How Visuals are Related to Branding

© Joanne Tan ,6/13/2017

What image comes to many people’s minds when the name “Jackie O”, former wife of John F. Kennedy is mentioned?  Most likely the image of the pink suit she was wearing on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination. Whether people think of her as “Jackie Kennedy”, “Jackie O”, “the first lady”, or as a fashion icon of her time…whatever the substance of her “brand” is, in the eye of each beholder, her pink suit has become the most remembered visual associated with Jackie, and with JFK’s assassination.

Can anyone think of Walt Disney and Disneyland without their trademark image of the fairy tale castle? Likewise, Nike is not Nike without their checkmark…  

A brand’s visuals are the artistic representations of the heart and soul of that brand’s value, purpose, and differentiating power in the market place.  Visuals such as a brand’s logo, images, videos, color, font, style, etc.,  symbolize the essence of both the owner and the brand itself, its organization, or a company, and the product/service itself. Visuals define the brand itself in relationship with the brand’s audience/buyer. Branding visuals are the ambassadors, messaging to its target audience in supplementation of verbal language.  Visuals breath life to plain words. Visuals activate the five senses of hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Visuals magnify a brand’s power, sometimes exponentially.  Visuals create associations in our subconscious brain along with the tagline that has been distilled from a brand’s unique value proposition. Visuals are like the clothes a brand “wears”, literally and physically.  The pink suit became part and parcel of “Jackie”, forever associated with her “brand”.

In today’s era of information overload and shortened attention span, social media is getting increasingly visual: from posting words, to photos, to videos, – it is said that more than 90% of social media content will be videos by 2019 (LinkedIn Social Selling, SJ, 5/31/17.)  As of now, more than 75% of B2B purchases are influenced by social media. (Corporate Executive Board 2012 Connect & Sell 2012 IBM Buyers Preference Study 2011.)

Visuals enhance the underlying brand with the power of association, symbolism, cultural ideals, storytelling, subconscious messaging aimed directly at the limbic brain where trust, loyalty, and decision making reside. This mid part of our brain processes visuals but has no capacity for verbal language. That’s exactly why people always make their decisions first EMOTIONALLY. They then justify afterwards with numbers, facts, rational thoughts that are processed by the executive frontal lobe of the brain, which was developed last in our 20’s, during the most recent evolutionary stage for homo sapiens.