What the happy-go-lucky hamsters from Albert Heijn can teach us about visual storytelling

Increasingly companies are opting for communication strategies that prioritize visual content over textual content.

Initially I wanted to call this blog ‘say it with hamsters’, but that seemed rather vague. Another option was ‘the importance of storytelling and visuals in online marketing’, but that sounded a bit boring. In the end, I went with the third option. A nice balance between clickbait and information. At least, in my humble opinion. By the way, if you’d like to learn more about how to write a good headline, check out this blog about SEO-proof headlines.

Anyway, let’s talk about hamsters. Albert Heijn’s hamsters. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Albert Heijn: it’s a supermarket here in the Netherlands that sells practically everything. Personally, I’m a big fan of their own brand ice cream, but that’s beside the point. The point is that they have created a vast marketing campaign that revolves around hamsters. Very happy-go-lucky, hyperactive hamsters with high-pitched voices. All in an attempt to sell as many tins of soup and canned vegetables as possible. And I am ashamed to say that it’s having the desired effect …

Although hamsters are no guarantee for rising profits (thank goodness, otherwise every company would use this strategy and there’d be hamsters everywhere), there are two key components which greatly contribute to the success of this marketing campaign: visuals and storytelling.

The combination of visuals and storytelling as a marketing strategy is becoming increasingly popular. More and more companies are opting for communication strategies that prioritize visual content over textual content. This is mostly due to the popularity of online platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. However, visual content is also popping up in places you wouldn’t expect, for example on LinkedIn and in online newsletters (if you’d like to learn more about LinkedIn Stories and how you can use this social media tool to create a more personal company profile, keep an eye on our blog page: we’ll be posting a blog about this subject later this month). 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the popularity of visual content is on the rise: it’s a lot easier to take in visual information than it is to take in written content. Also, using pictures makes you stand out from the crowd, and it’s a great way of building an emotional connection with your audience. Especially when you, like Albert Heijn, use animals with a high cuteness-factor (although I like our Besto’s a lot better than those annoying rodents, but hey, that’s just my personal opinion). By the way, did you know that content that includes relevant images receives up to 94 percent more views than purely textual content?

I personally think that the success of visual storytelling as a marketing strategy can be explained partly by the fact that we’ve been used to seeing images everywhere ever since we were kids. Just think of all the picture books we’ve looked at since early childhood. Visual storytelling is a great way to tap into human emotions, and emotional marketing is a very effective way of connecting with your target audience.

In case you’re thinking: “I’d like a slice of that visual content cake, but I really don’t have the time to dive into all the know-how about visual storytelling”, well, you’ve come to the right place. We can help you shape and implement your visual identity, for example by creating stunning infographics for your website, or by setting up an entire (online) marketing campaign. For more information, just send an email to pm@ludejo.eu and we’ll get back to you asap!

PS A very special piece of visual storytelling I’d like to share with you is the website ‘Babel, the cat who would be King’. It’s a lovely story developed especially for iOS and Android. The story is aimed at young children and has some truly amazing illustrations. Also, it beautifully displays all the possibilities for online visual storytelling (but more about that in a later blog). 

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