The Best Campaigns Share A Story Not A Sale

The Best Brands Share A Story Not A Sale

The saying goes that “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but in the world of advertising and marketing it matters what those words are actually saying. A “thousand words” from the ramblings of your grandmother’s eccentric neighbor isn’t going to be valued in the same way, as say, a significant speech like the Gettysburg address. Photography is the same way. A poorly executed photo ad isn’t going to reach viewers with the full impact that it could.

Today more of us than ever have access to a camera and we’re demonstrating our new photo capabilities with selfies, Snapchat, and Instagram. But what is it that makes us want to keep looking at one image while we’re more than ready to swipe left, so to speak, on many other ads and images? It’s the story! We, the human race, love stories so much that we spend our waking hours creating and watching them, then spend our nights dreaming them up in our unconscious mind. The idea behind the “thousand words” that an image is  valued by relies on the art of storytelling.

Here’s an infographic explaining how our brains digest a story:

Storytelling Infographic

The differentiating factor between a mediocre ad and a great photo campaign is our willingness to imagine ourselves or someone we know in the story being created. Take for example Buick’s and Shanghai General Motors’s collaboration of this “Traffic Signs Road Safety” campaign done in 2014.

Buick Ad

The shot is simple, the focus is direct, and the feeling it produces is immediate. The viewer easily absorbs an entire story told in one image: our decisions while driving always have consequences for better or worse. Buick makes the point of this photo to be about the individual, not even featuring one of their cars. The impression or feeling we’re left with though is that we could trust a Buick vehicle to be a safe, and maybe even more, a responsible choice to drive.

Even the best products don’t sell themselves; after centuries of innovation and development people are still the ones selling products. The drive that directs our consumer habits today is due to the relationship built through imagery. Social media has also helped reveal the importance of storytelling in the art of sales. Individuals want to see an image of the product they’re buying but they’re even more interested to see a glimpse of the unique story of its invention, creation, and real-world use. In short, we want to see the lives a brand or product has touched and is invested in, as our personal stories will be defined by it too.

What’s one ad campaign you remember because of its story?

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