It may come as a shock that the majority of businesses overlook the huge potential of visual imagery to provide a significant market advantage. The difficulty of empirical measurement causes many to shy away from embracing it, or even to dispute the effectiveness of visuals to shape perception. As John Wanamaker said over a century ago: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.
It’s the emotional power of visuals that is both their strength and the reason they are mainly dismissed in the boardroom. On one side, emotion drives action (and sales), but how do we measure emotional connection in any meaningful way?
Yet the companies which embrace visuals – defined as “brand-led” companies – consistently perform better in the market than companies that do not. In the wake of the success of Apple, Nike, Starbucks and the like, more traditionally-led firms scrambled to emulate that success. Me-too strategies appeared everywhere, without an inherent understanding of the underlying driver of the brand success – a deep commitment to visual communication and design to engage customers at the human level. Copying tactics are always playing catch-up, and bound to fail.
In “The E-Myth Enterprise”, Michael E. Gerber writes: ” Should it come as a surprise to you when I say that to conceive, create, and successfully maintain an extraordinarily effective business… has much more to do with the management of impressions than it has to do with the management of people?
The management of impressions is the management of people. And visual impressions are the most powerful impressions of all.”