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As PR professionals, we work towards making our clients happy by meeting their main objective: raising awareness and sales of their product or service. At Sinclair Communications, we believe in the art of storytelling, and there’s no better way to tell a story than with effective imagery.

Over the last five years with the company, I’ve seen how just one amazing image can land a client a cover story and spark interest across multiple media channels: traditionally, online and on social media.

In today’s hyper-connected world, we live by a new mantra: Pictures or it didn’t happen. “We’ve now entered a phase in which visual communication is supplanting the written word, what some are now calling the dawn of the Imagesphere,” says Bob Lisbonne, CEO of Luminate and one-time SVP of Netscape. This ‘imagesphere’ in essence refers to the fact that we are overwhelmed by data, so we seek out information that makes communications simpler, less complex. The science backs it up, too: 90% of the information that is transmitted to our brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000x faster than text. It’s no surprise to see that visual is taking over our news feeds with quality photos, infographics, interactive videos and even memes which can provide a message that’s memorable at a glance.

Powerful visuals = evoked emotions = deeper engagement
Powerful visuals evoke deeper emotions and result in a deeper engagement with your content. And knowing how to identify emotionally powerful images is so important. Content marketing is about telling a story and creating a closer connection to the consumer, and powerful visuals, whether they’re still images or videos, make connecting both easier and more effective. 

Four key factors for powerful visuals 

Use authentic visuals: People want to know that what they’re seeing is real. It doesn’t always have to be perfect, but a real moment shows that the brand is honest.

Be culturally relevant to your audience: Be diverse and inclusive in your campaigns. You need to think about who your target consumer is and who it is that they will be able to relate to.

Use visuals that reflect the human experience: ‘Sensory currency’ is all the rage in the content world right now. As technology takes over more and more of our lives, we’ve seen a desire for things that are ‘real’, such as human contact and old-time, hands-on activities and professions. This trend combines nostalgia and a new appreciation for traditional skills, and seeing handmade products re-establishes the connection between maker and consumer.

Use visual storytelling tools like archetypal characters: Archetypes are personified symbols that allow the conscious mind to identify with, or access, subconscious desires, meanings and truths. Archetypes represent our aspirations, not just in a material sense, but often in a more mystical or spiritual sense. Archetypes also help us understand visible reality because they speak in the language of our mind itself. Branding archetypes go beyond merely stating product features and benefits – these storytelling tools connect with the customer in a deep and profoundly meaningful way. Researchers have identified 12 types of branding archetypes – get to know them here.

The touch of a button is all it takes to start telling a powerful visual story. Get creative, think outside the box, get that camera out and start clicking!