Story-boarding – Comic Book Thinking

I recently worked with an old friend from my network, who came to me with a fresh challenge with quite a broad scope of direction which can always be a bit tricky in my experience, as you can fall into the old trap of working really really hard in multiple directions trying to narrow down the scope of your clients vision and work in the direction that they actually want to go in. A tricky and delicate process one which I find is helped by a process I use called ‘story-boarding’, which I know is traditionally used by the AV world, but I’ve stolen it!! and would recommend using it as a tool in lots of situations to aid visual thinking and planning.

Ok so a feel some back story situational substance is necessary…

The project in question, which I can now tell of, as it has now been finished and launched, is eCentric Marketing a new integrated digital agency working within the UK. As this is a new agency they ask me to help initially point them in the right direction with their brand itself but with a view of looking more specifically at their digital & social brand afterwards. This is a great stage to be involved with any brand, at the very beginning or at the beginning of the change process.

I went through an initial briefing process with both the founders looking at this project from an outside-in viewpoint with an aim to flipping this in my creative approach, this briefing process was kept quite casual, light and fun and helped me get the most out of the time we had and gave me scope on the vision of the founders, their personalities and the personality that they saw their brand taking on. At this point Ideas were swimming around and it is really important to maintain a focus from the brief to help I began the process of ‘storyboarding’.

Storyboarding - Comic Book Thinking - Fusion FX

Getting started

Ok so I find this process easier with a paper and pen (being creative doodler), however, you could you any number of formats to plan out the process.

The brief will need to be reviewed to start mapping out the story, the same approach to writing any story is to break up the story into key message sections that should form into a beginning, middle and end (hopefully a Peak-Ending).

If you are working by product/service/proposition this can make part of the process easy as these form the middle of your story being the area you want to lead users into focussing on. Here’s the fun part box mark out 10-12 boxes (in whichever format you have chosen) to begin placing your content. Please note that if you have more/less items to talk about you can scale your requirements, however, you must note that in the current climate your customers attention span deteriorates rapidly passed 8 key messages roughly 8-10 seconds.

In the beginning…

Similar to most stories where you read the synopsis or the first few pages which are designed to draw you in (or not). Introduction is always best laying the foundations for the really meaty promotional items, aim to use between 1 and 4 boxes to really get across who you are, what you stand for, what your values are, your motto is, remember to keep things short, sharp, punchy and engaging.

Give them the right, then the left!

The main bulk of your storyboards should be used to help promote your main content you want to show off. At this point you can go in a number of directions in terms of idea style (professional, neutral, fun, quirky and the list goes on), it is best to chose a style and try to stick along similar lines for consistency.

Ending on a high

It’s important to a goal insight when telling a story, a meaning that want people wanting to know more. You should really consider what this call to action would be; you may decide to have multiple calls to action for different sections. Make sure that you plan this all before you get to the end and realise that your story goes nowhere. To ensure a seamless user experience, try and use the modelling technique to help.

Modelling

Some people think one direction is enough, but I think you need to play with your story to make sure it fits just right, in which case one direction really isn’t ideal (something like try to get Shrek to fit in to a set of Manolo Blahnik’s). Its is a good idea to come up with a few ideas for each of your storyboards, then start modelling different ways off putting them together, I find that you cant beat Postit notes for this exercise. Simply get your separate ideas down on post its and start creating a story line moving different section ideas around to see which ones fit best.

Imagine your creating your own comic where each frame has its own story to tell.

Keys points to note:

  • 8 seconds to captivate your customers
  • Plan for a beginning, middle and end of your story
  • No idea is a bad idea
  • Linking is essential for consistency and flow
  • Choose your style and try to be consistent
  • Plan your calls to action, to ensure a seam experience
  • 2-3 concepts per
  • Modelling different styles with different messages really helps

Ben@Fusion

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