By |2019-06-11T12:13:47+01:00June 11th, 2019|


The amount of time, skill and commitment that goes into making one episode of a TV show is phenomenal.  There are so many people, all pulling in the same direction, all adding their individual skills into the mix to build the story, layer by layer, until it’s ready to go on screen.

And there are tried-and-tested rules to this.

Because we, the viewer, expect certain things from visual storytelling – they, the creatives, must deliver.

By the way… they, the creatives, don’t make the rules – we, the viewer, do.

And have done for centuries.

So, why do businesses not use the same rules?

It’s a mistake.

Businesses should create story specifically for the viewer – in the same way as TV does.  Because storytelling is storytelling, no-matter who you are.

Here’s an example of a business who, in my opinion, gets it right:

Stop Loan Sharks

“The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) work to identify, investigate and prosecute loan sharks across the UK. 

Nationally, the Illegal Money Lending Team has helped more than 29,000 loan shark victims, they’ve written off 75 million pounds of illegal debt and have taken over 400 loan sharks off our streets”. 

Last year, IMLT wanted a video that:

  • took their message into the heart of the communities they’re trying to help.
  • was viewed by more than 500 people.
  • represented the diversity of our most vulnerable communities.

The rest was up to us.

  • In answer to… ‘message into the heart of the communities’… we collaborated with Blueline taxis, as they have TV screens in the back of many of their cabs.
  • In answer to… ‘viewed by more than 500 people’…  we bought enough screen time to show 5 videos in the back of 50 cabs, for 1 month. They achieved 87,000 views.
  • In answer to… ‘represent the diversity of our most vulnerable communities’ … we reflected this in the diversity of our casting.

Here are 2 of the 5 videos we made:

(for safety reasons, Blueline doesn’t use sound in any on screen advertising)




Structure:  beginning, middle, end.  Set-up, conflict, resolution.  This gives your story shape, purpose and drive.

Set-up = the world as we know it.  The norm.  In the IMLT video, we say “you won’t recognise a loan shark when you see one.  But they are out there”.

Conflict = the problem.  The thing that challenges the norm.  In the IMLT video, the flashback depicts the conflict that happens every day for some people.

Resolution = we learn.  The hero comes good.  In the IMLT video, the on-screen Call To Action serves as the resolution… leaving you, the hero of the piece, to make a difference by picking up the phone and reporting a loan shark.

Show don’t tell:  we understand and engage with images more quickly than we engage with words.  We always have.  It’s how we learn story in the first place… as kids.  So, exploit our innate skill and tell your story as visually as possible.

Less is more:  say what you have to and nothing more.  The backstory to your business will be extensive, but your forward-facing material should be concise.

Have a hero:  we need someone to root for.  Someone to care about.  Someone to invest in.  Someone to trust to take us on a compelling journey.

Message:  at no point in the IMLT Ads did we overtly communicate any of their key messages.  We took the essence of their message, the emotion behind the words, and relayed that.  That’s storytelling.

As with any TV show, your business won’t be for everyone.
That’s fine.

Be confident enough to say – I’m not speaking to you.

Focus on those who you are speaking to… then talk clearly, interestingly, concisely, visually.  Give them no option but to listen.


About the Author:

Debbie Owen
“Somewhere inside. There is a story only you can tell. Find it. Tell it meaningfully. Build trust and connection. Because when they understand how you can change their world. Your world changes, too.” Michael Owen. Founder. ANGELFYSH.

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