Everybody loves that feeling of being able to recognize and understand something quickly without having to decipher what someone is talking about. Just as they do in wayfinding signage, visual cues in marketing go a long way to help your audience get that “I am a smart cookie” boost by providing them with recognizable icons, pictograms, infographics, illustrations and images that streamline data and concept absorption and understanding.
Back in the Day
The idea of using visual cues to get a message across goes way back. Our ancestors lived in a world where their survival was dependent on what they saw around them, committing visual landmarks and visual cues to memory; there is water by that three-hill formation to the left, the plant with three leaves is not good toilet paper, and so on allowed them to survive and learn. As we evolved, we learned to communicate these concepts and messages to others by using writing – and, in its earliest form – drawings.
Simplifying things today
Today we can use graphics, icons and pictograms to communicate or support complex ideas so that we can give our audience the essence of an idea, fast. The idea of visual storytelling can be effective in many applications from web, to print, and of course, presentations.
For example, when making a presentation, icons and illustrations can communicate an idea in some cases just as well as a paragraph of text. Think about how much more interesting and potentially easier to digest it might be for your audience. You might be talking about the intricacies of how your app can increase sales over a short period time. While you are talking about this in great detail to your audience, consider resisting the urge to use a word-for-word powerpoint slide, and try instead to just use a simple illustration of a graph with bars going up to sum up the main gist of your message. This simple graphical representation of your message will allow the audience to sit back and listen to your fabulous talk while their understanding is gently helped along by the support of your informative graphic.
Hmm, an informative graphic you say? Well, that brings me to the mother of all visual storytelling – the infographic. We have seen a huge rise in the use of infographics over the last couple of years as a way to illustrate complex ideas into attention-grabbing, hard-hitting, visual layouts. With the use of symbols, icons and pictograms that resonate with viewers, your message can be absorbed faster and clearer in some cases making it accessible to even laymen.
The Take-Away for Visual Storytelling
We recommend you give thinking visually a try when you are communicating with your audience. You don’t have to recreate your presentations and materials, but try utilizing the power of icons, illustrations, and graphics to simplify more complex ideas. You might just find that it helps get your message across quicker and at a higher level of understanding and retention for your viewers.
Post by Jannah Lyon, creative director and visual storyteller for Placemaking Group.