25 Mar 2019

Decoding Advertising Buzzwords: Visual Storytelling

Whether you’re a tried and true Coloradan with a passion for all things outdoors or a recent transplant to Denver who doesn’t even own a pair of hiking boots, chances are you’re familiar with Patagonia as a brand.

You’ve seen their ads, their billboards, or maybe just clicked around on their website because, hey, those fleeces look pretty damn comfy.

They’re one of the world’s strongest outdoor brands, and a lot of that is thanks to their successful use of an important tactic in advertising – visual storytelling.

Every aspect of their brand image is communicated clearly through the visuals that they employ to tell their story. Each image on their website, in their catalogues and advertisements, and even featured on their social media feeds shows real people enjoying the outdoors, trekking snow-covered mountains, mountain biking through the forest, and showing off their adventurous side. Additionally, the people in their ads don’t look like models, they look like they might have actually just stepped off the trail.

Every piece of their marketing plan highlights the same commitment to quality and a passion for the wilder side of life.

Even if you’re not “outdoorsy” by nature, you’re aware of the brand. You probably even own one of their products. They’ve managed to gain a place in the mind of even the most urban of consumers, one who might throw on a windbreaker as more of a fashion statement than a functional garment.

Patagonia even managed to take this strategy and transform it into a completely fleshed-out campaign. The Worn Wear campaign featured a branded wagon that drove around the country repairing old garments, hosting DIY workshops, and further proving that Patagonia is accessible, community-oriented, and plugged into what their customers want.

By focusing on values and spreading the word via popular social media sites like Instagram and Tumblr, Patagonia managed to turn an advertising campaign into a public image boost, bolstering their already loyal community of fans.

While you might not have the budget to take a cross-country road trip, if you listen in to what makes your brand unique and what keeps your customers coming back, any advertising agency can easily translate those attributes into a simple, visual profile that will allow you to tell your story on your own terms.


I’m Sophie Mann, and I work at encite branding + marketing + creative as Vice President of Strategy. My job entails a continuous study of business, marketing, data and culture, all in the name of driving strategy forward. I’m passionate about helping brands resonate more strongly with their consumers and communicate with their ideal clients. I’m also a proud graduate of the University of Kansas - Rock Chalk!