4 Reasons Why Visual Communication has a Big Impact

exclamation mark against yellow background

The use of visual communication continues to grow. So much so, that eighty-four percent of all marketing communication is predicted to be visual by 2018.

There are a number of reasons why the use of visual aids, whether that be images, animated GIFs, or video, continues to increase. The uptick isn’t exclusive to a particular medium, either. This is happening EVERYWHERE–newspapers, websites, social media, instruction manuals, and emails.

To give you an idea, check out these stats about visual communication:   

  • When it comes to social media, a study by Adobe found that Facebook posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than regular text posts.
  • Popular GIF creation site Giphy recently announced that they are delivering 1 billion GIFs a day, and that this number is growing.  

visual communication - Dr. Evil pinky to face evil look gif

One Billion GIFs!

  • Time spent per day watching video by adults in the U.S. grew by more than 5 times, from an average of 39 seconds per day in 2011, to an average of 1 minute, 55 seconds in 2015, and usage is still trending upwards.  

So, why the increase in visual communication? Content creators  are figuring out that using visual communication is a much more impactful way to get your point across. Read on to learn four important reasons why visual communication is crucial in order to effectively deliver a meaningful message.


1. Visual communication saves time by relaying messages faster.

We can get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second–that’s even faster than you read this sentence!

Giphy CEO and co-founder Alex Chung was quoted as saying “a picture paints a thousand words…by that logic…the average GIF contains sixty frames, then they’re capable of conveying 60,000 words–the same as the average novel.”

Stats have shown that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Getting your point across quickly is a huge benefit for obvious reasons. Because time is money, saving time by utilizing visual communication makes sense cents!

visual communication - Dwight Schrute meme - time isn't money - its not an accepted form of currency

Time is money, so the saying goes. Maybe not in a literal sense…

Images and video convey a richer experience than text-heavy content alone. In a media landscape filled with clutter, readers’ attention is hard to acquire, and even harder to retain. As a result, readers often prefer to scan content rather than read word for word. Keeping your material loaded with visuals is a surefire way to relay your message in less time.


2. Visual communication ensures that a clear, unified message is delivered.

We’ve all had it happen–you fall in love with a book, and then you learn that this story you love is getting made into a movie. You feel apprehensive about watching the movie, fearing that it won’t fall in line with the characters, settings, and overall feel that was imagined in your head.

Visual Communication - Google search bar, worst book to movie adaptation - large number of search results

Often novels don’t contain much visual communication–they are typically very text heavy, which leaves much to your imagination. When reading for pleasure, letting your creative mind wander and your imagination run wild is often what you’re seeking–it’s a part of the experience.

When reading for business, though, the opposite is true. For business communications, it’s important that all readers are interpreting a similar meaning, or risk a result of wasted time and confusion. When sending a message for a professional purpose, less room for interpretation is what you want–it’s a good thing.

Visual Communication - Martha Stewart - It's a Good Thing meme

Less interpretation in business communication is a good thing.

Collaborating on projects with remote employees can be challenging. Short, simple videos or animated GIFs are a great way to quickly iterate on suggested edits among your team, and make certain that everyone involved is on the same page.


3. Visual communication helps to provide a shared, consistent experience.

An important part of delivering a consistent experience with visuals is branding. In addition to a logo, many organizations have defined brand colors that should be used in all marketing activity.

visual communication - TechSmith brand guidelines - logos plus colors

Brand guidelines pulled from the TechSmith style guide

Logos, colors, font, graphics, icons, and imagery, paired with your company’s voice and tone, make your brand recognizable. You can witness this in action by taking a Guess the Logo quiz.

Effective branding activity of using consistent visual communication is a great way to take advantage of your brand’s equity when launching to a new market.

Regardless if your organization has 5 people, or 500 people, if it’s a start-up, or if it has a long history, making sure that everyone is using the same defined brand elements is a great way to start driving recognition of your organization and to build brand awareness.

Visual communication - a series of Starbucks logos illustrating a similar tone and feel

Starbucks is a great example of using consistent visual elements for branding.


4. Visual communication results in better retention of the information.

From a scientific perspective, it’s been found that using visuals help the audience remember the information more effectively. The reason is that images are directly deposited and stored into the long-term memory, whereas words only make it to the short-term memory.

An article about active learning found that after 2 weeks, only 10-20% of text (or spoken word) is recalled, compared with visual information, where 50% of the content was remembered.   

Whether your planned communication is internal or external, regardless of the topic or strategy, retention is always something to aim for.


Bringing it all together

The evidence overwhelmingly points to the same conclusion–using visual communication is crucial to an overall strategic communication plan. Incorporating images and video throughout messaging has benefits for both the sender and the receiver.

Creating images isn’t exclusive to those with formal graphic design training or with access to expensive, high-end tools. Simple screenshots are a great example of an easy way to create your own image while conveying a message in a meaningful way.

If you are not sure how to get started using visuals to help you communicate better, Snagit is a great tool to use to create screenshots, short and simple videos and screencasts, or animated GIFs.

Are images and/or video currently a part of your communication strategy? We’d love to hear how you are using visual communication–let us know in the comments below!

Posted in Tips & How To's
Allison Boatman

Allison Boatman is a member of the Marketing Team at TechSmith.
Follow her on Twitter @AllisonBoatgirl

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