Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with the idea behind this article. He said (in French, of course) that “A good sketch is better than a long speech.” As you might imagine, a picture is, in turn, worth much more than a sketch. How exactly are people affected by seeing a picture vs. hearing or reading thousands of words?
You Can See a Picture in The Blink Of an Eye
In 2005, Malcolm Gladwell wrote Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Here’s how he described the book in a Q & A session:
It’s a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, Blink is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.
Since then, researchers have suggested that Gladwell was exaggerating. It is argued that it takes 50 milliseconds for people to get an overall impression of what a picture is all about. And they may even not be aware of how deeply they are being affected. In short, pictures are very powerful in rapidly communicating a host of information.
People Are Fascinated by Pictures
Keep in mind that people have a natural curiosity and are drawn to check out things they see around them. While there might be reluctance to read through text, a picture is immediately seen. We all have pictures we share with others, whether they are of our adorable children or scenes from our last vacation. We are delighted and proud to show them off, and our contacts enjoy scanning them.
Now Smartphones Can Capture Pictures
Until recently, you had to have a camera in order to photograph something that caught your eye. Now, many people have smartphones, and it’s easier to take a picture than try to come up with words to describe what you’re seeing. With the click of a button, a picture can be stored and shared.
Along Comes Pinterest
The idea of a picture album was revolutionized when Pinterest came along. This software easily allows you to create an album by “pinning” images on a pinboard. You can also follow what your friends are pinning on their boards. To no one’s surprise, Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing social mediums around.
Managing Photos With Google+
This week, Google has reinforced the importance of picture sharing. Google+ now provides you with a cool option for presenting , storing, and sharing your pictures with family, friends, and even the world.
Thinking in Pictures
We can turn to Temple Grandin, a world-renowned speaker, for insights on just how important pictures can be:
In a high-tech MRI scan, the wiring that makes Temple Grandin’s brain unique shows up in vibrant colors. Grandin, a well-known author who has autism, has four times the typical number of connections in a brain area that controls the visual system. That may explain why she goes through life Thinking in Pictures, as her 1996 book described.
It is suggested that we all have a similar propensity to “think in pictures,” even though it is not as developed as what occurs for those with autism. Autism is sometimes described as associative thinking. A given picture will be associated in our minds with a cloud of related concepts and details. It is said that such associative thinking is a powerful method of developing innovative ideas and solutions. The picture can also trigger emotional and active responses.
Pictures to Persuade
Compare this associative thinking to how you might try to persuade someone to follow a course of action by using either spoken or written words. The person we are talking to must first capture a stream of words, and their brain must then interpret their meaning. At that point, their reasoning center will then decide how to proceed. However, if they simply receive a picture, they can immediately process and accept the call to action.
The Eyes Have It
There are many things that can be included in pictures to make them more effective. For example, pictures of faces where the eyes are clearly looking at you have a very powerful ability to create a strong connection between you and the picture. Likewise, if you need to develop trust in a person who is offering a product or service, then seeing his or her eyes in the video or picture can help you feel the connection and ultimately make a decision.
Of course the eyes are only a small part of the body language you may pick up when you see a picture or a video of someone with whom you might do business. Your perception of that person will have a major impact on how you process what you hear or see from them.
How to Use Pictures in Selling Goods
Given that pictures can trigger associative thinking, they are a valuable part of a marketer’s armory. They can be used in a brochure to illustrate important product attributes. Mobile devices like tablets or smartphones are ideal for showing such pictures. If the products can be bought online, the pictures can be the calls to action in making the purchases.
Pictures That Stimulate Recall
Not all purchases are made instantly, and often customers weigh different brands before making their decisions. But it can be helpful to establish a strong brand or product identity with an eye-catching and meaningful logo. A fleeting glance at a product flyer as you enter a store can trigger associative thinking can influence your choice.
If you need some creative inspiration on how to get pictures to work for you, a look at NextDayFlyers and all of its print products and ideas could be just what you need!