Don’t underestimate the power of images! Text can be great for spelling out details and clarifying thoughts. However, it can’t compete with images when it comes to speed of communication, lasting impact and connecting with emotions.
Speed of Communication
It is very easy to test the speed of communication of images for yourself. Simply glance at an image for just a couple of seconds and see how much you can then remember when you look away. By contrast, try reading a substantial paragraph of text in just 2 seconds. Then, see how much of the detail you can retain! There are some fascinating statistics available to press this point home:
- We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text (ref. 3M)
- It only takes about 1/4 second for the human brain to process and attach meaning to a symbol. By comparison, it takes us an average of 6 seconds to read 20-25 words.- Thorpe, S., Fize, D. & Marlot, C. (1996)
Taken from: Visual Teaching Alliance
The power of images extends beyond their initial speed of communication. Images also tend to have a longer lasting impact upon the viewer.
- Visual aids in the classroom improve learning by up to 400 percent. – 3M Corporation, 2001
Taken from: Visual Teaching Alliance
We all know that first impressions count. It can be very hard to shift our opinion from what we initially see. So, high quality images that are deliberately constructed around a narrative can make a powerful long-term connection with people. On the other hand, if we don’t present our products well and use poor images then it will be hard to undo that first impression. Images are memorable, so we want to use them in a way that helps people remember the right things about our brands.
Connecting With Emotions
Arguably even more important than the speed of communication and the longevity of their impact, is the fact that images can make powerful emotional connections. We remember images for a long time. But, what is so vital as part of that memory is how they made us feel. We remember experiences such as holidays and meals out largely for how they made us feel at the time. So, emotional content is important and powerful as it can be carried forward for better or for worse for many years.
- Emotions rule, and photos are a great way to tap into them. Brain scans have shown that the emotional region of our brain is super active during decision-making… Rather than engaging our rational minds, [pictures] touch our hearts. (Taken from Storytelling.com)
This is another reason to be wary of relying on stock photography. If the emotions in the image do not appear to be genuine (particularly those of images including people) then we might encounter problems. Not only might the viewer fail to connect meaningfully, they may even leave with opposing feelings to those that we wished to generate!
Using the Power of Images
Images are a language form and they communicate between people. Therefore, rather than thinking of photos as “just pictures”, we need to remember that they are powerful communication tools. Whether we are using them deliberately and carefully or not they will leave an impression on the viewer. Images give us the opportunity to evoke memories, stir up emotions, leave a lasting impression and all of that in the blink of an eye.
Make sure that your brand messages are getting across. Use images strategically and tactically to connect with your audience. If you don’t, your competitors might. Spend your money wisely and in a targeted manner by planning the role of images in your marketing and advertising. Remember, too, that different types of images play different roles. If you would like any help with this then please get in touch for a chat.
All images & content (except where cited from sources) © Joe Lenton, June 2020