does your brand help them meet their goals? What are the core emotions that make your audience tick — and what visuals align with those feelings?
See how LeanIn.org made serious waves while constructing the image of the new woman.
1B05370_0053 / Relevancy Video / Getty Images
We happen to be living through one of the most exciting eras of history, and nothing reminds us more of this than a powerful visual. This is an age of globalization and uprising, of revolution and new ideals. Cultural relevancy is on everybody’s minds and lips. That’s why it’s vital to keep on top of the game and ahead of the crowd, delivering localized content in real-time.
Today, we have nearly 200 years worth of stunning photographs and moving images that continue to construct meaning for moments gone by, giving them life long after they’re gone. The difference between a great photo and a forgettable one is an instant gut reaction – you know it when you see it.
44% of users are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures.
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Know your audience and trust them to open their minds. When it comes to marketing, viewers need to feel a connection with the brand through some regional or cultural relevance, while the brand maintains global appeal. How can you choose visuals that highlight regional culture while tapping into global human values?
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To connect with audiences, choose images that capture a moment in real time and make relevant connections with how we live our lives today. The best visuals are immediate and timeless effortlessly and simultaneously.
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The image that speaks to each generation is constantly changing, and visual producers need to be on top of that evolution. What's coming next? How can you connect with your audiences to anticipate the next visual trend?
It’s necessary to take risks, even if they may alienate some of your audience. It’s always good business practice to be progressive and assume that people are going to catch up."
Pam Grossman, Getty Images Director of Visual Trends
Why? Because it’s inevitable. Time waits for no one, so even the stragglers will come around sooner or later. With so much beauty in the world, it’s a shame that it’s still necessary to overcome our differences. Cultures and disparate ideals are colliding, and they need to be embraced. Image-makers and visual trendsetters hold the power here — the power of influence.
Getty Images: 160768277 / Anders Andersson; 184077899 / Thomas Barwick; 479808441 / Don Emmert & Staff; 483057059 / Fadel Senna/Stringer
Guide your audience into the future with true-to-life images that reflect the changing face of the real world.
New visions and realities are constantly coming into light — new kinds of people, new kinds of families, new kinds of societies. All kinds of bodies, all kinds of skin. All kinds of people ever-evolving towards something better and brighter. As a brand, it’s your responsibility to take a stand. Stand on the side of progress.
Lean in to imagery that is bold, takes risks, and pushes the boundaries of cultural acceptance. Be in the moment — an image or Snapchat may not last forever, but it can evoke real emotion and impact. What aspects of a visual can reflect a shifting culture? What are the talismans of change in this very moment?
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Learn how Honey-Maid placed itself at the forefront of one of the country’s most compelling topics: the evolving definition of family.
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