If Your Marketing Isn’t Image-Led, You’re Doing It Wrong
The saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” may now rank among the world’s most hackneyed clichés, but this doesn’t make it any less true. In fact, given the degree to which our culture has in recent years shifted towards visual – rather than textual – forms of communication, it’s likely that this old maxim has never been more on point than it is today.
While visual literacy has massively accelerated in the last couple of decades due to the advent of the internet and social media, visual modes of communication have of course been central to our culture for a very long time. Indeed, given that cinema, TV, and video technologies are now a good century or so old, the majority of people living on this planet today were born and raised in the age of mass visual communication. As a consequence, we’re now all quite fluent in this idiom.
What’s changed in recent years of course is that the average person is no longer merely a passive “reader” of visual language, but increasingly also an “author.” And, for younger generations in particular, our primary lexicon comprises of images.
For those engaged in marketing, the implications of this shift are huge: anyone who still largely relies on persuasive text to sell their products is effectively speaking to the market in a foreign language.
If you studied a foreign language at school, and then let it drop as an adult, you’ll know that language abilities quickly deteriorate through lack of use. You might still remember a bunch of words in French/German/Spanish/Latin/Chinese, but if a native speaker talks to you for very long, you’ll likely soon lose concentration and glaze over.
This is not dissimilar to what happens if you try to reach digital natives with copy-heavy marketing: it just becomes background drone to be ignored. Instead, you need to communicate directly in your target market’s first language: i.e. images.
That’s all very well, but precisely how should you employ images in order to more effectively reach today’s consumers? Let’s take a look.
How to Use Images for Better Marketing
– Images can be used for a wide range of marketing tools: email, blogs, websites, social media, catalogues, print adverts, posters, fliers, presentations and more. As you are not restricted to using imagery in only one of these channels, but can easily coordinate marketing drives across various mediums reusing the same images but in slightly different ways, this makes visual marketing highly cost effective.
– While the ideas and information contained in a passage of text can vary massively from one paragraph to another, the only way to find out what a certain text has to offer is by reading it. This takes time. Meanwhile a great image grabs the viewer’s attention immediately. For this reason your images should be as eye-catching and engaging as possible in order to successfully compete with other imagery and draw in viewers right from the start.
– Even for those who still fully appreciate the joy of reading, large blocks of text can be very off-putting. Breaking up an article or blog post with relevant images will make it much more easily digestible and engaging.
– Words are secondhand tales about the world. They are somebody else’s account of what happened and in this age of “fake news” most readers will take them with a pinch of salt. Instead images allow customers to “see” for themselves. While it’s true that various Photoshop fakes in recent years may have slightly undermined the degree of faith the average viewer puts in images today, ultimately unless we have good reason to think otherwise, we still believe in what we see.
– By showing the right kind of images you can establish authenticity – one of the most valued and elusive qualities in the digital age, and not something easily achieved by means of advertising copy.
– Just as a children’s magician wouldn’t try to attract clients by marketing themselves in the same way as a lawyer, you should carefully consider your brand image when commissioning all marketing visuals. Not just any old imagery will do. Instead, every image you use in your marketing drives should be in perfect keeping with your global brand identity.
– Not only this, but your images should actively support the message you wish to convey in each particular instance of marketing. So while it’s essential that your images are stylish and eye-catching, they also need to be totally to the point.
Imagine that you clicked on this article hoping to find an in depth discussion of the importance of images to marketing, but instead found a poem about clouds. No matter how visually appealing they may be, marketing images which don’t successfully communicate the information you wish to provide to customers are useless.
– But also remember that successful marketing is not only about communicating what you want to say, but is equally about being tuned in to what your audience wants to hear. Yes, you should stay on-brand and try to get your point across, but you will only succeed in doing this if you can deliver your message in a format that customers can easily relate to.
After all, our hypothetical party magician might personally prefer to print up a business card with an elegant classical font flanked by roman columns, but if 8-year old party-goers and their parents are looking for something a little more entertaining for their birthday festivities, it might be better to ditch the neo-trad design and go for comic sans and a drawing of a bunny in a top-hat after all.
In short, keep your audience firmly in mind when selecting a marketing image.
Here at Photography Firm images are our first language. If you’re struggling to get to grips with visual marketing and feel like you could benefit from professional guidance in this area, we can help you create images for your marketing, ensuring they are fully on-brand and fit for purpose. Get in touch for more info!