Skip to main content

Why visual storytelling needs to be at the heart of your communications strategy

Did you know that the human attention span is now shorter than a goldfish? Since 2000 it’s dropped from 12 seconds to just 8 seconds in 2018* (goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds.)

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The digital revolution has transformed the way we process information and created vast amounts of content to consume. As a result we’ve become adept at scanning for the content we want. We make quick judgements about whether to spend time engaging with a communication or whether to move on.

According to a Danish web usability consultant, Jakob Nielson, 81% of people just skim read online content with the average internet user only reading 20% of a page.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Words vs. visual communications

As communication professionals you’ll know that the web is hungry for words. Search engine algorithms need words to rank content for search terms. Google would like you to write blog posts of 1,500 – 2,500 to rank highly in organic SERPs for your target keywords.

But if your target audience doesn’t have time to read your lengthy blog post all these words are only fuelling your SEO strategy, which is just one aspect of your overall communications strategy. Ranking highly is great, but you also need your target audience to engage with your content, and this is how visual communications help you stand out and get your messages across.

Humans (you and me) process visuals 60 000 x faster than text, and 90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Neuroscientists have also discovered that the brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds.

So to successfully communicate your messages, it’s essential to balance what search engine algorithms want by providing enough text to get content ranked, with what your target audience wants; visual content that enables them to scan information quickly to extract your key message and take action.

Visual storytelling is the key

Did you know that articles with relevant visual images are 94% more likely to read an article with visual content?

Statisticians have used visualisation to present facts and stats for years. Visuals tell stories about the data making it more relevant to the target audience. They help the data stand out, they increase understanding, making it more engaging and even entertaining. They are also encouraging others to share the information.

Whether it’s a statistic, a fact, a quote, a key takeaway or a call to action; using visual storytelling increases engagement with your communications.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Visual storytelling is not just for online content, such as web pages and blog articles. It’s essential for capturing your target audiences’ attention on social media and increasing engagement with your emails.

It should also be part of your internal comms strategy, ensuring that corporate messages are aligned with your employees’ need for visual content.

Perhaps the most effective way to tell stories is to use video content and animation. This combines both visual imagery, audio and graphics to engage viewers on multiple levels. This trinity of mediums that has been proven to increase understanding, retention and engagement significantly compared to using these elements individually.

You may like to read our article on The Psychology Behind Video – read it here >

Here at NRG Digital at the heart of all our video productions and animations, there’s a story. That’s what gets people to stop as they scroll down a newsfeed, click on a link, open an email and press play. And that’s what drives our clients’ target audiences to take an action and put into practice what they’ve learned. For inspiration have a look at our portfolio here.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Is visual storytelling part of your communications strategy? If you want to discuss how to elevate your brand communications using these techniques please get in touch. Email us at or call on 01252 717707. Our portfolio page can be found here:

We’ll be exploring visual communications and visual storytelling in more depth over the next few months, so bookmark our blog and follow us on social media for further insights and advice.


Rob Edmonds

Author Rob Edmonds

More posts by Rob Edmonds