Is a Picture Really Worth a Thousand Words?

When we think of the term ‘communication’, whether it be within the context of our work, personal lives, or even across social media chatter, our minds instantly perceive this to be in the form of written words or the spoken language. But the reality is that the definition of communication is changing, especially within the realm of businesses. Gone are the days where every project proposal is submitted in the form of a Word document or client success metrics are reported on an Excel spreadsheet. 

So if we’re not talking about the standard form of communication, then what are we talking about? Pictures. We’ve spoken a lot recently about the drastic popularity growth and intrigue around Pinterest as a relatively new social media platform. But what I think may be underestimated are the images that have pulled such an extensive audience to continue coming back to the site. Several forward-thinking companies are beginning to recognize how you can truly cultivate a brand image and develop a message all through a series of images. Nordstrom has generated an experience on Pinterest as if you were front and center at a fashion show. And, Whole Foods Market has leveraged images on Pinterest that create a mouth-watering reaction. Both are great examples of the power of visual communications.

Whole Foods Pinterest

Nordstrom pinterest

These same principles can also be applied on an individual level. Take a look at one job seeker’s living resume all created through the use of Pinterest. Whether this will become the new standard over traditional resumes is left to be determined. But it’s difficult to deny this woman’s ability to communicate a strong message efficiently and effectively with the use of nearly all images and limited words. You walk away with a strong sense of the candidate’s capabilities, experience and personality.

Pinterest isn’t the only kid on the block that recognizes this popular communication form. ABC News is well in front of the trend and realizes the power behind telling a story through photographs. The news site’s daily blog, ‘Picture This’ has shared with the world some of the most iconic photos that capture in one frame the essence of what is happening at that very moment. Daily posts spotlight everything from breaking news to innovative technologies and images from around the globe.  

So what’s behind the power of images in a world full of chatter? That’s exactly the differentiator – lack of chatter. One still image slows down your thinking and the speed of everyday life, almost begging for audience engagement. Beyond that, images have an amazing ability to capture viewer attention, send a powerful message, and provoke emotion within those people that is significantly more difficult to do with  words alone. Images transport you in the mind, location and emotional state where the artist wants you to be. 

This is not to undermine the importance of the written or spoken word. This will be a necessary piece of our daily lives and, frankly, a positive function of our society that will continue to exist. But it’s important to think strategically about using the best form of communication to disseminate your message effectively to your target audience…even if this means thinking outside the box. So, how will you curate your next brand message? Will you use words, images or both?