They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. It turns out that’s not entirely accurate. Our crack team of investigative mathematicians crunched the numbers and discovered that pictures are actually worth 1,347 words.
We’re not saying that “they” are wrong (though we’re never going to let them live it down). They’ve simply underestimated the importance of imagery in communication.
Images provide needed visual references for explanatory and descriptive purposes. They can help illustrate difficult concepts and support educational efforts. They can frame a message and give it context. The mood of a piece can be set instantly when the perfect image is perched at the top.
But photography can only go so far. Marketing efforts routinely call for original artwork that can’t be captured by a camera lens. These images must be designed. They require a systematic approach that balances the image’s aesthetics with the message it’s trying to communicate. The differences between effective visual communication and one that falls flat can often be quite subtle.
This is why professional graphic design is just as crucial to your marketing as the copywriting, market research, and every other discipline that goes into creating it. When graphic design is done correctly, it feels perfectly organic, as if it were always intended to be where it is. This makes it easy to take for granted. This article will hopefully establish that it shouldn’t be.
Your Brand’s Identity? That’s Designed
Brand identities are central to all of an organization’s marketing efforts. They define who the company is, what they stand for, and how consumers will see them. They are the face of the company that sparks instant recognition.
And they don’t happen by accident. They have to be designed. Your logo, color palette, iconography, font choices, and other brand elements work together to create a cohesive visual language that gets woven through every piece of marketing collateral. It takes a trained eye to ensure they’re communicating properly, and that they’re working harmoniously to boost brand acceptance, as opposed to contradicting each other.
Consider some of the most iconic brands. A person only needs to catch a glimpse of the top of the golden arches to know a McDonalds is up the road. An apple with a bite removed conveys quintessential hipster techno-cool. Google’s brand is immediately recognizable from just their color palette, even if their logo is missing.
This is the power of graphic design. It can replace paragraphs of text with a simple image that communicates in a glance. Icons are aptly named. Good graphic design becomes a stand-in for the emotional connections people make with the brands they care about.
Graphic Design is Fundamental
Here’s a statistic that’ll bake your noodle. Nearly half of our brain’s neurons are directly or indirectly involved in visual information processing. Our sense of touch occupies 8% of the neurons in our cortex. Hearing pulls a paltry 3%. Vision, by comparison, dominates 30% of our cortex’s processing power.
We’re visual creatures, and we process information in visual form far more rapidly and effectively than in any other context. We can identify images in a few as 13 milliseconds, and it’s estimated that 80% of people are visual learners.
Our brains are built to parse visual information, which means that graphic design should be a fundamental element for any communication. Humans pull more meaning from good graphic design, and they do it faster than from text, music, jingles, or narration.
What’s more effective, a block of text listing off a dense set of statistics, or an attractive grouping of charts and graphs conveying the same information? The visual representations are more readily understood, and the lessons to be gleaned are much more likely to be absorbed and retained.
This means that graphic design can’t be ignored.
Good Graphic Design Creates Good Marketing
The lesson should be clear. When creating a marketing campaign, the visual components should never be afterthoughts. You shouldn’t write a piece of content and then throw in whatever image you can find to support it. You don’t want to pull a piece of clip art, throw your company name under it and call it your logo.
People are willing to forgive bad writing as long as they get what they need from it. Often people don’t even recognize bad writing because they simply don’t care. But bad graphic design sticks out like Mr. Rogers at a death metal concert. We recognize it immediately, and it taints our reactions to the messages it accompanies.
On the other hand, good design will elevate all of your marketing materials, letting them communicate more with less. Imagery that aligns with your messages registers with people instantly, often on an emotional and subconscious level. It gives the viewer visual landmarks that help them navigate your content and mental hooks to lash your messages deeply into their minds.
Marketing is, at its heart, the art of persuasion. To be persuasive, a message needs to resonate with the viewer. We know that strong design hijacks half of the viewer’s brain. It registers intellectually, emotionally, viscerally, and in some people, spiritually. Persuasion is most effective when it takes a holistic approach, which means that graphic design is the beating heart of marketing.
And if graphic design is marketing’s beating heart, then we’re its cardiologist. We have the expertise necessary to put graphic design to work for you. Give us a call if you need help with branding, web design, or just general marketing. We can juice your messaging with a shot of adrenaline straight to its heart.
As an aside, this article is 1,006 words long. Our calculations could have saved ourselves a lot of effort by replacing it with just 74% of a picture. But if we did that regularly, our writers would get bored, and the world already has enough Twilight fan fiction. We don’t want to open up their schedules to create more.