Get People to Picture Themselves With You: Visual Storytelling Tips by Michaela Ion, SonyDonnerstag, 19. Oktober 2017

Michaela Ion Sony USA

We are extremely excited to welcome Michaela Ion, Head of Content Marketing at SONY USA next week in Hamburg at Content World. She has a thing to two to share about visual storytelling, being in charge of Sony’s Alpha Universe, a community of artisans, pros and contributors in the imaging industry.

To get a flavor of what she’ll bring to the Content World stage, we took the chance to ask her for a sneak peek.

Michaela Ion, what makes the Alpha Universe Community so special ?

Michaela Ion: „If I had to describe it in one word, it would be authenticity. Alpha Universe was founded around the passion. Our users’ passion for photography and videography – for creation really. Our users also wanted a way to engage on a deeper, more meaningful, more emotional level. We thought Alpha Universe would be the perfect outlet for us to do that.

We also wanted to have a way to share more about ourselves and our knowledge with the users – and to provide education, inspiration, to help them to handle skills and handle craft, become better business people. And that has been the focus of the Alpha Universe. Our community has used all the content we have provided to do exactly that. They know we are very much focused on being the best and the most innovative. They appreciate that and they can relate to that. The community is based on this authentic engagement and it’s desire to become better together.“


In your opinion, what are great examples of visual storytelling by brands?

„There are so many great examples of brand storytelling these days and there are more and more coming up every day. We are really exited about it, because not only does it help us and keep us on our toes but they also allow us to help our users become better at their storytelling as well.

The first example of great brand storytelling, which comes to my mind is the The Red Bulletin. I love The Red Bulletin because firstly, their content is great, they are really thoughtful about it and they produce great quality content both visually and in written form. The other thing I really love about it is that it is not about their product, the product is somewhere in the background because you know that the source is RedBull. The Red Bulletin really focuses on what they call Playground content. And it is really simply meant to show how their audience is alive. They are very successful at it.

The second example would be Humans of New York. Some of you may be familiar with them. They started off with excellent storytelling, very engaging, telling stories of people and of important issues and they have evolved in a brand that uses storytelling for important social causes, for instance, they managed to raise funds. In a fundraiser recently they managed to raise 4 million dollars in just fourteen days. Simply through their great storytelling. It is a really inspirational story of how they were able to build this brand.

A third example is a site called You probably haven’t heard of it, unless you are planning to visit the Humboldt County in California. I encourage you to visit the site. It is a really great example of how you can use visual content to create a customer journey. They are doing such a great job integrating both content and tools in their side in such a way that they are helping people imaging what it would be like to be there without even stepping floor on the ground.

I think that is one of the great purposes of creating content and storytelling: How do you get someone to picture themselves with you, wether it is with a product that you create, wether it is in a place where you are and make them feel as if they were there with you and make an emotional connection possible.“


How can brands best unleash the power of pictures and create a unique visual language?

„There are so many elements that are creating a unique visual language, but I would say everything starts with 3 important questions.

The first one is: what do you stand for? It may seem like an obvious one but so many brands don´t start there. They forget to think about their values and what it is that they are trying to put out into the world. And because of that, they are unable to really pinpoint visually what makes them „them“.

The second question is who are you targeting? It may also seem like an obvious one to know your audience, but so many brands are trying to be all things to all people and that doesn’t really help when you are trying to become unique in the market. So know who you are targeting and who you are addressing before you start creating the visual identity.

The third question is what makes you unique to this audience? Again, it is about understanding how you are providing value to the audience that you are addressing . Being able to express yourself  is really about holding your audience’s attention and provide them value to their lives.

We asked ourselves all the time whenever we take on a new project or we decide to find a new project, what do they say about us and how is this helping the people that we are addressing. Is this for fueling people’s curiosity? Does it make sense in the context of what we stand for and who are we targeting and what message you need for that audience. And whenever  the answer is yes to all those questions, then that is when you know you are at the point where you can start creating.

The next step is working with the right people. There are  so many different photography and videography styles and many different photographers and videographers. Many of them are just fantastic but they must not necessarily be a great fit for your brand. You need to find the ones that are, the ones that can really interpret your values and interpret the information that you give to them and turn it into something that stands out visually.“

Don’t miss Michaela Ion at Content World in Hamburg, the stage is hers on Tuesday, 24 October, with the Opening Keynote. Here’s all you need to know about Content World.

Ioana Sträter
About the Author

Ioana Sträter ist seit Jahren leidenschaftlich im Content Marketing unterwegs. Sie ist fest davon überzeugt, dass Content Marketing die Marketing-Disziplin der Zukunft ist. Unter dem Motto „Telling the story of your business as if it was not a business at all" möchte sie mit Veranstaltungen inspirierende Erfolgsgeschichten für alle, die in ihrem Berufsleben weiterkommen möchten, erzählen.

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