Why Doodles Should Be In Your Visual Storytelling ToolboxI recently wrote a blog post about doodling in business where I introduced ideas from Sunni Brown’s The Doodle Revolution and touched on how doodling can aid in all sorts of business scenarios, such as problem-solving, communication, retention, and recall.

Using Doodles In Content Marketing

At this point in time where visuals play a large role in our day-to-day lives, where adult coloring books are gaining popularity, and where the digital overload makes us nostalgic for tangible objects such as paper, it makes sense that we are ready to embrace doodles like never before.

As a content marketer, I wanted to further explore the idea of using doodles as part of a brand’s visual storytelling. Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Scott Torrance, author of an excellent article on Medium: “Doodles Take Their Seat at the Content Marketing Table.” Torrance argues that doodles are an effective mix in content marketing strategy and a core tool in his business toolbox.

Doodles at the Content Marketing Table

How Doodles Fit In The Visual Storytelling Toolbox

From my conversation with Torrance, three key factors emerged that should help galvanize the simple doodle as a tool of choice for more content marketers.

  • Visual Disruption: Torrance asserts, “A year ago it was enough to just have a visual. Today you need to differentiate.” With apps like Instagram, Wordswag, and Canva, creating polished visuals no longer requires professional skill. The result is a digital landscape flooded by similar-looking polished images, which decreases their value at grabbing attention. In all their unsophisticated glory, doodles provide a sharp contrast to this stream of digitally refined imagery.
  • Authenticity & Humanization: Like a fingerprint, doodle styles are unique to their creators and therefore evoke a sense of personal connection. About his doodling Torrance remarks, “The rough edges are the rough edges of my thinking.”
  • Subconscious Engagement: Torrance believes that the more polished an image is, the more complete it is to the viewer and all that’s left is the viewer’s judgment. “When you use doodles, there’s a subconscious invitation for the viewer to engage with the visual and help complete the image.” As he puts it, “The doodle is the start of ideas fermenting.” They convey ideas just enough to define your point of view, but also open the door for viewers to bring their own opinions and assumptions to it in ways that don’t happen with polished images or text alone.

Torrance warns that it’s important to focus on the intent and context of your content. There are times when your content needs to make an authoritative statement. In this case you don’t want people to bring their own opinions to it, so a doodle is not going to be the right visual solution.

Marketing Doodles In Action

When asked how he has incorporated doodles into his marketing efforts, Torrance was quick to note, “My website is one big doodle that you can navigate because I wanted it not to be a regular ‘blah blah blah’ website. I wanted you to come on a little adventure…a journey. Each of the doodles [within the one big site doodle] are carved up into smaller pieces of content that can be shared on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in a way that text alone can’t accomplish.”He went on to explain that his consulting business started with doodles as a part of the strategic planning process and evolved into the doodles now being at the heart of the content sharing. “They touch on people’s learning modality. We are all visual animals. Visual content really taps into an audience that is not interested in reading traditional blog posts.”

“The first time I incorporated doodles was in a blog post about an event I was attending. It received 3 times as much traffic as before.” From there, he took a more structured approach. Using the same post, he created multiple versions that varied the balance between the visuals and the text.

The results are quite intriguing. “Along the experimental spectrum, text only was at low end of visibility, the mix of text and doodles fell in the middle with 2-3 times as much, and the all-doodle version received 10 times as much visibility as text only.”

Doodle by Scott Torrance
Practice, Practice, Practice…Then Share, Share, Share

While I am a bit of a cheerleader who readily encourages everyone to take up doodling, Torrance takes a more reserved stance towards their use in content marketing. He notes that doodles shared among a small known group require much less refinement compared to when they are used to communicate with a broader audience. Then, the bar is raised.

“There’s a common argument that there doesn’t take much talent or thinking to doodle. The reality is that it’s often harder than it looks… Don’t oversell the simplicity.”

As creative professionals with years of experience in our craft, he reminded me that we probably have a distorted view of what is easy. Drawing, like any physical endeavor, requires building muscle memory. It takes practice.

Torrance warns that an unconfident doodler may undermine their own message. “It’s not about straightness of the line, but confidence. The doodle reinforces your thinking. If the doodle is unconfident, it conveys an uncertainty to what you’re doing.”

But once you find a steady hand, Torrance encourages you to go for it. “Just having the confidence to share what you’ve drawn will set you apart. People are very supportive. It’s very similar to public speaking. You don’t have to be a fantastic public speaker to progress or get audience support. The market is likely to be more forgiving and compassionate than you are of your own work.”

The personal nature of a doodle is what can also cause us to hesitate sharing our work, but we must push past this fear. “I have been working more in the last 6 months on my drawing skills, I think I’m an average drawer at best. But, I have the awareness to just put myself out there. Fear and doubt. It’s still a healthy relationship to have.” It makes us more critical of our work, and in turn, helps us improve our work.

Powerful visuals can be a powerful way to drive leads through your content. Learn how to leverage multimedia and other storytelling tactics with our Buyer 2.0 Content Strategy Checklist.