A Picture Worth (Way More Than) A Thousand Words
How high-end brands can win on the “visual Web”.
I am a visual person. I love most genres of photography. I rarely meet a Tumblr post or a Venn diagram that I don’t like. And my colleagues joke that the number-one thing I say in meetings is, “draw me the picture.”
It turns out that I’m not the only one.
People love visual data.
Writer Om Malik points out that “the human brain is good at recognizing visual symbols. A scientific study shows that our brains take about 150 milliseconds to recognize a symbol and another 100 milliseconds to know what it means.”
Visuals are far faster and easier to navigate than text. Pictures are also pretty universal. As Malik says, “A smile is a smile is a smile in Chinese, Hindi, Brazilian, Portuguese, Spanish or English. The emotional payload of a picture is universal.”
As more marketers figure out how to better generate visual content for their audiences, they must navigate the ever-evolving landscape of consumer and company-generated photos, videos, memes, selfies, visual apps, and Snaps. In fact, if you’d like to get a sense of the scale of the visual Web, check out One Second on the Internet. It is mind-boggling.
According to a recent report from Digiday and Chute, 72 percent of marketers surveyed say that visual marketing is superior to text-based alternatives.
“It’s reached such a critical mass that people are creating a lot more visual content themselves, a lot of it on their phones, and sharing it through platforms like Instagram and Facebook,” said Steve Rubel, chief content strategist at Edelman, in the report. “That predisposition is leading more people to consume more visual assets as well.”
The report covers much of the visual content being created by marketers: photography – both stock and professionally commissioned – as well as user-generated content, original graphic design and illustrations, and “other” video.
While the platforms and tools are being launched at a dizzying pace, and I know that it’s hard to keep up, there are three basic things that I think you can do to ensure that your brand is in sync with this trend.
First, as is the case with many marketing-oriented strategies, know your audience. As the Digiday report points out, “while stock photography might be one of the most used visual types when it comes to paid media, it was also listed as the worst-performing. This is further proof that visual assets often need to be tailored to specific audiences.”
Next, make sure you are devoting enough resources to content generation. This plan might require you to rethink your team’s staff mix, but clearly, this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Somebody on your team needs to be responsible for sourcing solid, relevant content for your brand – especially at the high-end of the market.
Finally, connect the dots. Social is making great strides in lead generation and sales. I recently wrote about a tool that smart retailers are using to increase direct sales from platforms like Instagram.
“The visual web is now all-encompassing,” says the Digiday report. “Consumers expect content to earn their attention, and that’s led marketers to turn to eye-catching images, videos and other captivating graphics.”
Make sure that you draw them the picture.