The Importance History Places On Visual Communication

The origins of the expression ‘a picture paints a thousands words’ can be traced back centuries and is an early indication as to the importance placed on visual communication throughout the ages. This can be seen in art and literature where it took a variety of forms that later became the standard expression we know today.

The Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote in his 1861 book titled Fathers and Sons “The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book”. It’s also sometimes attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte who said “A good sketch is better than a long speech”.

The phrase later became synonymous with advertising in the 1920’s thanks to its varied use in adverts drafted by Frederick R. Barnard but its origin in modern times is widely attributed to a newspaper editor named Arthur Brisbane of the Syracuse Advertising Men’s Club, who in 1911 was quoted as saying ‘‘use a picture. It tells a thousand words’.

Regardless of how or where it was first used the expression clearly indicates the importance many place on visual communication.

Ancient Art Meets Living Tradition

handsCave Art Is An Early Form Of Visual Communication

Cave Art Is An Early Form Of Visual Communication

The human desire to tell stories through the depiction of images is a natural instinct. Early forms of visual communication can be seen in cave drawings dating as far back as 40,000 years. In Maros, Southern Sulawesi, pictures of the hands of early cave settlers are thought to be the earliest hand stencils known to man. The cave also has examples of sketches of hoofed animals and pigs presumably helping to educate young hunters of their prey and to tell stories of their successes…or losses.

Examples of cave art and paintings can be seen across many regions of the world. Even though they date back tens of thousands of years, these images still form an important part of living tradition. This is evident in Australian caves where Aboriginal engravings depicting ancient lifestyles and traditions have in some cases been repainted signifying the depth of meaning these paintings still hold to local people.

Visual Communication In The Real World

Of course you don’t have to go back thousands of years to see visual communication in action. From a simple arrow on a sign-post to working instructions for manufacturers, visual communication is used in various forms across society and business.

Computer aided design is also helping to reduce production costs for imagery thanks in part to its flexibility in changing styles, textures and colours. A good example of this is the IKEA catalogue. CGI images now make up 75% of the all the images in the catalogue helping to reduce shipping costs and speeding up production.

In the manufacturing and engineering world CGI animation is helping to showcase conceptual ideas or explanations of product and services to help sales teams increase conversions whilst in the architectural world CGI animation is being used to help showcase technical designs and internal finish options helping to expedite client decision making.

Furthermore the introduction of CGI and animation has helped these companies form a progressive digital presence opening up youtube channels to increase social actions and subsequently drive traffic through SEO.

Visual Communication In The Blink Of An Eye

In The Blink Of An Eye

In The Blink Of An Eye

It’s no wonder we have such a preference for visual communication when you consider our brain’s ability to process images so much faster than words. Recent research conducted by MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences department has suggested your brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds whilst other research indicates the brain processes images 60 times faster than words.

More research is required to confirm these findings but one thing that is widely accepted is that the brain processes images faster than words. So if visual communication is so effective why are we writing a super long blog post to introduce you to the subject rather than showing a single image that tells the story faster than the blink of an eye – and you’d be right to ask that question.

Transcending The Digital Age

As a marketing and visual communication company we couldn’t miss the opportunity of killing two birds with one stone. Writing SEO specific content whilst raising awareness of visual communication was simply too good to miss. Furthermore, SEO strategy that combines Inbound best practice can convert traffic to leads and as inbound leads are 61% cheaper to obtain than outbound, it’s simple but cost-effective marketing.

However, don’t discount images as part of your SEO strategy. Relevant images that contain alt tags consisting of keyword descriptions can help increase search visibility and are an important part of your visual communication plan that drives traffic but also communicates your company’s persona becoming immediately identifiable with customers (and potential customers!) wherever they may be on the globe.

Contact 099creative today to find out how we can help shape your company’s visual communication