Every marketing strategy, including a web design brief, should include a considered and comprehensive visual strategy.
Images representing your company should be selected intentionally, and not as an afterthought merely to beautify or break large blocks of copy.
Why? Well, it all comes down to neurobiology. Human beings are hardwired for visual communication.
Ninety percent of the information transmitted to our brain is of a visual nature. Our grey matter can process images much faster than text as we decipher the elements simultaneously rather that in a linear manner. We actively and automatically seek out patterns and relationships among objects and components.
Also images speak to us on a more primitive and emotional level first. Only then is the feeling we experience interpreted by our rational minds for meaning. The result is that visual information is transferred directly to our long term memories while text first has to be processed in the short term memory.
Visual communication encourages comprehension and is an effective way to convey complex information and ideas. Images improve comprehension of the content and express complex and emotionally loaded concepts such as our values and attitudes efficiently and effortlessly.
Compare the time spent on looking at an image representing the concept love to reading a paragraph doing the same. A photograph that was planned and executed deliberately will convey the message at first glance.
Effective visual communication requires a well thought-through plan. Here are a few guidelines for developing the visual design strategy.
FITNESS FOR PURPOSE
The images you select must be fit for purpose. Be clear on the objectives you want to achieve with the site and how the images should contribute to reaching these goals. Is the aim to have virtual showroom or is it educational in nature?
Also keep the context of the website in mind. When selecting a style, it is important to adhere to the company’s style guide and also to stay true to the industry style and ethic while at the same time keeping in mind what will resonate with the target market. Select images accordingly. For example, images on a financial advisor’s page will look very different to that of a ballet school.
SPEAK TO THE HEART
Do the images you have selected convey the right feelings and values for your services and products?
Remember, people don’t buy a product only on specifications. You want to appeal to your clients on an emotional level first before providing data about a product. You want to emphasise the intangible qualities of the product or service. Those are exactly the attributes that are difficult to put in words - craftsmanship, service, quality, freshness, opulence.
Images can influence the decision-making process and create a desire for a product or service much more effectively than reams of copy.
BETTER BRAND VALUE
Use images to engender trust, one of the most valued assets in business today. Images represent your brand and improper selection of images may spoil the brand value.
Ensure that the images and text messages on the site are congruent. Images that convey a different message to the written copy on the site, lead to dissonance in the client’s mind. They want instant relief from this mental discomfort and so they click out of the site. The chances of that visitor converting from browser to buyer, is slim.
Build brand awareness by picking images that encourage instant recognition of the web page’s relationship with your company.
Pick unique images and avoid placeholder images that serve no purpose in brand strategy.
Have a long term visual strategy and develop a visual style guide for the website as well as social media.
TARGET YOUR TARGET MARKET
Your ideal clients must also be able to recognise themselves in the images. If the client can identify with a photograph, they will respond positively.
Know your target market and select images which speak to the appropriate age and gender demographic of your clients. Make sure the photographs depict products, services or situations relevant to their own lives.
REMAIN RELEVANT AND REAL
Select images that are current and relevant. The only thing outdated images say about you is that are not on top of your game, whether true or not.
Be sensitive to social, cultural and gender stereotypes in your selection of photographs. Use photographs that portray real life. Images portraying authentic places and people draw creative associations in the site visitor’s mind. Business environment photographs of your own employees carry a much stronger message that stock images from another country and continent.
Most importantly, don’t let the quality of the images you use on your website tarnish the image of your company.
Invest in high quality and appropriate photographs.Call in the experts. We can help you develop a visual strategy to harness the power of images on your website.