A Picture is Worth 1000 Words – Using Imagery in Your Communications
Some brands seem to have the use of images dialed in. Others seem to think it’s unnecessary decoration to their websites, blogs, and press releases.
Images as part of your communications are far more than pretty pictures or distractions to your message and content. In fact, images help to make your communication more readable, more memorable and can raise the bar on your brand’s impression.
Why are Images Important to Your Brand?
Images are critical to your communications because you’re trying to get the attention of humans. And studies have shown that images are important to people.
The theory of picture superiority gives us some clues as to why images are so critical in communication. People remember images better than they do words. And concepts that can be associated with images will be retained longer than those without. The effect increases with age, as well.
So, when making a critical point in a blog post, attaching a relevant image to that section will help your audience remember what you were saying, thus increasing the chance they will remember your brand.
The theory quickly steps outside of the lab and into the real world when we look at data specifically associated with brand communication. According to AP Newswire, press releases that incorporate images are 14% more likely to be read than ones that are text only.
Tactical Tips for Choosing Images
Acknowledging that images are important is only the first step. Choosing random images will draw attention to your content, but it won’t help elevate your brand.
There are three areas to consider when choosing images to accompany your brand’s communications
1 – Tone and Message
Tone and message are the most important of the three because it helps to inform the other two.
Take the time to think about the kinds of images you want representing your brand. Are you a digital printer that wants to leverage the effect of bright colors? Are you looking to humanize your brand with pictures of people in real life settings? Or, do you plan to eschew photos in favor of illustrations?
Whichever route you go, document it as part of your brand guidelines. But also spend a few minutes ensuring that you can find – or have created – images that meet your criteria. It’s great to decide on a style, but terrible to find out after your 4th article that you’ve run out of appropriate images.
2 – Images that Speak to Your Audience and Brand
The images that speak to a CIO are different than those that are relatable to a Millennial looking to buy skis. Choose images that are right for your audience, not just ones you like.
But even more than that, choose ones that illustrate your brand’s values. If you’re all about financial freedom, you’ll want images in that vein. Perhaps you’ll go with images of people enjoying the things in life that financial freedom offers, like vacations or luxurious homes. Or maybe you’ll prefer images of people that are happy and relaxed. Either way, the images should match both the tone you’ve decided on and your brand’s value story.
3 – Consistency
Once you’ve nailed down the tone and message you wish to convey, and the specific kinds of images that communicate to your audience what your brand is all about, now you have to stick to it.
While it’s fine to reach outside of the guidelines you’ve devised on occasion – such as using an image that speaks to an analogy in a blog post – most of your images should match your brand image definition.
Why? Because if your images are a confused patchwork of style, your brand will look confused as well. This leaves the subliminal impression with potential buyers that you don’t have it together. If you don’t pay attention to details with your own company, how can they trust you to care for them?
Images are not a substitute for bad content. But they can take good brand communication and raise them up to a more professional level. Because humans resonate so completely with images, choosing the right ones is important to attracting and retaining the attention of your potential customer. If you want them to remember you, your images should tell a story they want to be a part of.