Let’s reminisce about our elementary school days when our teachers would use pictures to help us learn about different topics. We would then have a discussion about that image. Or the teacher would ask the students to draw a picture of something and then use words to describe the picture. Students would then tell the class about their picture. Brands do the same thing with visuals. Take a look around wherever you are. Find a product and take a look at the packaging. Does the package have an image on it that is trying to tell a story? Is there some kind of visual that shows what is inside? Visual communication is a powerful tool for businesses to sell their products or services. It is a way for potential and current customers to engage and it is a way to strike up conversation between internal and external constituents. So why are visuals so important and how can your business benefit from kicking those up a notch?
Visuals are Worth A Thousand Words
Words and visuals work in tandem but also apart in our brains. People digest information in different ways so it is important to disseminate information in a myriad of communication channels. Whether it is blogs, social media posts, short TikTok videos, longer YouTube videos, infographics, music, what have you, we all experience different ways to learn about brands and certain things catch our attention more than others.
Pictures (visuals) are effective because the human brain processes visual information much faster than text. Our brains are wired to recognize patterns and images, making it easier for us to remember and understand information presented in a visual format. Additionally, pictures can evoke emotions and create a more engaging experience for the viewer, which can enhance the overall learning and understanding process.
The human brain is particularly adept at processing information that is presented visually, which is why visual aids such as charts, graphs, and diagrams are commonly used to convey complex information. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and visual information accounts for 90% of the information transmitted to the brain.
That is why adding visuals to your branding communication can help the brain process and retain information better. It can also make messages more engaging and memorable for your audience.
Our Attention Spans Are Shrinking
One study from Dr. Gloria Mark titled Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity states that people can only pay attention to a screen for about 47 seconds. If you have reached at least this far in this blog and not checked your phone, email, or looked at another part of your screen, you have a better attention span than most. Our attention spans for reading text are also shrinking because visuals are growing. Truthfully, it is due to the amount of information that is presented to you throughout the day. We are bombarded with words, pictures, sounds, colors and so much more throughout the day. We are constantly exposed to a variety of sensory stimuli in our daily lives. Think of how hard your brain is working to comprehend all of this information so that it makes sense!
With the help of technology, people are able to perform multiple tasks simultaneously without having to physically move around. This has increased efficiency and productivity for many individuals, but has also decreased our attention spans.
So when there is an image to be seen, our brains start to dissect that image and it becomes literally a thousand words in our brain. We can then verbally tell someone else what the image is that we see. That doesn’t mean someone else won’t have a different thought process of what they see, but that is why images are tied to thousands of words!
There is zero question that brands are pushing more visual content now more than ever. Think of the top social media platforms that are used on a daily basis. In no certain order, our top four would be Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. All super visual platforms. Twitter fell off the list because it is text driven. Short bursts of text, but still text driven.
Maybe the script is being flipped. Maybe the visuals are coming before the words now, where in the past, it was maybe the words before the pictures. Totally depends on what industry you are in, but if you think about it, creating a visually appealing campaign first and then creating words to go around it may seem a lot easier in the long run.
Be careful though. It is all in the eye of the beholder. Not aesthetically pleasing to one person may be absolutely pleasing to another. Images should tell a story on their own which leads the viewer down the sales path for your brand.
The Bottom Line
According to LearnEvents.com, the average person responds far better to visual information compared to just plain ol’ text. Research has shown that visual stimulation, such as using images, graphs, or charts, can help the brain process information more easily than just reading text. This can be helpful in various situations, from learning new material to making informed purchasing decisions.
If all information was presented in text form, it could be challenging to differentiate between important and less important material. In some cases, visual aids such as charts, graphs, or images can help to highlight important information and make it easier to understand. Additionally, headings and subheadings can be used to organize the text and draw attention to the most important points. This is why different mediums, such as images, videos, and audio are also used to convey information. They can provide additional context and help prioritize what is essential.
Visual content can be a powerful tool to help your audience remember your message. They can help convey complex information in a simpler and more understandable way, and they also make your content more appealing and interesting to your audience. So, consider incorporating more visuals in your writing to improve your overall communication.