12 Reasons Why Your Business Needs to Get Visual
Communications and the way we digest information are going through nothing short of a sea change. The shift to the visual is evident everywhere we look, in all media.
Visual content includes photos, infographics, illustrations, quote graphics, slideshows, memes, videos, animations, and any other type of imagery that can be engaged with and shared. Now with bigger images and fewer words — shareable and “snackable” — visual content is the perfect answer for our hurried schedules and busy, distracted, hyper-engaged lives.
Technological advances have something to do with this, of course, but so do all those other changes in our present day society, our lifestyles and psyches. What’s really interesting is that we are also reverting to a simpler means of communication from a much simpler time — modern day forces are driving a shift similar to how people once communicated in much more primitive times.
Recent neurological advances also feed this phenomenon, proving scientifically through brain scans how we respond to visuals in a much more direct, primal way than we do to text and other types of content. Businesses looking to make an impact in today’s world best heed this shift and the competitive advantage that visuals provide to be seen and heard — quickly, clearly, and powerfully.
Visual communication is back, and it’s back in a big way! Here are 12 reasons why:
1. The online world revolves around visuals
Visuals are at the center of our online interactions. They are social — they stimulate conversation and play well with today’s social platforms which are becoming increasingly visual: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even LinkedIn are becoming more visually-oriented. Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Flipboard and Vine are built entirely around the visual. (And the list keeps getting longer.)
2. Visuals get all the attention!
Visuals stand out in a noisy media environment. They pop! Look at any one of your social streams right now, and it is the visuals that grab your attention. Everything else blends into a numbing haze of sameness — snoresville.
3. Visuals are like fast food, only healthier
Snackable content is where it’s at — quickly and easily understood. Visuals satisfy our short attention spans and distracted lives. Visual “sound bytes” are the perfect meal-on-the-go for those of us always in a rush with little time for a sit down meal — and that would likely be most of us.
4. We love to share visuals!
Visuals are quickly and easily shared. This is powerful, because if people like what they see, they’ll be more likely to share your content, exposing your business to new audiences and markets. The more sharing, the more engaging — and only good things can come from that. People are always looking for great things to share — service this need and you are helping while you are promoting. A social good, marketing win-win.
5. Visuals have the ability to shake us to our core
Science and neurological studies prove that visuals light up those parts of our brains responsible for our deepest feelings. They tap into our most primitive selves and inspire powerful emotions. Trigger that and you’ve tapped into forming bonds that last — and people will remember you.
6. Visuals are the gateway to deeper understanding
Once someone is emotionally vested in your business, the broader story can be told. You need to open the door before you can walk through it. Visuals are not frivolous — they capture our attention and then point the way to more content if you want it.
7. First impressions are the first step to lasting impressions
Never underestimate the opinions formed in those first precious seconds — whether we want to admit it or not, we do judge a book by its cover. If your company’s brand, personal brand, communications or marketing look better than the next guy’s, the door is opened to solidifying a brand that stands above the rest. You wouldn’t wear frumpy weekend clothes to an important business meeting, would you? Don’t make the same mistake with your business image.
8. Visuals make us happy
The same way people are naturally attracted to beauty and positivity, we are also attracted to visuals. They excite us, they inspire us, they soothe us, and they engage us. We pay attention to them, believe them, and remember them.
9. Visuals make us do stuff
They influence behavior — we read, move and act based upon how we respond to visual stimuli, often without even knowing it. Stealthy, I know.
10. Visuals are… visible
Visuals can be easily seen and understood on small screens, which make up more and more of our digital interactions. They symbolize things in small spaces. Reading is especially difficult on mobile devices — the text is small and we don’t like reading a lot of words. Visuals are the perfect solution for communicating quickly and viscerally.
11. Visuals are universal
Without any words to comprehend, visuals and symbols are universally understood across the globe in any language. Visuals are their own language. Visuals bring us together.
12. Visuals show us the way
Visuals steer engagement and make for engaging, clickable links that direct actions across the web. By organizing content and designing an information hierarchy, visuals create the road signs that guide us intuitively along a communications path. This is as true for a website as it is a mobile app or even a printed brochure or media kit.
So with all these benefits, why wouldn’t you get visual? Doing it right does take some time and money, but the investment pays enormous dividends in getting you where you want to go.
I hope that I’ve made a convincing case for why visuals should be planned and budgeted as in any other mission-critical business investment. And it should happen now — not left to the realm of a “nice to have” or set aside for another day — time marches on, now faster than ever.
So… I implore you to spend more time thinking about how visuals and more importantly, a smart visual strategy can work for you. Your business is looking for it.
Have you been focusing more on visuals in your communications and marketing? If not, do you plan to get more visual? Let me know in the comments.
And if you’re ready to talk about how I might be able to help you with your visual strategy, contact me.
If you’re ready to take the visual to the next level, you need a visual strategy. Here’s the companion post to this one: 12 Ways a Visual Strategy Powers Business.
Photo illustration work and slideshow: Paul Biedermann, re:DESIGN