Since the dawn of the cognitive revolution, humans have been captivated by storytelling as a ritual to pass along information that was important to live, whether that was sitting around the campfire to hear tribal lore or making a memorable impression at your staff Christmas party. A story is a way to invite, entertain, and engage with your audience in a way that will be remembered. Communicating a specific message via a protagonist or journey isn’t anything new, but investing in digital methods to compel and convert your audience for marketing purposes will be essential in 2019.
Set the Scene. Yet, part of the challenge for this coming year is to recognize how we consume in the modern digital ecosystem. Today’s consumers and business decision makers respond less to sales promises and banner advertising, and more to interactive videos and animations that bring them into the picture. They want to go on an adventure and are eager to invest in a company’s narrative if there is a relatable beginning, middle, and end to digest. They have their own problems to solve, and rather than ask them to put those problems aside to listen to your own, tell them a story that will relate to their challenges and goals instead. Set the scene, draw them in, and deliver your advertising, brand, or business proposal with digital-gusto.
So, how do you tell a story digitally? That depends on the environment and audience you need to tell it in. The good news is, as long as you can tell it on a screen, preferably a mobile one, you can deliver your message to audiences anywhere, anytime, and anyway that they want to consume it. The medium is storytelling. In a world where our things have been extracted so much, we need to tell stories. A new cybersecurity solution? Show me! A new way of processing electronic payments? Show me what payments are. To break through the digital clutter, we need to draw the connection between what a brand is offering and how a prospective customer wants to learn about that offer.
Ready, Set… Animate. The most common exercise of storytelling is through a video and animation. As Facebook Business puts it on the platform’s It’s a Great Day to Video campaign, “Get hearts pumping, make heads spin, and tell vertical and cinematic stories.” Yet creating, delivering, and marketing a complicated story is as exciting as it is challenging. One needs to weave an eye-catching and audience-relevant experience into one cohesive story, like using the Washington Mall as a backdrop to market Adobe’s product line to enterprise customers. In this example, we leveraged 3-D modeling to create landscapes and vistas that resemble the real thing but add in creative imagery and movement that can tie themes and messages together in ways that still images – and text-based content – simply can’t.
Grab Their Attention. Robust animated videos are great brand-storytellers, but today’s consumers want things quickly. Now you need to expedite the power of storytelling to 30, 15, or even six-second ads. To overcome this obstacle, we turned to Bodymovin to create full animation that played back at full speed and tiny file size, without dealing with the compromises of a GIF’s large file size or stuttering playback. This can apply to modules built for websites, interactive experiences, or most interestingly, display ads. This opened up a world of delivering animations in an entirely new way.
Relax and Parallax. Utilizing the parallax effect for your web design process is a common trick these days, as it allows a user to interact with a website by scrolling through as one usually does, but introducing a storytelling piece to the experience. Like the example of Clarabridge, inspired by Wealthsimple, we can weave multiple 3D backgrounds to move at different speeds controlled by the user’s scroll. The final product is a mixture of depth, progression of animations, and a way for the user to feel involved in their digital experience.
Remember, the goal for any digital story is to quickly convey not just the key messages, but the feel of the brand. This way the audiences experiences a connection both to the story and to the solution that is being offered. In our work with Magnet360, we used the parallaxing effect to take the user from garage band to a massive rock concert stage. This took multiple rounds of production as the content writers and the designers have to work closely together, providing a final project that orchestrates copy and imagery seamlessly into one cohesive… story. Go ahead and give it a scroll!
A Better Message. The best digital storytelling drives engagement and conversion far above the traditional approaches used commonly across the web. That’s why UX is so important, today, more than ever! To call UX design “innovative” means that it has successfully created a relationship between two different things: the digital experience and the user. We exist in a humanely contextual world, held together by history, logic, and a chronological chain of events, with our digital world being no different. To tell the user, customer, or consumer a story, or, better yet, to bring the user into the story, we can use that context as a way to deliver better messages.