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visual storytelling archive

Why visual storytelling does corporate comms like a pro

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

For a company, general communication in the digital age can be tricky, and internal communication can be a real challenge, given the diversity of people working for it. Over formalized emails and meetings are just not enough anymore and can easily lead to a lack of engagement or misunderstanding of the key messages.

At Nucco Brain we help big and small companies telling their stories in the most effective way. Above brand storytelling, we specialise in ultra-effective corporate comms, both external and internal. We thought that sharing some insights about our corporate comms work of the last years could be useful.

When searching for the most powerful strategy to deliver a message, do always keep in mind the golden rule of storytelling: your audience wants to be both informed and engaged.

More and more brands are turning to the visual storytelling industry to tell their stories and rightly so since visual content keeps proving to be the simplest and most engaging way to send a message.

The lack of direct human interactions -voice, look, gestures- makes room for ambiguity; using visuals is one of the best ways to express the tone as well as the content.

Let’s take a look at a case study that we worked on recently to see how we applied visual storytelling to an internal change campaign.

Internal corporate comms case study: Rolls-Royce Engineering

Getting your employees up to speed with the latest technology, trends, and corporate guidelines is far from easy. Finding the right way to communicate important changes, such as a new training program, is essential for the company’s overall well-being.

We worked with Rolls-Royce Engineering to produce a video that aimed to inform employees about the company’s social media policy and to promote social media awareness in the work’s place. Quite a delicate topic to address, as it may sound like Rolls-Royce telling its staff what they should and should not post on their social channels. A message that could easily come across as invasive or even censoring.

We took this difficulty into account and realised a 3-minute video that explained why it’s so important to be mindful of any kind of activity on social media. We created Rollo, a stylised character that would generate empathy with all the employees of RR, no matter their geographic location. As a result, the explanatory video delivered Rolls Royce’s view on the subject to 15 countries and was complemented with supporting images on the company intranet and social media channels.

An explanatory video – among other equally powerful steps of a visual campaign – can provide employees with the safety and satisfaction in understanding where the company is headed and the importance of their involvement.

Find out more about how to facilitate better communication with your employees at http://www.nuccobrain.com/corpcoms/

Stefano Marrone

MD and Visual Storyteller @Nucco Brain

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How do you measure success in Corporate Communications Campaigns?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

At Nucco Brain, we recently had the privilege of working with John Lewis Partnership.
The challenge was to help their internal comms department to visually explain and communicate the latest changes to the Pensions Scheme to all their partners.
The campaign is aimed to everyone who works or has worked across the different services of John Lewis & Waitrose.

We had to ask ourselves what makes a successfull corporate communications campaign and how to measure that success. To answer we had to challenged both our notion of an efficient campaign and the client brief.

The amazing guys at YCN recently interviewed me to investigate the Nucco Brain approach to this project and how we helped JLP increase their click-trough rate of over 400 times on their new pension scheme intranet page. If you want to read the full article, here is a link.
If you are a quick web-surfer, instead, and just care about the highlights, keep reading below 🙂

What was the initial brief, and how did you challenge it? 

We were originally asked by the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) to produce 15 videos to explain each aspect of a new Pension Scheme being implemented.
We thought thoroughly about what the best set of deliverables to reach the campaign goal would be, and instead challenged the brief and proposed a different approach.
We know that pensions are a difficult topic, especially given the broad audience of 93,000 people involved, and the big difference in age spread in the target audience, which ranged from 18 to 60+.
So we decided to approach the project by creating different layers of communication, using video as the primary content to attract attention and answer questions that came directly from John Lewis’ partners.
At Nucco Brain we believe in an optimised approach to design, where the assets created for one project can be the base for other ones, without having to re-create them each time.
We want to be rewarded for our creativity and quality of work as well as building long term relationship with clients.
That’s why we aim at building a library of material that can be used in the future in multiple ways, from digital content to printed material, to support brand consistency as well as sustainable pricing.

Do you have to take a different approach when working on internal comms projects, compared with external campaigns, for example?

Corporate communications are an interesting area, because the goals and KPIs of each campaign are different and need to be set.
It’s a great challenge to understand and adapt to them on each project, and come up with creative solutions to engage with an audience who share a working environment — but not necessarily age, tastes or behaviors.

There is also the excitement of the complete freedom to use different channels internally, without having to think about media spend.
This allows us to think about the deliverables that will create efficient communication and high engagement, instead of having to deal with strict media plans and single channel communication.

How is the campaign being received? 

The campaign has had positive responses on the JLP Google Community and the partnership’s intranet site, with the site achieving 800 clicks in three months before the campaign, rising to 32,000 clicks in the first three months since launch — with no complaints about the budget spent at all stakeholders levels.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Keep telling amazing stories,

Stefano Marrone
Visual Storyteller/ MD @Nucco Brain

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5 Reasons Why Animation Is The Best Way To Campaign About Sensitive Topics – Nucco Brain for World Animal Protection case study

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Content creation and entertainment are inextricably linked. At the end of the day, people consume any kind of content for only two reasons: if it’s informative and if it’s entertaining. There are content topics, though, where the concept of “entertainment” needs to be handled carefully.

World Animal Protection challenged Nucco Brain to create a powerful visual story to help bring to life the plight of elephants in the tourism / entertainment industry for their latest campaign.

We had to ask ourselves:
How to tackle campaigns that revolve around a sensitive topic such as abuse of physical and psychological kind, humanitarian emergencies, dramatic medical conditions and many more of this particular kind?

We think that sharing some of the challenges we encountered on our journey to help WAP can give interesting insights and tools on how to work with delicate topics.
Having worked for years on campaigns to protect endangered animals worldwide, the World Animal Protection marketing team had a pretty clear idea on how to handle sensitive topics.

Thanks to the collaboration with them, we managed to avoid some tricky traps along the path of deciding how to show the distress of elephants held captive and abused in the tourism / entertainment industry. You can check out the final result here and here are the five lessons learned while working for this noble cause.

1.THE GRAPHIC IMAGERY TRAP
When working on a campaign focused on sensitive topic there’s always the “shock card” that can be played: show graphical images to get an immediate emotional reaction from the audience.

This technique can be, however, a double-edged sword. Regardless of how sensitive the audience can be towards the issue the campaign is trying to tackle, individuals can be so affected by graphical images that they might shy away from taking action. Everybody’s sensitivity is set on a different level and can result in an opposite reaction.

During our first brainstorming with the WAP team, we knew that scenes of direct violence on the elephants were to be avoided, favouring an approach that would focus on empathy and on visual and audio hints to imply violence, without showing it.

2.THE SPECIFICITY TRAP
The other issue related to the use of the “shock card” is related to the human tendency to establish a distance from images that depict an unhealthy situation.  That’s how we are biologically wired: we see disease and undesirable images and the immediate reaction is to start drawing an imaginary line between “us” and “them”. “This issue is happening in Africa, not in my country, why should I be concerned?” “What this condition does is terrible on a human level, but it will never affect MY family.” A little switch is activated in our brain that tries to put as much distance as possible between us and the problems that are posed in front of our eyes; it’s a short-term survival instinct “Get as far as you can from this issue, create some distance” is what the brain is suggesting us to do.

Leaving violence “out-of-the-picture” allows each viewer to apply his/her level of sensitivity and imagination to the story they’re watching. This approach has a very powerful reaction in the viewer’s mind: the violent or shocking activity implied and not shown is as strong as the audience can take.

Most Oscar Wilde critics agree that the first edition of Dorian Gray is the most intriguing compared to the following ones because Dorian’s malicious acts are not explained in details: he is as evil and corrupted as the readers wants him to be. Great cinema is full of brilliant examples of implied violence too. In “Sleepers”, Barry Levinson lets our imagination run wild while the camera slowly pans away from the reform school vault where the worst possible act of violence are taking place (check the scene out here).

This is why the animation team of Nucco Brain has deliberately left any violent act -like the shooting of the young elephant parents- to happen off-screen. We see the consequences of the violence, never the violence itself.

How to solve the possible issue of being over-specific? By stressing the attention on empathy, leveraging on the power of stylisation.

3. THE POWER OF STYLIZATION
By stylization, we mean a deliberate design choice to eliminate all unnecessary visual information that can divert the audience attention away from the key message we want to communicate.

Colette Collins, Deputy Director of Communications at World Animal Protectionputs it very clearly “We chose to tell our story through an animation to convey this complex issue in a simple way.”
The “simple way” she refers to is exactly what makes animation so powerful.

The Director of the film, Pedro Allevato, and his team used this technique to get the best possible result:  “We wanted to convey what actually happens to the elephants behind the curtains, without being specific or graphical about it. Therefore, we kept the baby elephant, after he was taken away from his mom, always under a spotlight, as if this was also part of the attraction. The theatrical film has strong resemblance to the old puppet shows, the use of silhouettes and watercolours transitions gives it a special melancholic feeling. This aesthetic approach, allowed us to be extremely expressive and sensitive and poetic with this story. And I hope it will touch the audience in the most deep way”

The WAP animated film is extremely expressive thanks to stylization: we focused on the main protagonist a female baby elephant and told her story in a powerful, stylised way, in which one scene is connected to the other by using emotional transitions that allow the audience to engage with a strong level of empathy. Stylised images are more powerful because they break the barrier of specificity and hit the chords of empathy.

4. EMPATHY ALWAYS WINS
There is a reason why animated films, comics and cartoons are the entertainment products that more easily spread across different markets. Think about how many anime and mangas are international successes against live-action Japanese films.

When you selectively take away specificity from an image through stylization, it becomes more universal. A stylised character is more similar to the idea that the viewer has of him/herself. By choosing which elements to stress on a character, a visual storyteller can make the content he is working on more or less broad in terms of empathy.

Think about the “smiley”, its simplicity enables it to depict virtually every face on Earth: two eyes and a mouth, everybody has them, we are the smiley. If you want to explore this concept further, Scott McCloud talk extensively about it on the 2nd chapter of “Understanding Comics”.

5. ANIMATION IS IMMEDIACY
As a marketer, brand manager or product owner, the need of creating a message that is straight to the point and effective in an era of super-quick interaction is paramount.

Animation and stylisation allow for that immediacy, together with an immediate visual association with branding visual guidelines

As Colette Collins from WAP puts it: “With this animation we can educate and open up the public’s eyes to the cruelty behind elephant riding, and to inspire them to be a part of the solution to help end the cruelty.”

The immediacy and iconic power of animation inspire empathy, the most powerful of human emotions, because it makes people care.

Stefano Marrone

MD of Nucco Brain, visual storytelling studio
www.nuccobrain.com
We tell stories. Your stories. Visually.

 

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Case Study: Nucco Brain and Mediacom Beyond Advertising come together to prescribe the cutest animation for GSK Piriton.

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

1. Introduction: Nucco Brain, Mediacom & GSK- The Piriton Allergy Relief Campaign

As one of the first projects for Mediacom Beyond Advertising, Nucco Brain were presented with an exciting brief for the client GSK and their well-known brand Piriton- An allergy and hay fever relief medicine.

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The Anatomy of BBC Information Security Campaign | Posters by Nucco Brain

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Nucco Brain were given the opportunity for an internal BBC project to promote information security and to raise awareness of a number of technological threats such as identity theft, phishing emails, etc. throughout their work force.

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Nucco Brain & SOAS Bootcamp at Google Campus London – Let us tell our story

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Nucco Brain’s managing director Stefano was recently invited along to speak at the SOAS Boot Camp at Google Campus London.

The short talk looked to offer a real-life and relevant reality towards setting up a company, as well as important factors to consider in the process. 

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”The Pencil is Mightier Than the Sword”

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

On Wednesday 7th January 2015, the HQ of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper was attacked, after gunmen opened fire and killed 12 people. Of those killed, were four controversial and well-known French satirical cartoonists, Stéphane Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski, Bernard Verlhac and Jean Cabut.

Being a studio full of cartoonists and animators, the shock of the news was earth-shattering for us. It all seemed incomprehensible.

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