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Seeing The Truth Behind Visual Thinking

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Evoking a target emotion through design and messaging is a core focus for marketers and creatives. Design can only be great if people actually have the intended response, whether it be feeling a certain emotion or doing a specific action. The concepts of visual communication have great influence on the way people and businesses reach audiences. But why does it work so well?

The central idea behind visual communication is that images can portray information much more efficiently than auditory or written means. The cliché phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” has been around long before the idea of visual marketing ever landed in a CMO’s textbook, but it’s the simplest way to target the power of visual thinking.  When the human brain sees images rather than just printed words or heard speech, studies have shown that it is more likely to retain that information, along with processing it faster. Consider these facts, courtesy of IM Grind:

  • 65% of people are visual learners
  • Visual data processes 60,000 times faster than text
  • The human brain immediately filters out 99% of data

The goal, then, is to make information and your message stick. Appeal to visual thinkers by applying traditional marketing sensibilities, such as audience selection and value proposition, to how the human brain retains visual cues. Successful visual campaigns identify one overall message and associate it with an appropriate image – the actual image  determined by the creative team, in many cases strategically focuses more on how it’s presented, rather than what it actually is. To reflect a successful effort, the image and the message become one, becoming easy to remember and influential.

Visual marketing is everywhere you look now. For generations, logos were simply variations of typesetting. Logos using icon imagery were first introduced in the late 19th century, and now logos are one of the most important pieces of any branding campaign — so much so that successful companies often resist changing logos simply because of the thoughts and feelings they’ve established through long-term association.

With websites and apps becoming a dominant form of communication over the past decade, it’s no wonder that visual marketing has moved into the digital realm. The evolution of social media formats perfectly illustrates this trend. Consider how Facebook’s original timeline configuration involved mostly text before moving into a more graphics-based display. Pinterest has found great success with its user interface — a bright, easy-to-use image-heavy experience that caters to its most dominant demographic of 18-49 year old women. Both of these social networks have become critical avenues for businesses of all sizes, and the change to a more image-based user interface has allowed companies to take advantage of the fact that most people are visual thinkers.

However, an extremely effective form of visual marketing has only reached the mainstream over the past few years. Infographics have become commonplace for businesses and organizations to communicate a large quantity of data in an attractive, memorable way. Infographics present ideas more organically and artistically than tables and charts, allowing for a creative interpretation that resonates with the audience and maintains real estate in the reader’s.

In many ways, visual marketing has been around long before the actual term was coined. Today, though, the idea of visual marketing has become a science, and technology has afforded marketing teams with more platforms to creatively display their messaging. The need to understand the inns and outs of visual thinking is critical to successful communication.

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