We live in a visual world. To succeed organisations, businesses and individuals need to provide strong visual imagery and branding.
Visuals, especially photography, are so important because they provide immediate impact. They explain, appal, excite, outrage, uplift and enlighten, sometimes all at the same time. They provoke a powerful emotional response from supporters in a way which words – or any other form of communication – can’t compete with.
However, their power to deliver an immediate response sometimes masks their inability to leave a lasting impression.
This is where words come to the fore. Carefully crafted slogans, straplines and headlines can last longer in the memory.
This may sound like communication heresy, but please bear with me….Remember the “Naughty but nice” seventies cream cake adverts penned by the famous Salman Rushdie. No one can remember the visuals, but the phrase lives long.
And then there are all those famous tabloid headlines. We all have our favourites. But we rarely remember the images they accompanied.
Other examples can be drawn from the contemporary charity world.
I don’t recall Christian’s Aid logo, but I always have an affinity to this charity because its strapline We believe in life before death is so strong. It works because it articulates the charity’s humanity, twisting the Christian message in a way that appeals to believers and non-believers alike.
I’ve also seen a few Oxfam posters recently. All I remember is the Be Humankind slogan. It lodged in my mind because it’s a clever pun; it’s both a positive and powerfull call for action; and it plays on our desire to contribute to a better world.
I’d never suggest that organisations slash their photography budgets and sack their graphic designers: in the land of charity communication visual imagery will always remain king. And that charity trustee at the function was right. Pictures do speak a thousand words.