National Storytelling Week: Images

Rob Iles

03 Feb 2022

Images. For a content professional and self-professed lover of the written word, these pictorial punks should be considered blasphemy. But in fact, images and words go hand-in-hand and are equally as important to storytelling – the art of good writing is to paint pictures in people’s minds, after all. 

Famous Norwegian geezer, Henrik Ibsen, summed it up perfectly when he said: a thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed. Or, as the much plagiarised and paraphrased version is now commonly known: a picture is worth a thousand words. One only has to browse the news, scroll social media or read literature – like my personal favourite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar – to see first-hand the power of images in today’s society. 

Ultimately, people are hardwired to respond to imagery – the visual cortex is the largest system in the human brain – and while reading is a skill we must learn, picture processing is an ability we’re all born with, deeming the language of pictures universal.  

For storytellers and marketers, images are a prerequisite of content and campaigns – and any rundown of marketing tips and tricks, especially for social media, will wax lyrical about the non-negotiable need for visual communications. Especially in today’s content-driven society, where the competition for eyeballs is fiercer than ever. For this reason, some flash folk have even mastered the art of moving images (more commonly known as: video).  

But in all seriousness, emotions rule – and photos and videos are a great way to tap into them. So, on that note, let me cut loose with the words and instead leave you with one of Harvard’s visual – and might I add, award-winning – campaigns that drives home what my words never could.