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25 April 2016

The Impact of Imagery

If a picture paints a thousand words - what story are you telling?

The importance of visual communication is nothing new. Imagery has played a fundamental part in advertising for thousands of years, with ancient Egyptians having bought into it - using papyrus to make sales messages and wall posters.

However, imagery feels ever more prevalent in our 21st-century lives, with social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Snap Chat relying solely on pictures to effectively communicate a message and tell a story.

This transition is understandable considering the human brain is better at processing visuals than text. 90% of the information that our brain receives is visual, and the rate at which this information is processed is 60,000 times faster than with text.

The written word is undoubtedly still important, but including an image that complements your text can help your message connect with the audience. 40% of people respond better to visual information than to text, and they retain and transmit much more information when it’s delivered visually.

So when promoting your product, service or company - taking advantage of this innate human trait to influence your audience should really be a no-brainer.  

What is picture perfect?

When putting out a press release, feature, blog post, website update or social media blast – we would always advise a good quality and thought-provoking image is issued alongside.

When putting out a press release, feature, blog post, website update or social media blast – we would always advise a good quality and thought-provoking image is issued alongside.

Posting an image online will garner more interaction than simple text. Company Facebook pages that post status updates with visuals in the form of videos and photo albums create up to 180% stronger engagement. 

But the trick is to keep it relevant. A number of factors should come into play when you are looking to upload an image. The quality, the composition, and the content are all important. But in a technical industry such as oil and gas, when you are trying to photograph an inanimate object, how do you ensure you’re making the most out of the product, tool or instrument that you’re trying to promote?

The thing that is key to picking the right image is putting the item in context. Look at the way Marks & Spencer carefully considers and constructs every image and still used - everything from a slice of beetroot to a pair of pyjamas - to promote and sell its products.

It aims to tantalise and tempt you to want to be there, enjoying that M&S meal (in your new pyjamas). Although this might be more of a challenge when you’re promoting a blowout preventer or new cable system, you should still consider the same aspects when capturing your tool. Give it a story, a life, a point.

People power

A photo of a piece of equipment, appliance or technology that looks like every other piece of kit out there but has more advanced and innovative mechanisms - will mean little to many. So how do you show the impressive differences, without showing the secrets?

The simple answer is to involve people. People enjoy looking at people. Tools in general don’t work themselves, but people can relate to people. So, by seeing an individual engaging with and working with the object, viewers can relate to it, its scale and its capabilities.

Many people invest in and buy into brands and products for emotional reasons, so tap into these emotions. If you make your audience feel a certain way, they’re likely to take action. The same rule applies when choosing images for your marketing materials. A positive image brings out positive emotions.

Death to Stock

The stock image of the lady donning the headset whilst answering a call potentially has a place on your contact us page, but is there really anyone in your office that looks like that when they talk on the phone? Probably not.

When picking images - think inspirational, not generic. Ask yourself, would you as a viewer be inspired by and encouraged to engage with the content?

Images not only add life to your website, advertising or social media campaign - they also make it convert better, encouraging your audience to want to experience it. Using the right images can increase the likelihood of the viewer relating to and connecting with whatever you are promoting.

Don’t just commit to ‘it’s a news story so let’s use a picture of a newspaper’. Have a think to yourself about where your audience would read the news - over a coffee or a cake in the office, sitting on a plane or in the park over lunch? Think about the situation and don’t focus too much on the descriptive. You never know, someone might even start to ask why this image is relevant, always a good starting point for a discussion.

Using stock images can also often put viewers off as they may have seen it on a number of other sites and marketing material, pigeonholing you as a generic, unimaginative company - and nobody wants to be thought of as that. Investing in images that truly represent your company and how distinctive you are can make a huge impact on your audience and, in turn, your position in the market.

There are many non-stock image sites out there that have high-quality, appropriate images that can be used to tell your story like Death to Stock and Unsplash. Alternatively, bring in a professional photographer to your office to make the shots personal to you, your people and your premises, or employ a graphic designer to design vector generated graphics tailored to you.

Video

Even more impactful than images is video content. Online video brings things to life and, according to Cisco, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017. But I think I’ve kept your attention for long enough, so let’s leave that topic for another article….

The final frame

The research is clear, images and video are incredibly effective to make your marketing campaigns more engaging, interesting, useful and valuable to your current and potential customers and clients – so don’t overlook them with some generic stock image and expect to reap the benefits. Invest in impactful imagery to help tell your story.

Get in touch with thinkCreative if you need help adding visual value to your company or brand.