Visual Sequential Communication
Updated: Jun 11
Hello, I'm back and talking business today! In this post, we will dip a toe into where communication originated, and speak about how communication and story is essential when it comes to business and branding.
Visual sequential communication is pictorial storytelling, using frozen frames in sequence rather than standalone pictures or moving images. VCS sits between still single images and film or video and often, but not always, includes written language to further communicate a message or story. Storytelling is possibly older than speech itself – in caves we can imagine stone age people communicating with shadows casts on the cave walls from their fire pits, about a successful hunt or encounters with mighty beasts.
Storytelling is the essence of how we communicate, whether it is through speech, writing words or visually. It is an innate human instinct to share our story with the world and mark it down in history. There are many methods and ways of telling our own stories. Some of the oldest forms showing humans’ desire to share what is happening in the world around them are cave paintings; some have been dated to around 39,000 BC. The next method of sharing information is writing; we have found ancient writing systems, first used around 3400 BC, having a somewhat pictographic nature.
Moving further in history, storytelling has had a massive impact on how nations carry on their legacies. From folk law to fairy tales, we can communicate so much emotion, knowledge and meaning through stories that no other form of communication can. We can activate people’s compassion and emotions, making the message we are trying to convey really embed itself in people’s minds. When something has meaning and emotion tied to the information you are trying to convey, it will stay in someone’s memory much longer. Bringing this into the 21st century, now more than ever we are fighting for people’s attention; with the internet and social platforms providing so much information, rapidly evolving and changing.
This brings me on to comics. Comics provide visually engaging content that stimulates the viewer’s imagination by taking them through a story. With a dance of the seen and the unseen world, allowing the viewer to place themselves within these stories. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a comic is worth many thousands more. Comics can bring a message across in an easy to understand and entertaining format, that speaks to a new generation. It has been proven that people will spend more time looking at an image than looking at the written word, and in this fast-paced world you can, at best, expect a 3 second glance at any long form written content (Like this, ahah). Not so with comics. A few panels denoting a story will instantly grab attention in a way words and single images don’t do. Comics both personifies content and stimulates interest.
Looking at some of the most successful brands and products out there today, we can analyse how and what they did, as well as what they do so well, to be where they are. A perfect example is Apple; they have created a product that people get attached to on an emotional level, even to the extent you get “apple people” that would never even look at getting another product in the same market. You mention a PC or Android phone to them and they almost bite your head off. Apple has created a premium experience; from when you get the product in the store, to how they lead you through opening the package, to finally the design of the phone and the way it functions. Apple computers, laptops and phones are some of the most expensive in the market and, though there are plenty of cheaper options with better specs, they still have such a large number of customers. Why is this? Well, they have built a story into the brand that allows people to build a connection beyond Apple just being a product, that people use to serve a specific task. For example, the ‘think different’ campaign, with the slogan “because the people that are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” This shows what Apple stands for and gives something people can stand by. We trust people that believe what we believe, and so in turn you unconsciously trust the brand.
Building an audience for your brand is so important. Having clients is one thing but an audience is a different animal. A client will pay you for a service or a product, but an audience will follow you whatever you do. They will support you if you make a book, start a podcast or make a clothing line – whatever it is you do, an audience will show up. Why is this? Well, if you build a fan-base that believes in the same ideology and ethics as your brand, and if you teach or share value, they will get on board all the more. How can building an audience be achieved? Well, there are a few different methods and ways to do this, but personality is a key factor when it comes to finding an audience. People don’t fall in love with corporations, they fall in love with personalities, so to capture your audience you need to find your voice and embrace ‘you’.
In other words, building a character that people can relate, empathize with and comprehend will put your company much further ahead in capturing, and engaging, an audience that will show up for your brand. To create an attractive character, there are four main traits. Number one is a compelling backstory, as everyone needs a meaning for being where they are, and a reason why they are doing what they do. Secondly – character flaws; this allows the audience to see how you progress, because if you are flawless there is nowhere to improve and that doesn’t make for a good and compelling story. This follows on to the third which ‘Parables’ – a story that is used to illustrate a moral, or spiritual lesson, giving value to your audience. And finally, it helps to be polarizing within some of your views, to take a stand. When you are polarizing you incite passion, and to have people love your brand ,you must risk having people on the opposite side of the fence. Because if your brand doesn’t stand for something, no one will stand with you.
“To think you have to risk being offensive” PR. Jordan Peterson.
Your friendly neighborhood chin.