Forget Words. Use Your Images.
Consumers are increasingly favoring the visual over the verbal. And it’s not just part of a sociocultural shift that’s afoot — it’s a trend that’s firmly rooted in neuroscience.
Studies show that the long-term memory processes visuals more effectively than it does words, with images enhancing comprehension, recollection, and retention alike.
Plus, the brain is said to process images 60,000 times faster than words — a seemingly impossible statistic attributable to the way images move us both cognitively and emotionally — meaning the messages can make an impact with immediacy too.
What’s it all mean for marketers? Images are far more than the means of the moment; they’re ideally suited for brand communications.
According to the Cassandra Report, a full 38 percent of Millennials prefer to communicate with pictures instead of words — hence the rapid growth of visual social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. And yet, the rise of visual communications spans generations young and old. Case in point: Adweek reports that a full 92 percent of the online population uses emojis, with the vast majority claiming that emojis express their feelings more accurately than words do.
Of course, the use of images and text aren’t diametrically opposed — indeed, we most often see a hybrid of the two — but the accelerating use and amplified impact of visuals as a communication tool is undeniable. Whether on visually based social platforms or those that are traditionally more text-based, content that includes images get the most engagement, by far.
“The rise in reliance on visual communication,” according to Mintel’s North American 2016 Consumer Trends Report, “is driven by… consumers’ desires to make things easier.” With shortening attention spans (according to Microsoft, humans’ attention spans are literally shorter than those of goldfish), increasing demands for instant gratification, and an overwhelming influx of information, it’s no surprise we find ourselves communicating via photos and videos, emojis and animated GIFs.
And marketers — whether in the B2B or B2C space and whether communicating live or online — should take heed.
- Shoppers who view video content are 81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers. So get the right moving images in front of your target consumer, and drive sales.
- Presenters who use effective visual aids are more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action than those who don’t use visuals. That means visual aids can help close a business deal.
- When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of it three days later; with a picture, they’ll remember 65% of it. Wish the message from your sales meeting have more staying power? Consider the images you’re putting in front of your employees.
Avoid the temptation, however, to source some images, slap them on a screen, and call it a day. Be wary of creating visual aids that don’t actually aid comprehension.
For images to achieve the desired effect, they need to be on brand and highly relevant, beautifully designed, and smartly contextualized. They need to be paired with the right words, developed for the most appropriate channels, and wholly integrated in the marketing mix. When they are, they set up your brand messages for maximum impact.
After all, they say an image is worth 1,000 words, and it’s true. It might even be an understatement.