Articles with images get 94% more total views. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Pinterest and Instagram were among the fastest growing social networks of the last two years, thanks to the power and influence that images can have. But why is it that images work so well at grabbing our attention, and how can businesses utilize this to maximize their visibility?
Jerome Butler, the psychologist of New York University describes a study that shows how people only remember 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, but around 80% of what they see and do. Businesses therefore should take note of the power of images and position visual media at the forefront of the marketing agenda.
Small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) fighting for attention on the internet first must be seen in order to be heard; and good quality imagery can tell a brands story with one glance. To ensure images achieve this, and to make use of the power of visuals, businesses need to create a resilient visual strategy when planning online communications. This means much more than having a snazzy logo; it means populating websites and social channels with images that represent the core values of a brand in order to engage and inspire the target audience.
Painting a picture of your brand
Choosing images to represent your brand is just as important as the business’ key messages or mission statement. First and foremost it’s crucial that the target audience remains central to image selection and the imagery used conjures an instant picture of the brand and its core values.
For example, a luxury brand trying to attract an affluent clientele might look to use high resolution, well executed images. For a value brand on the other hand, graphic clean imagery with a clear message best represents the brand’s messaging. Businesses should keep in mind that every image displayed through its owned channels will send a message to its audience, and ultimately influence their decision to engage with the brand.
To be impactful, images should be kept simple and clear. When it comes to designing the platforms that images and brand content will be displayed on, the same rules apply. If the website or blog is too cluttered with visuals, it’s much harder for potential customers or clients to understand the fundamental business offering. Images should be used for at-a-glance comprehension and never misused or end up diluting the company’s key messaging.
To ensure the audience instantly absorb the key points, whether in text, image or video format, imagery should be a focal point on the page. This may all seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many websites are hard to navigate because the owner has tried to cram too much information onto the page.
Keeping Imagery Current
It’s important for businesses to ensure that individuals remain engaged and that the brand is viewed as contemporary, current and dynamic at every interaction.
To do this businesses can create buzz around calendar events. However, when various brands end up using the exact same generic imagery, they can often become lost amongst the sea of competition. Instead, by assessing the company’s messaging and using eye-catching, professional and original photos, businesses can create real standout.
For example, when Valentine’s Day comes around, why not have a go at tapping into the image trends that are currently ‘in vogue’ across the web, rather than using the same old photos that often blend into the background of the day?
Visual design trends are important for brands to tap into as they represent the changing tastes of the nation, which is vital for businesses to understand if they are to create an emotional connection and interactive engagement with the audience.
From our research we have identified a series of image trends for 2015 including:
- Sensory immersion: As technology increasingly influences more aspects of our lives, the desire to be immersed in experiences that stimulate the senses increases.
- Text boxes across busy images: The rise of content marketing has increased the need for visual storytelling. As images are getting busier, the usual composition with copy space will give way to tinted and semi-transparent text boxes, allowing visuals to speak in more ways than one.
- Super still life: Small screens love big images, especially when it comes to still life imagery. Graphic and dramatic both work well on a phone screen. We can expect to see more creativity and expertise in the representation of inanimate objects, through exquisite photography and skilful arts and crafts work.
Maximizing the visibility of your images
We all know that content is king, especially online. However it would be a shame to create eye-catching photos for no one to end up ever actually seeing and appreciating them. Visual content is a great hook for attracting and retaining website traffic, but businesses need to update it regularly, while also making sure all images are consistently of a high quality.
If a brand has an active website, it will climb higher up in the search rankings. Search engines like Google look more favourably on websites that have up-to-date and relevant content, including images that are tagged appropriately.
Whether the images are placed on company websites, or independently hosted blogs, it’s important for the brand to ensure that the images used fit the purpose of the platform and also match the brands values.
Guaranteeing your messages continue to be heard
A great way to add value to your website can be to change or update the feature images and graphics throughout the site, as this can instantly make it look refreshed and revived. By updating these images every few weeks, interest in the site can grow and visitors will return to explore other areas of the website that they may have previously missed.
In today’s crowded business environment visibility is vital and using images in a strategic way can enable brands to reach new and existing audiences online. Companies need to make sure that their audiences can immediately understand their messaging and values through the visual content they use, whilst maintaining maximum visibility. By utilizing the power of images businesses can be sure to create standout and reach, engage and inspire their key audience.
Rebecca Swift is the Director of Creative Planning at iStock by Getting Images