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A Picture Tells A Thousand Words: How To Communicate Visually

Updated: Mar 22


Visual communication and your marketing strategy relies on commanding your customer's attention

<alt. non-image text/snippet> Are you making the most out of the visual presentation in your marketing campaigns?


It may surprise you, but content marketing didn't begin online. In fact, it didn't even begin in the 20th Century.


It began in 1801, when the venerable Paris-based Galignani booksellers (an early adopter of the Gutenberg printing press) began publishing Galignani's Messenger, a newspaper featuring influential articles by leading authors of the time while also serving as a promotional mouthpiece for its publishing arm.


To say that content marketing has come a long way in the past 220 odd years may be an understatement.


It's unlikely that the shift towards visual communication enabled by digital marketing will entirely remove or even diminish the role of text. Instead, it's better to consider the elements of both visual content and the written word as two mutually inclusive aspects of communication design which are integral to all content marketing strategies.


Particularly your own.

Visual Communication: The Building Blocks of Identity

Identity and data visualization

It's hardly a secret that the vast majority of humans are inherently visual creatures.


It's been estimated that our brain can process visual images up to 60,000 times faster than text alone—and subsequently identify those images in less than 13 milliseconds.


But it's one thing to identify images. It's another to identify with them.


Identification implies empathy. It's how we relate to any given object that gives it a sense of personal meaning and value; a meaning and value which is derived from context.


If the average consumer finds it difficult to relate to the Great Pyramids in 2023, then just imagine an ancient Egyptian confronted by the mysteries of an iPhone.


Text can only tell the specifics of your brand: its features, its strengths and its function. But an image gives it dimension. It gives your brand depth. And it gives it an emotional relation based on common human experience.


It's been a long-standing "rule" in marketing that 93 percent of our communication is nonverbal. And that rule has been applied to images just as much as it's been applied to body language and the tone of the human voice. There's just one problem with this rule.


It's not entirely accurate. The "93 percent" rule doesn't take into account the actual information contained in an image or nonverbal expression, but merely a first impression based on surface appearances.


An educated customer is likely to be a return customer. And in an era in which product oversaturation and competition is at an all time high, virtually no company can afford to sacrifice brand loyalty in favor of a digital marketing strategy centered around visuals which may be eye-catching but fail to adequately convey information.


The Power Of Visuals—Signals Without Noise
Signals and noise in search engines and internet marketing

Consumers are bombarded with what could be charitably termed an overload of information virtually every minute of their lives. Whether it's news, emails, advertising or social media, the amount of sheer clutter as a result of digital communication is nothing short of staggering.


Not just staggering, but ultimately confusing. While the sheer amount of online misinformation consumers face has only recently been subject to scrutiny, digital marketers are faced with a particular dilemma: how to best convey the strength of a brand to prospective customers without resorting to tactics and language which borders on false advertising.


Coherence is fundamental to communication. Imagine if all digital media was purely text. Given the amount of information currently available online, the difficulty in both distinguishing as well as retaining that information would be next to impossible. Without a visual component to break up those endless blocks of text, your message would likely sink in a tumultuous sea of digital noise.


It's been estimated that 65 percent of people are considered to be primarily visual learners. Visuals largely act as a nonverbal cue, summarizing information in an immediate and accessible format. They're driven just as much by emotional recognition on a purely individual basis as they are a shared human experience.


Without a visual component in your marketing campaigns, you're simply relaying data without making an actual connection. Brands who anchor their online strategies solely around search engine optimization may achieve results which can boost short term sales. But what they're sacrificing in the process is connectivity with potential customers.


And any company who fails to establish connectivity will ultimately be a short-lived company.


The Visual as Narrative
Visuals create a narrative in relationship marketing

Our brains are hardwired to make emotional connections, regardless of cultural biases and differences. Each impression we receive is linked to another impression, sometimes complementary and sometimes entirely opposite.


How we weave those connections into creating a cohesive whole is the art of storytelling. It's the art of narrative. And it's as relevant to your brand as it is to the process of learning.


Consumers need a sense of connectivity to their brands. But mere data alone doesn't forge emotional connections. Narratives are a purely cooperative form of connectivity; a distinct and intimate bond between a storyteller and their audience.


Internalizing that narrative requires an immediate recognition in order to make any lasting impact. And the most immediate form of recognition for the human brain has always been visual. This isn't purely psychological. It has a physiological basis as well.


Our retinas don't necessarily replicate our impressions of the world around us. It acts as a filter, retaining visual impressions which are processed by the brain and subsequently interpreted based on similar information already stored in our memory. The more relevant and direct the information, the greater impact it has on our cognition.


And the more universal the information, the more applicable it is to our lives. How can you learn to better communicate your brand visually?


The 3 'C's of Visual Communication and Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital marketing refers to strategies optimized for non physical channels

Consistency


Long term retention demands consistency in visual communication if your narrative is going to be clear, coherent and unified. If your images aren't complementary, it's not simply awkward for the brain to process. It's downright jarring. And misinterpretation is bound to follow.


Brand loyalty is predicated on coherence. If you want to maintain a cohesive message, use only high quality, relevant images which accurately reflect the overall mission of both your brand and your company's product.


This principle is as fundamental for your own internal marketing mix as it is for an Amazon listing. This doesn't mean that non-product imagery, such as lifestyle images, should be avoided altogether. On the contrary, non-product images are often more than adequate in addressing customer pain points. But they should be used to accentuate your message, complementing your products by portraying its real life application—never haphazardly.


Color


A more in-depth approach towards the psychology of color theory in marketing has emerged in recent years, particularly due to the increase in mobile traffic. Mobile optimization demands an entirely different resolution scale than traditional web optimization. But the ethos behind color theory is based as much on cultural factors as it is on aesthetic and design principles.


Generally speaking, the simpler the layout of your site the easier it is to retain. Try to use no more than five colors (preferably complementary) on a single page and make use of color variations minimally and infrequently for best results.


Channel Delivery


Some platforms are better suited for image rich content than others. That's particularly true with social media marketing campaigns, since posts with images will drastically increase click-throughs. And many have their own specific requirements for resolution size and quality.


But there's no product or service platform which can't benefit from visual optimization—even the most unlikely ones. Amazon is an excellent example.


With enhanced brand content such as A+ Content and Sponsored Brands, Amazon Advertising doesn't just allow you to list your product on the most successful eCommerce platform in the world. They allow you to tell your brand story; not with text alone, but with the images your customers need to inform their decisions.


But if you're not using channel delivery effectively, it won't just be words you'll be losing. It will also be your sales.


Every channel will have their own particular strengths and their own particular quirks. Not every top selling brand on Amazon is suited for non-Amazon distribution channels, and vice versa. But it's not so much a question of suitability as it is scalability.


Both overestimating and underestimating the strength of their target audience can be a recurring nightmare for brands looking to expand. Relying strictly on Amazon for new product launches can sometimes result in a diminished brand building experience for companies who haven't yet established significant social proof, while stock outs and other inventory management bottlenecks are commonplace for brands who haven't considered just how rapidly digital marketing can accelerate their business growth.


With the cost of Amazon advertising rising steadily, both new and established brands need a benchmark to realistically assess their marketing strategies. And a good place to start is by refining their visual marketing aims.


Quick Tips for Refining Your Visual Marketing Aims

Quick tips for marketers for inbound marketing
  • Align your sales strategy with your overall marketing goals. If your target audiences fall into a specific age or HHI demographic, your visual communications should reflect their needs and their pain points—neither of which may not necessarily be universal among all demographics

  • Reduce complexity by condensing the visual assets in your campaign to no more than 4 or 5 basic visual elements

  • Ensure any filters used on product images don't distract from your product, but enhances it

  • Consistent content needs refreshing and reevaluation approximately every three months or so, with A/B testing providing a reliable benchmark from which you can measure the efficacy of your campaign

  • If you're using infographics in your visual marketing mix, make absolutely certain that only the most up to date information is contained, with verifiable sources cited whenever possible

  • Your images should add value and reflect the relevance of your product to a potential customer's lifestyle. Focus on the product's relationship to your target audience, not your relationship to your product

Digital Marketing: More Than Meets the Eye

Customer interest and digital marketing

In digital marketing, first impressions don't always lie. But they can set the stage for expectations that aren't always reasonable.


Your visual marketing isn't just a reflection of your product. It's a reflection of you. It reflects both your values, your brand story and your overall mission. And if customers can't relate to that mission, the shelf life of your product will flatline before you make your very first sale.


That's because it's the customer who drives digital retail. A customer whose life is rich, multi-dimensional and nuanced. And they demand a narrative which reflects that depth. Achieving relatability is simply the first step.


The next step will ultimately be defined by what truly matters in your marketing: your customers.


Communicate More Clearly. Color More Lines.

 

Achieving customer relatability is as much of a science as it is an art form. Our content team knows the value of both. Find out more at Color More Lines

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