Since the rise of Instagram and its hyper-visual scrolling feeds, visual media has become vital in a brand’s marketing strategy. Navigating the content funnel from ideation to amplification can be a big undertaking for many companies. So we decided to invite our network to have a discussion around it at our most recent panel Mastering the Art of Visual Storytelling

The panelists navigated thought-provoking questions posed by moderator Stacey Grant around branding, composition, and the pros and cons of different mediums. Check out the highlights below.

* Scroll down to skip the text and watch the video recap!

* Click the link below to view photos from the panel! 

Creating Thumb-Stopping Content

Nick Elmi; Top Chef Season 11 winner, author, and owner of multiple Philadelphia restaurants including French and American restaurant Laurel; talked about being creative without being obtuse. He emphasized the importance of clean, beautiful and engaging content. Content that’s simple yet contains valuable information so he learns something new draws his attention.

Gia Vecchio, founder of Foxglove Communications and PR pro, said that seeing people who are visually disruptive or thinking outside of the box usually grabs her attention.

Neal Santos, editorial photographer for Nick’s cookbook Laurel, added that visuals that have breathing room with unique lighting and simple composition make him stop scrolling. He also pointed out that photos can live on or they can die out – when you treat a photo properly, it can last a lifetime.

It’s All About the Experience

Neal started off by saying when he’s creating content he first thinks about who his audience is and what will engage that crowd of people. Communicating complete human honesty is something he really connects with. Even by showing a face, for example, or hands working, you’re connecting to the human experience.

Gia added that it ultimately comes down to authenticity. At Foxglove Communications, she tries to communicate her client’s story as they would themselves. Human to human experience and connection is the best way to tell your story. 

Tips for Visually Conveying Your Brand’s Story in an Appealing Way

Gia always wants Foxglove’s clients to be true to their brand. She encourages her clients to push their boundaries and try different things they wouldn’t necessarily do otherwise.

Visually telling your brand story depends on the medium, Neal explained. It depends on your personal mission, your personal brand. Convey that message across as best you can with a level of simplicity and a lot of thought. Thinking about the end result first – who is going to see it? How and when will they see it? Before making any type of content answer the who, what, when, where, and definitely the why. 

Nick suggested asking yourself, “What’s the message you’re trying to send?” and “How does your audience want to see that message?” Nick likes to post beautiful photos of food but typically, those don’t get as much engagement as a photo about an event he’s doing or something in his personal life. Understand what your account is really about and what your audience expects from you. 

Photo Storytelling vs. Video Storytelling

During the Q+A session, the panel, specifically Stacey, was asked if there was a difference in the way a story is told between a photo and a video and which is better. Stacey spoke about how photography and video give you different kinds of value. With video, you can guide a viewer from the beginning, middle, and end of a story and connect emotionally to entice action. 

Nick likes video for information, and photography for capturing specific moments. Neal compared video to riding a rollercoaster – you’re hopping in and investing, whereas a photo can be a little bit more of a pause. He noted that a good video and a good photo in combination can be magical: You’re riding the story arch but then you can pause to appreciate the sights.  

The consensus with the panel was that you need both photo and video because they balance each other out. Gia agreed that both, when done well, should make you feel something. It’s a matter of when you need each. Photography allows more room for interpretation, while video guides you through it more prescriptively. 

Question From the Audience: Dealing with Failure

Everyone hates to fail, at least that’s what you would think. Nick, Gia, Neal, and Stacey all agreed that failure leads to success. Nick said failure is one of the things he’s most proud of. Through failure, his team finds out something they shouldn’t be doing and something that they should be doing. Neil agreed, saying that failure is just another expression of creativity or a happy accident. 

Gia went on to explain how one of her clients said, “We fail, and we try to fail fast.” It’s been a motto guiding her company. When they fail at one path, it’s knowing to try the next path. Stacey closed out with a quote her dad used to say, “You only learn when you fail.” If you don’t fail once in a while, how do you know how to grow? 

Have any questions or comments about the panel? Comment below!

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