Visual storytelling: 5 companies that excelled in 2018

2 min read

“Times they are a-changin’…” Bob Dylan sang way back in 1964. Just over half a century later, his folk song rings truer than ev — especially in the way we view, experience, and record our everyday lives. YouTube, by definition, offers an entertaining — if not sometimes disturbing — reflection of the current state of our existence.

Much like music production, video production is in everyone’s hands these days. For those professionals who still attempt to glean an actual living from it, it’s a brutal industry. Why? Well first of all, as consumers, we’re too accustomed to getting our kicks for free. For the pros out there, the reality is simple: at this level of competition, you adapt or die.

The art of visual storytelling

Impactful and vividly visual storytelling is an art. Consequently, reaching out and touching the consumer market is complex. The ongoing digital tsunami is sweeping many production companies out of existence. Still, others show their mettle by leaping on surfboards and riding the waves of change successfully. So which are the agencies that are leading the pack and producing compelling content in 2018? There are many, of course. but these 5 US companies caught our eye.  There’s no order of preference:

Arts & Sciences

Arts & Sciences has not only been riding waves but, more importantly, making them. The company boasts a roster of forward-thinking and sassy directors. Named after the organization founded by John Hancock, John Adams, and John Bowdoin in 1780’s Boston, the company aims “to take up wild, difficult, culturally relevant tasks with their same unmasked enthusiasm.” A female stereotype-smashing spot for Julep beauty products got people talking enthusiastically about the brand. It became a huge hit.

The Directors Bureau

Likewise, The Directors Bureau has caught viewers’ attention with quirky, eclectic storytelling. Even the way they’ve designed their website embodies their original thinking. They produced a series of commercials for Mailchimp. These imagined what mixed-up versions of the brand name would look like. ‘MailShrimp’ is a great example of their work.

Epoch Films

Epoch Films solidly advanced Procter & Gamble’s long-running ‘Proud Sponsor of Moms’ campaign. The ‘Love over bias’ spot to promote the 2018 Winter Olympics had a powerful visual storytelling subtext. This cleverly tackled various forms of discrimination and was widely lauded for its emotional impact.

Stink

Stink has done much to live up to its name by delivering a body of work that doesn’t. Their moody, creepy commercial for Oxfam is a case in point. Featuring sinister, masked men sabotaging a hospital, ‘The heist no one talks about’ starkly reveals some hard truths. When big businesses don’t pay their taxes, innocent people in poorer countries suffer. They’re stripped of funds that would go toward supporting their most basic needs.

Tool of North America

Tool of North America emphasized its storytelling prowess across most digital platforms by producing some fine ads. One for the ‘Love Has No Labels’ campaign is a heartwarmer. It hacked the kiss cam at an NFL game. It homed in on the emotional connection between a variety of people-pairings. These included homosexual as well as multi-ethnic couples and elderly partners. Armenian-Russian author of fantasy fiction, Vera Nazarian, says two things shape the world: stories told and the memories they leave behind.

The truth behind the story

Most of us believe the art of storytelling is difficult. We’re forced to accept that it requires a revered skill set. Many a talented director, however, will tell you that storytelling skills can be acquired through practice. As a result, with the right toolkit, everyone can become a storyteller. What it needs to contain is a vision and a voice. It doesn’t matter whether the narrative is visual, musical, sung, or spoken. As far as storytelling goes, maybe the more things change, the more they stay the same: a good story cleverly told will always be remembered. In the final analysis, it’s tough out there — and it’s getting tougher — but maybe competition is a good thing. Boutique video production agency director and voice actor, Michael Goodheart says: “If we don’t get forced to push boundaries, we’ll never get ahead.”