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Visual communication is a way to communicate ideas graphically in ways that are efficient and help to convey more meaning. It’s a critical element of any content marketing strategy.
This is because visuals can help to evoke emotions in your audience, provide stronger examples for your message and so much more.
There are at least three crucial reasons to incorporate visual elements into your content creation process. Let's get started.
A common challenge we face with creating content is that we put resources into exceptional work that fails to make the impact we want.
How can we avoid this and make sure the content we’re creating makes the impact we need? There are three core challenges at the root of this problem.
First we’ll explore how to address these challenges. Afterwards, we’ll unpack concrete ways to launch effective visual communication strategies.
In the modern content landscape, we have some challenges that can prevent us from having as much impact as we want. There are 3 particular challenges that visual communication helps us address.
The first challenge we need to overcome is the limited attention span of your audience.
According to the classic 2015 study by Microsoft, the average human has an 8 second attention span.
In the years since, attention spans have been narrowing. According to a 2019 study in Nature Communications the lack of attention trend is accelerating.
Since we know distractions are a problem, we want to explore how visual communication can help us make our content as distraction-proof as possible.
The good news is that visual communication helps us to transform our content into a distraction-proof, problem-solving tool.
Because the likelihood of distraction online is often correlated with the quality of visual information in your content, the use of visuals helps them refocus and return to the main ideas in your content.
Guide your audience step-by-step with a process infographic like the one below.
The second challenge businesses face with readers is making sure that you stick out in their memory. Something to keep in mind is that the content ecosystem is filled with awesome work. It’s a competitive space.
From my own experience, I often come across wonderful content that I save for later.
However, because there is so much great material, I find myself returning only to the strongest visual content.
Ready to utilize strong visual content like infographics in your content? Use an example like the one below to help readers remember concepts you’ve written about.
Visual communication has two crucial benefits when it comes to memory.
First, it increases the likelihood that your content will create long term memories in your readers. That way, your readers will reflect on what they read and come back later for more content.
Additionally, strong visual communication will increase reading comprehension and memory while your readers are still reading the content. This is critical because it allows them to experience more insights and epiphanies.
It’s crucial to keep them following along if you want them to experience breakthroughs on the problems they’re looking to address.
Visuals support these insights because they summarize the critical points you want to communicate. This helps readers to make their own connections applying your ideas to their unique situation.
Help your readers connect with your content by using this modern design concept map.
It’s because our brain loves processing images. Warning... For the next 75 words we will discuss neuroscience.
Our brain has an important area called the visual cortex. It's a large area in the very back, and it's the part of the brain responsible for processing images.
But there's another area called the Broca’s area that is much, much smaller. That’s responsible for reading words.
We want to make it easy on our readers and help them access that huge region of the brain as opposed to making them struggle.
Neuroscience lecture complete.
There are additional reasons why word heavy content makes it hard on readers.
When we see the word, “tree,” we have to generate our own imaginary representation of the word based on our memories. This is because words are abstract.
The word itself is just a placeholder for everything we know about trees. If we make our readers generate meaning from abstraction after abstraction they will become exhausted and go back to Slack, Instagram or email.
You can use Visme to create a number of visuals to help amplify your message.
Create fun infographics centering with this step-by-step process infographic template.
Illustrate concepts and share your biggest ideas with this concept map template.
Transform your best performing content into an engaging presentation with the visual identity template.
Present your research with a sleek line graph using the chart infographic template.
What are your readers’ biggest challenges? What content can you create today that helps them move closer to their goals and create positive visual memories?
Visually represent the steps involved in a problem solving process using our process infographic template.
The third challenge to focus on when it comes to visual communication is whether or not your readers will find the content meaningful. Because there is so much content out there, and we read more everyday.
Tech Jury compiled some provoking stats about content creation on the internet.
With this in mind, how do you create memorable content that sticks out from the crowd?
The first thing to understand is why readers don’t remember the content they consume. We are all bombarded with information and we have to make decisions about what to filter out.
If you use visual communication effectively, your readers will flag your content as meaningful and apply your insights to their life. What does that look like in practice?
First, we have to understand the concept of coherence.
Aaron Antonovsky developed the concept of coherence to understand why people respond to stressful situations so differently.
What is the difference between folks who get anxious from stress and those who flourish under the pressure?
It has to do with how much confidence someone has that their environment is predictable.
Coherence is a mix of optimism and control.
This means two things for your content. First, if you bombard your readers with a bunch of information, it can actually decrease their coherence and create frustration.
Secondly, if we present information skillfully our content will help readers solve their biggest problems.
What are the most important questions you can answer for your readers? Illustrate your ideas and increase their coherence with the Principles of Learning template below.
Now that we’ve learned about the three common challenges that visual communication addresses, let’s explore how we can start putting visual communication strategies into practice today.
The first way to put visual communication strategies into your content is to use more visual and kinesthetic imagery.
A common mistake we make with content is using too much text. This is a problem because text heavy content ignores the 5 senses.
Don’t forget that your readers have a whole domain of experience outside of the voice in their head that reads content.
Research shows that senses are connected to memory retrieval.
Using content that provokes the senses is a practical strategy to help readers remember and fully understand your content. You also want your readers to have a more vivid mental picture of your content and brand.
One of the low hanging fruits with visual communication is to connect your strategy with VAK theory.
The theory helps us understand how different people process and learn information.
VAK stands for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (tactile). The theory states that individuals prefer to learn through blending these sense channels as opposed to focusing on just one.
Let’s explore how visual communication helps us to blend the visual and kinesthetic styles.
Kinesthetic images engage the feeling of movement. It deals with full-body sensations, such as those experienced during exercise.
These are all examples of kinesthetic imagery.
Fitness and outdoors adventure brands make great use of kinesthetic imagery. However, this is a tactic many other businesses ignore.
No matter what our industry we have customers that utilize the kinesthetic sense to make sense of the world.
Ready to translate your next content success story into a visually compelling graphic? Get the process started with our flowchart template!
Additionally, we can use visual imagery to help readers who need visuals to help make sense of things.
We want to pay attention to things like:
How do we use these elements in our visual communication strategy?
We can get some inspiration from the world of filmmaking. Think about how certain movies have impacted your emotions.
We might focus on the story, characters, and memorable moments in the film to try and understand this. However, underneath the surface the decisions about color are making a huge difference.
Let’s take a look at how directors and artists used orange colors to evoke certain moods in their films.
Now, contrast how the use of blue brings up an entirely different emotional reaction.
With this in mind think about the emotions your brand colors are likely to evoke.
The above chart can help us think about where our brand style is likely to take readers emotionally. When we layer in visual communication using visual and kinesthetic imagery we can create a powerful experience for the reader.
Think about the emotions and experience you want to deliver to your audience. Insert your brands colors and biggest ideas into our Venn diagram template.
Now that we know more about how to communicate visually with graphics that promote kinesthetic and visual imagery we can focus on what types of subject matter work well with visual communication.
For many brands, data storytelling is a great way to do this. We want to tell non-fiction stories that will be applicable to our audience.
Here’s a great video from Visme’s Make Information Beautiful series on data storytelling.
Okay, so with that in mind what’s a definition for data storytelling? It’s a process of analyzing real data and transforming it into a compelling story that drives a particular action.
Before we start brainstorming ideas to create our own compelling stories let’s examine some common examples for inspiration.
Earlier, we discussed how coherence is a blend of control and optimism. One way we can help our readers increase their coherence is by helping them analyze the trends in industries they care about.
One way to do this is by making a list of your favorite industry leaders. What predictions are they making? Compile their predictions and look for data that confirms or denies their ideas.
After you find something the experts agree on, search for data to investigate this trend.
We can use the following sources to collect data to investigate trends.
When you’re ready to share your findings use a line graph template from Visme like the one below.
Another way to use data storytelling is to display rankings. Visuals that rank options based on particular criteria can be enormously helpful to your audience.
Common criteria are:
There are a few options when it comes to the creation of the ranking system itself.
This is an excellent opportunity to serve your audience.
What are their biggest problems? What solutions are they using to solve these problems? Can we create a ranking visual that will help them make decisions more effectively?
Display your ranking system using a comparison report.
Another way to use data to create compelling visuals is by making comparisons.
Comparisons tell a story about two opposites. You can ask questions like:
Comparisons can tell a side-by-side story between either polar opposites, or very similar things.
A common type of comparison includes decision making tools like cost benefit analysis or pros and cons list.
Do your readers or ideal customers have complex decisions to make? Use a pros and cons infographic template to help them understand their options.
We’ve discussed how visual communication addresses core challenges in content marketing and how we can utilize strategies to address them. Ready to take action? Visme can help anyone develop a visual communication strategy.
Concerned about limited attention of your audience? Summarize the main points of your best performing articles and post them on social media to drive engagement.
It’s not easy to standout in today’s content ecosystem. A stellar visual communication strategy is necessary if we want to create meaningful content.
Systematically break down your audiences biggest problems in a visual presentation.
The philosophy of coherence is a concept that shows us how valuable reducing frustration can be for the health of our audience.
As a bonus, if we can help them do just that the science says they’re likely to find our content meaningful. Create a white paper that makes an impact on your audiences well being.
Too often, we create content that fails to engage the full sensory experience of our audience. When we do decide to utilize visual imagery our chances of success skyrockets.
Activate the kinesthetic and visual sense of your audience with a colorful infographic.
Stories are an ancient technology for generating meaning and sharing wisdom.
By delivering the stories that live inside our data we can communicate important insights in a compelling way. Create a chart in Visme and take the next step on your data storytelling journey.
It’s your turn! Get started with a template, and dive into the world of visual communication. Share your creation with me on Twitter and use #MyVisme!