Visual Content Trends of 2016 Worthy of Hollywood Spotlight

Bite-sized visual media is on the rise. With an emerging visual content marketing trend there’s an estimation that 84% of communications will be visual by 2018.

More than ever before, marketing is dependent on visual assets. They’ve become the core foundation to how a brand story is communicated.

Along with understanding the science of visual marketing through your target audience, incorporating some of 2016 visual content trends will ensure you are producing visually compelling images and video that will captivate your audience.

With the onset of ad blockers, we will begin to see a greater shift towards content marketing. Businesses and marketers will need to harness the power of storytelling by creating enriching, entertaining content that customers want instead of a message centered around a sales pitch. As people are primarily emotional decision-makers it will be paramount to feature visual assets that resonate with your audience more than ever on an emotional level.

[Tweet “people are primarily emotional decision-makers”]

To illustrate this point, consider the blockbuster films that graced the screen in 2015 including Inside Out. The film revised its story by emphasizing the neuropsychological findings that human emotions are mirrored in interpersonal relationships and can be significantly moderated by them.

The parallels to this blockbuster movie and content marketing are really quite fascinating. Content marketing aims to do much of the same thing by attracting and engaging an audience. There is a genuine interest in building relationships with the target audience with the hopes to build trust.

A great example of an ad leveraging the power of storytelling is the 2015 John Lewis Christmas Advert.

Digital marketing trends will shape and influence how and what visual content will best communicate and resonate with consumers. With the onset of social media, businesses can now reach and interact with consumers in more ways than ever.

This year alone will see more seamless integration between apps and their corresponding e-commerce sites via and social media. The ability to buy products straight from social media and to share these purchases online is an emerging trend. From Instagram’s “Shop Now” to Pinterest’s “Buyable Pins”, and other one-tap payment solutions (including Heyo Cart), businesses are bridging the gap between content and commerce.

The early adopters are already seeing that wherever the consumer is in the buying cycle, an image can have a direct impact on the outcome of that sale.

Visual Content Marketing Trends - an InnovaMap blog post
Image Source: Unsplash | Quote Source: Content Marketing Institute Predictions 2016

Visual Marketing Trends for 2016


Research shows that infographics are shared 3 more times than any other piece of visual content. In addition, 62 percent of B2C marketers use infographics, up 45 percent from last year.

This infographic by NeoMam Studios outlines why brains crave infographics and dispel any objections you might have to incorporating infographics into your visual marketing strategy.

With infographics gaining in popularity, businesses will need to invest the time to create visually compelling images exceeding the basic infographic template with standard icons.  Consider leveraging a visual mix of infographic storytelling capabilities and data visualization to help stand out from the competition.

Micro Visual Content – Emoji, GIFs, Cinemagraphs

It takes the average person 150ms for a symbol to be processed and 100ms to attach a meaning to it.

As large brands have been incorporating imagery in their messaging more frequently in the past year, it is not a huge stretch to now see that Oxford Dictionary has named the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji as the official word of 2015.

Domino pizza delivery for instance has commercials leveraging visual marketing with the use of the “pizza” emoji to submit an order.

Animated GIFs have also become prevalent player in the world of visual media in 2015 and will continue to do so as a main force in 2016. Micro visual content enables businesses to more effectively convey thoughts and feelings.

This gravitation toward visual posts are based on human preferences which is no surprise given that our average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds.

In a HubSpot post, they creatively highlight a GIF image of Jimmy Fallon goes cappella with the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Hubspot post, they creatively highlight a GIF image of Jimmy Fallon goes cappella
Image Source: HubSpot


With 2016 now underway, businesses need to be paying more attention to cinemagraphs for visual storytelling. These are still images with a selected animation portion that is more disruptive than a traditional static image with the intention to attract attention by sparking deeper investigation.

Cinemagraphics have the ability to bring a product and service to life in ways that engage the brain. While part of the image moves in a subtle, seamless loop, the rest of the image remains still. This merging of static and moving image will help your content standout especially on social media feeds without the barrier to entry of a play button.

Image Source: Flixel

With a need to stand out and communicate as quickly and accurately as possible, businesses will need to leverage emojis, cinemagraphs and other visual concepts in 2016.


Video is one of the most engaging and popular forms of content. It’s a medium that greatly impacts how viewers feel about your brand, and it can motivate those viewers to take action.

Some video statistics:

A tip from Facebook who claim that the number of video posts per person has increased 94 percent in the U.S.:

“Remember that videos will automatically play in feeds without sound so use images to get the user’s attention and try leading with brand or product imagery in the first few seconds.”

As technology continues to erode barriers to entry in video marketing, formulating a strategy and budget is within reach of most businesses. This is especially true with live streaming video. With live-casting technology such as Periscope, Blab, and Facebook Live, live broadcasting will play a very important part in social selling in the coming years. Meeting your customers face to face is the best way to build a relationship.


Look out for big, dramatic typefaces to make a strong statement and garner attention. You can create drama through size, but also through color, texture, or arrangement.

A great example is this handcrafted series of letters to create the cover art for the Washington Post magazine.

Cover art for Washington Post - Emerging visual content trends for 2016
Image Source: Bēhance

Services such as Google Fonts and Typekit, have made custom fonts readily available and affordable. Keep in mind visual content does not only get created with mobile devices or to be shared solely on the internet but works in every facet of your marketing strategy.

Custom Imagery

Stock photography and graphics are more frequently being replaced by custom imagery or illustrations. This is not always feasible given the time and potential costs but even occasionally putting in some extra effort to create one-of-a-kind visuals will have you standing out amongst the competition.

An example is the “brain” Christmas tree we created for our corporate Christmas cards that were all handcrafted.  This image was repurposed in a tweet over the holidays as well.

Custom Imagery

Minimalistic, Flat Design

Minimalism and flat sensibilities have cemented their role in graphic design for major brands because they can fit all formats, sizes, devices and media. Audiences have opted for less clutter, a focus on what’s important, and clever use of generous white space.

Flat design, a popular web design approach that compliments the minimalist philosophy is without any stylistic elements that give the illusion of three dimensions. The latest modernized trend, flat 2.0 incorporates some three-dimensional effects such as highlights, shadows and movement.

Flat design - Visual content trends of 2016 InnovaMap blog post
Image Source: Design Modo


As you begin to challenge your business marketing efforts in 2016 be sure to embrace some of these visual content trends.

If you do decide to try a trend, make sure it’s a good fit for your project and audience. The ability to create the right visuals comes from knowing your target audience. When you have an in depth understanding of who you are targeting and the emotions that underlie the relationship between you and your target audience you have the foundation for launching a visual marketing campaign that is unique to your business and will resonate most with your audience.

Jennifer Dalcin, Visual Content Marketing Manager at InnovaMap - The Science of Content Marketing



Jennifer DalCin, Visual Content Marketing Manager, InnovaMap

InnovaMap – we use the science of content marketing to connect you with your target audience.

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