The Effect of Visual

Right now, everyone knows they need to be communicating through video. Our audience’s consumption of moving images, particularly on mobile devices, is increasing at an astonishing rate. According to Cisco, 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2020.
But very few brands are doing it well – or well enough.
And that is the problem.
Despite it being easier than ever to get the right content in front of the right people at the right time, there is a reluctance to embrace this powerful medium.
Some companies have quickly concluded, “we tried it and it didn’t really work”. Others don’t know where to start, or how expensive (or otherwise) it may be. And at worst, some companies do it and do it badly.

Through our partnership with Facebook, we have been privileged to see some remarkable data about what makes digital content ‘thumb stopping.’ That’s an interesting thought, that we look not just with our eyes now, but with our thumbs, with programmed muscle memory to pause upon work that’s good enough to pause upon.

Why do marketeers then, think it is ok to get an in-house Final Cut Pro pundit to adapt their expensive advertising campaign to a social media platform? That’s easy enough to do and might give the illusion of providing more bang for their buck, but it’s even more damaging than you might think.

For every beautiful piece of thumb-stopping content, there are many more that make me want to hide under the duvet. Screens plastered with type – huge logos, brand promises, several calls to action; all caveated by legal text that contradicts the claims above. Like a chimp with ADHD was let loose in a font factory.

You are now able to target your customers so specifically, you no longer need to make a ‘catch-all’ piece of communication that appeals to the broadest common denominator. You know where your audience shops, where they click, what they like for dinner. You can stand in front of every single one of them (virtually) and whisper in their ear. So, you can choose to deliver a message that makes your brand look amazing, or terrible. Because your message will reach them, and it will have an impact, one way or the other.

Just because it worked for Go Compare doesn’t mean irritating your customers is a good idea!

Since the beginning of humanity, even before speech, we have been communicating with each other visually. Cave paintings, stick marks in the sand, coloured flags and smoke signals, all carried important, often emotional, messages. The saying ‘seeing is believing’ is still relevant today.

Research estimates that eighty to eighty five percent of our perception, learning, cognition and activities are mediated through vision. That’s a lot of your brain devoted to deciphering the pictures it receives.

In fact so much of the brain is involved with visuals, that over 90% of patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury* suffer from some form of visual dysfunction.

The times when visual content was associated with more ‘light-hearted’ businesses like entertainment or lifestyle journalism are long gone. Social media’s conquest of the internet has proved that people love visuals. It has turned channels centred around images alone, like Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube into marketing goldmines. Our fondness for sharing memes and beautiful images isn’t accidental but rather natural and has been explained by many scientific publications.

Recently we have seen the effect that the very best visuals can have on brands. From Nike’s ‘#LDNR’ campaign to Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’, the right execution can do more than sell your product, it can drive social change.

In summary, you can now track your customers down and understand them better than ever before. You can connect with them through pictures that tunnel straight to their emotions. And you can deliver pretty much any message you like. Why would you not make the most of that?


* Ciuffreda KJ, Kapoor N, Rutner D, Suchoff IB, Han ME, Craig S. Occurrence of oculomotor dysfunctions in acquired brain injury: a retrospective analysis. Optometry 2007;78(4):155-61.