The stuff about one picture being worth a thousand words is old hat. In today’s world, pictures are the currency you deal with. So why write a blog post when I should be putting up pictures instead? Simple. Words fix meaning within a context that pictures alone cannot. If you saw a picture of a man silhouetted against a glorious sunrise, and you had to re-create the picture, several possibilities would probably flash through your mind – How can there be so many shades of gold? Did the guy get up very early in the morning to find that spot? Did he have to start trekking in the dark to be there at the precise time? What was the aperture setting for the shot? How did the photographer and the subject communicate with each other?
But with one caption of the same scene – ‘6. 11 am, somewhere in Uttarakhand’, you become an observer in a regular context. Change the caption to ‘Man sees a sunrise after 8 years’ and suddenly, the picture speaks to you but in a different way. Change the caption again to ‘ The beginning of a new relationship’ and you think of a man who is coming to terms with the past and taking on the future. Words have the power to change context. Context changes an impression into communication. Without which we would probably not spend time on shots we’ve seen hundreds of times before.
Increase your prospect base
Take things which are difficult to read – industrial product brochures, for example. They consist of pictures most people can’t recognize and the description of the product functions are just as mystifying. Unless there’s a need to buy or use the products, most people won’t even bother to pick it up.
When you present a product or concept in an interesting way, you create a larger base of prospects. Industrial marketers stop at providing specifications and photographs, assuming that they only need to reach their target audience – engineers who use the products and buyers. With that train of thought, they will never be able to reach future prospects or influencers.
Intel sold a product a customer would never see – the microprocessor. Spending lavishly on large spreads about what the microprocessor does. And helped you visualize a product in your mind that you had never seen. As a result, it became a part of everyday conversations when buying laptops. Yes, you do need a large budget to create that kind of impact. And the flip side is that your brand reaps the benefits of that recognition. If they had said that it doesn’t matter to customers, they would have remained a big company with a small footprint. If this does not sound convincing, try naming the company that has the largest share of mobile phone processors, a business that Intel was never able to dominate. It’s ARM. But that’s common knowledge only to nerds.
Visualizing the abstract.
What does a wireless network look like? What does information transmission mean? How do you depict a company that sells bandwidth? Each of these is an abstract concept that can never be seen. We identify sound waves by the depiction made in textbooks as waves that rise and fall based on volume and intensity. In the last decade alone, a completely new set of icons have appeared. And their acceptance, though slow, is a definite sign of the progress that has been made.
Earlier, visualizing the financial aspects of a company’s performance was with bar charts, pie charts, and lines along an XY axis. And it became the standard because reading a balance sheet with tables of numbers is a tedious task, except for accountants! Newspapers and magazines have a lot more information visualized – which is what infographics are. Making it far easier for people to grasp statistical information, apart from the abstract. We’re slowly but surely figuring out ways to make the leap into visualizing a large part of what goes on in our daily lives, even while we still never ‘see’ it in the true sense.
Making infographic brochures
Clients are fully aware that the life of a brochure can be measured in minutes, if not seconds. Using words to describe a complex process is a compromise. And yet, when you look, 90% of brochures are still filled with boring blocks of text because that is the default setting. We’d love to be given a brief where the client says – guys, cut down the number of words about the product’. And I must admit that it works both ways. It is much easier to fill up space with words rather than carefully created visuals. Here the emphasis is on carefully created. If the visuals are wrong or lacking in finesse, they will not work. Worse, they will go against what the brand seeks to communicate.
When they work, even a casual glance through the brochure can communicate the essence of the offering. Our brains are wired to recognize visual language far more effectively than a page of paragraphs. In her well-articulated webinars, Amy Balliett, the CEO of Killer infographics underlines the fact that our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than words. Now, that is a recipe for ensuring attention.
Why infographics enhance conceptual understanding
Take the word beauty. we all have our own take on what is beautiful. Symmetry is one aspect of it, but there’s more to how something appeals to us intrinsically. That is the subliminal reason we respond to products and solutions that are well-designed. To quote from this wonderful video from Kurgesgsat: Beauty is nothing tangible. It only exists in our heads as a pleasant feeling” Infographics have the power to communicate at a deeper level and for people to ‘get it’.
But infographics still need words to support them beyond a point. For the Tokyo Olympics, a series of icons were created for the benefit of athletes from different countries. It’s work-in-progress, but step by step, we are advancing towards a future where words will support pictures, not the other way around.
If you think infographics will help your brand communicate better, talk to us at firstname.lastname@example.org