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A Picture Tells A Thousand Words: How To Communicate Visually

Humans are innately 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 2020, 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.

93 percent of our communication is nonverbal. That rule applies just as much to images as it does body language and the tone of your voice. How can you learn to better communicate your brand visually?

The Power Of Visuals—Signals Without Noise?

Consumers are bombarded with what could be charitably termed an overload of information virtually every minute of their lives. Whether its 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.

Coherence is fundamental to communication. Imagine if all digital media was purely text. Given the amount of information currently available through digital media, the difficulty in both distinguishing and retaining that information would be next to impossible. And 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 the population are visual learners. Visuals act as a nonverbal cue, summarizing information in an immediate and accessible format. It’s as much driven by emotional recognition on a purely individual basis as it is a shared human experience. And without a visual component in your marketing campaign, you’re simply relaying data without making an actual connection.

The Visual As Narrative

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 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 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 the 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. 

Best Practices For Visual Communication

  1. Consistency Long term retention demands consistency in visual communication to deliver a clear, coherent and unified narrative. 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. Use only high quality, relevant images which accurately reflect the overall mission of your brand if you hope to maintain a cohesive message.

  2. Color A more in-depth approach towards the psychology of color theory in marketing has emerged in recent years, particularly as the increase in mobile traffic demands an entirely different resolution scale than traditional web optimization. And it’s an attitude that’s based as much on cultural factors as it is on aesthetic design. 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.

  3. Channel Delivery Some platforms are better suited for image rich content than others; particularly on social media, where image-centric posts have been known to drastically increase click-throughs. And many have their own specific requirements for resolution size and quality. But there’s no 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 and Products from Amazon Advertising don’t just allow you to list your product on the most successful eCommerce platform in the world. They allow you to tell your brand’s story; not with text alone, but with the images your customers need to inform their decisions. And if you’re not using them effectively, it won’t just be words you’ll be losing. It will also be your sales.

Communicate More Clearly. Color More Lines.


Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your ecommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.

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