Images + Color + Words = Visual Communication


It’s an age-old argument. Which do you think is more powerful: words or images?

In the retail world, it may very well be images. And while words and images do indeed reinforce one another, a great image doesn’t necessarily require words to convey the message. However when used in tandem, words and images do the best job of educating us about products, engaging our emotions and influencing our buying decisions.

Consider the fact that if 90% of us are visual learners, it stands to reason that brand manufacturers should use images – the right images – for the greatest visual impact when connecting their products with consumers.

It’s trite and it’s been heard hundreds of times, but it’s true: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Which has the greatest visual impact and communicates more effectively? An image of a couple in a romantic setting enjoying their favorite beverage – or just a photo of a beverage bottle with the headline: “Enjoy the Moment”? Actually, both work individually if the image is right. However, when used together the message is stronger and more succinct.

International road signs are another example of effective visual communication. No matter what country you’re in or what language you speak, the symbols, colors and meaning – for the most part – are universally understood. Imagine how difficult it would be to signal a dangerous curve in the road ahead using only words native to that country. In contrast, by using internationally accepted-images, the driver is quickly alerted to the severity of the curve and can know instantly what to do.

In much the same way, the use of relevant images to communicate in the retail world is essential. Regardless of the product or the setting, it’s been proven time and again that adding an attention-grabbing element to any product promotion increases visual impact, triggers consumer emotions and influences buying decisions.

But be advised, you need the right image to communicate effectively.

One of the reasons people respond to images is that they resonate on a personal or emotional level. Make sure your images are relevant to the products you’re promoting. If there is even the slightest disconnect, it could negatively impact the success of the promotion.

In addition to selecting the right images, color choice is equally important. Why does color matter? Like visual images, color elicits certain emotions and responses. The use of color is a major form of nonverbal communication for retailers. Nearly 60% of the time, people will decide if they’re attracted or not to a message based on color alone. Research also tells us that color can potentially increase brand recognition by up to 80%.

So, never underestimate the power of color.

The next time you are strategizing about merchandising a product or service, be aware of the importance of using captivating images and color for the greatest visual impact.

Written by Barry Eisenman, Marketing Strategist at Nutis Visual Communications Group.