The Power of Visual Communication

Feb 26, 2013 by Sofia Giostrelli

Cartoon girl trying to explain a pyramid in words. Then shows it on a chalkboard.

You can try to explain something for hours, use all kinds of synonyms and definitions, but sometimes the most effective way to explain, say a pyramid, is to show people what it actually looks like. Having said that, we won’t really talk about how to explain a pyramid. Instead, we will focus on why online retailers should pay attention to their visual communication. Because, as the age-old adage goes, sometimes pictures are indeed worth a thousand words.

Images Trigger More Than Words

We are so used to forgetting what we’ve seen. By “what” we mean the hundreds of ads or visual content we are exposed to everyday. Because of that, we tend to ignore the actual content of an image and how it may affect us, or in this case, your customers. The fact of the matter is that, even though we forget, images subconsciously trigger a person’s mind; they shock, unsettle, surprise or attract.

An image communicates in a fast and easily translatable manner. We can interpret a large number of images almost instantly. This is where you, as a retailer and brand creator, should pay attention, because different people connote different meanings to an image. People may read a certain text because of the emotional effect the image has on the viewer. This is due to the fact that our eyes are the main source of information about the world. Because of that, they send the data our eyes collect to the nervous system, where our brain processes visuals in a way that triggers emotion. (If you’re interested in this topic, have a look at Visual Intelligence: Perception, Image, and Manipulation in Visual Communication.)

Good For Our Memory

Images don’t just affect people emotionally. They have the unique ability to stick in our mind for the long term, as opposed to words. On top of that, a text or concept becomes more easy to understand when using a clear image. This also helps people remember a certain statement made, thanks to a simple, effective image.

Visuals and Words: A Great Dynamic

When talking about websites and web design, visuals can engage the viewer’s imagination and boost their creative thinking. But we must keep in mind that even though images help us not to drown in words, without them, visuals can lead to too much ambiguity. Words and images go hand in hand, so when choosing your words, remember to pick out the most suitable images to go with them. An example would be to consider the visual of this post. On the left you see a complicated equation, and the right shows a drawing of a pyramid. Without the equation, the image would simply be a pyramid; without the image, the equation would be confusing. This means that image and text compensate and complete each other.

Some Helpful Questions

Whether you’re using visuals for your company blog or for your online catalogs, here are some simple questions you want to consider:

  • Is the background or environment of the image appealing to your desired target?
  • Are the colors in the visuals representative of your brand?
  • Who will you cast for your campaigns that best represents your target group?
The questions are endless. Make sure you focus on answering the most essential questions in order to get the best out of your visuals.

Remember, it’s the little details that can really make or break your brand’s image, and in this case your brand’s visual communication.

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