We’re often told “A picture is worth 1000 words,” but we seldom stop to think about why that’s true.
Psychologists explain that when we see an image, our brain automatically places it in a greater context. We look for related objects. We scan past memories to draw associations with the image and make connections. We see a scene, not just an object. This phenomenon, known as Perception of Scene Gist or Scene Perception, explains why images are powerful triggers of emotion, connectivity, and decision-making.
Research conducted in 2008 by psychologists Monica Castelhano and John Henderson indicated that color further enhances our understanding of a scene and the speed of our understanding compared to black and white images.
Additional research shines light on just how powerful visual communication is compared to text:
Visual Power By the Numbers:
- 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
- 40% of people respond better to visual info than text
- 70% of all your sensory receptors are in the eyes
- People remember 80% of what they see and do and only 20% of what they read
- Color visuals increase willingness to read by 80%
Our tendency toward visual communication is reflected in our current social media habits. Primarily visual platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest are among the fastest growing social media outlets today.
Every minute of every day:
- 8333 videos are shared on Vine
- 3472 images get pinned on Pinterest
- 216,000 images appear on Instagram
- 72 hours of video get uploaded to YouTube
All this data adds up to a pretty compelling case for a strong visual presence, online and off.
But where to begin?
Your visuals are an extension of your authentic brand story—a story you carefully construct to attract like-minded members and invite them into your loop of connectivity and inspiration. While consistency is important to ensure brand recognition, it doesn’t necessarily create a powerful, emotional connection with your audience. Choose images that do some “heavy lifting” to draw in members and inspire them with visual stories.
When you move your brand to online spaces, it’s wise to remember that human nature hasn’t changed but technology certainly has. To some extent, each platform influences our stories and our visual communication. You must remain true to your brand story, but you also have to satisfy algorithms to ensure your content actually gets viewed.
On Facebook, that means you need video. Recent changes announced by the platform suggest that images alone won’t help your business page views. Video proves your relevancy and increases your exposure. Videos on Facebook are shared 12 times more often than links or text posts combined.
Regardless of the platform, compelling visuals encourage sharing, a.k.a. the sincerest form of flattery. This is another opportunity for you to fuel the loop of connectivity and inspiration.
Don’t be afraid to update your images. You risk breaking the cycle of inspiration and connection when your look is outdated or irrelevant. If members can no longer relate to what they see, they’re not likely to tell themselves—or anyone else—a good story about your organization and its value.
You Still Need a Story
Of course visuals alone won’t draw members to your organization or fill your seats for a specific event. You still need stories to continue the loop of connection and inspiration. Google’s current algorithm actually favors web pages with 500 words of text or more and blog posts with 1600 words. Along with the search engines, human beings also need written content to help understand your greater brand story and the value you offer—to answer their question: “What’s in it for me?”
But words alone can’t accomplish all this either. Compelling, consistent visuals are an essential piece of your brand story. Combined with vivid storytelling, they make for seriously effective marketing as well as member engagement and connectivity.
You don’t want just anyone to join your organization. You want the right people who are eager to connect with your help. They are looking for you, and they’re hungry for inspiration and connection (even if they aren’t fully aware). Your brand visuals are a huge indicator that they’ve come to the right place, that they’ve found their tribe, and that great things are about to happen. If you’ve been getting just average results from your marketing, it might be time to up your visual game.
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