Ideas and words dominate our world today. With an exponential rise in communication formats, studies indicate that currently we create, within a span of just two days, the equivalent of information and content that we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003! Naturally, this means we encounter immense volumes of text, and our lives are constantly overcrowded with words.
Given such an environment, businesses are increasingly leaning on visual communication strategies to reach audiences with better impact and effectiveness. Visual communication such as presentations and videos can help distill complex information into concise and easily comprehensible formats. This is because our brains are designed to process images faster than words – we process images approximately 60,000 times quicker than text.
With visual imagery having such a profound impact on communication, effective visual communication strategies are important. Here are some interesting tips to drive your visual content from drab to dramatic!
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- Power of positive association – Positive association is powerful and important when you design visual content to pitch/sell your products. Ever wondered why all of us instantly feel calm and relaxed when we see pictures of wide open spaces? Research indicates that this is linked to strong positive associations created within the minds of our common ancestors as they traversed through the great landscapes of the Savannah in Africa tens of thousands of years ago. Positive associations are universally shared – choose imagery wisely.
- Focus on the key information – It is important the visual content that you use underpins the key ideas and information that you would like to share with your audience. Make sure the images you use in presentations are complementary to the key ideas being conveyed in your text.
- Emotion is everything – Recall the adage ‘seeing is believing’? As against reading, which is linked to cognition, visual content is linked to our emotions and therefore, judgment. Ensure the images used in your visual communication effectively embrace appropriate emotions. For instance, if you would like to convey the idea of trust and purity – it would be appropriate to include pictures that draw references to young children or parents with young children.
- Consistency is key – To reinforce the key ideas embraced by your brand/product, it is important that you consistently display the visual content that you have chosen for your brand, across all your communication formats – banners, presentation templates, website, social media pages etc.
- Social media and ease of distribution – Social media is undeniably the most powerful communication platform today. Ensure that your brand presence on the medium is well supported with adequate visual content. And remember, content shared on social platforms can be easily distributed – so invest in high quality visuals to strengthen the reach of your brand/product.
- Reinforce your identity – All businesses today invest heavily on increasing their reach to target audiences. Companies that succeed in carving a distinctive relationship with their customers, often use clever visual associations as a way to convey key messages and strengthen instant recall.
- Focus on the key information – It is important the visual content that you use underpins the key ideas and information that you would like to share with your audience. Make sure the images you use in presentations are complimentary to the key ideas being conveyed in your text.
- Positioning is vital – Research indicates that the human eye scans visual images in specific patterns, and placing them in specific positions can help improve the quality of impact of your visual communication. Take time to evaluate how best your visual content can be maximised through appropriate placement on a presentation template, webpage etc.
- Be culture aware – Images can sometimes have deep cultural references. They may be tagged to specific beliefs that are viewed either favourably, or otherwise, within a culture. For instance, a Chinese audience will view the use of number 8 or representing objects in numbers of 8, extremely favourably, since it symbolizes good fortune. Similarly, using the colour red can greatly enhance the impact you have on a Chinese audience. Being aware of these sensitivities will help you leverage greater impact through visual content.
- Keep it simple, always – Ensure that all aspects of your visual content – including images/layout/backgrounds/colors used, look simple and uncluttered. Remember, a single image/visual element that is well executed can create powerful associations/greater impact than a cluster of objects.
To sum up the points just shared, visual imagery is something we carry with us for long. Unlike words and figures, which we record in our short-term memory, our brain stores images and visual inputs in the long-term memory. Take every care and spend adequate time in ensuring that the design, layout, images and colours used in your communication format make a lasting long-term impression on your audience.
We see our world and record our experiences through patterns, designs, symbols and images. Visual content have a profound impact on how we decode information, and interpret meaning. Creating the desired association and eliciting the right emotional response has to be carried through as a well researched exercise. It is worth the effort and time – as it is about defining your existence, crafting your uniqueness, and winning the attention of your audience in today’s crowded market environment.
Wittten by Lakshmipriya Somasundaram for Chillibreeze