And that includes videos.
You may be making a social media ad. Or publishing an article. Or shooting a video documentary.
The fact that you are employing images, either moving or still, means you need to make full use of their capacity to provide meaning and evoke emotions.
1. Images do not dumb anything down
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” The precise origin of this saying is unknown, but I do like it being attributed to Napolean, who allegedly said: “Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu’un long discours (A good sketch is better than a long speech).”
Many marcom professionals would cringe at the thought of not being able to use images as part of their communications and marketing outreach. But believe me, when I was working in a thinktank, there are still individuals who believe images would ‘dumb down’ their content’ (with the exception of graphs). It’s true that the Magna Carta or the Constitution of France have not been updated with photos and videos, but images certainly do not bring down the value of your content.
In this day and age, due to the wide use of images and videos in search and in sharing, they bring more value to your content than ever before.
Even in some companies or some organisations, images can be a source of dispute when marcom professionals cannot freely employ images to pursue their goals. This is precisely because images are so powerful as a medium, different people have different notions of where the boundaries are. Some people think images should be limited to the products or services that organisation is providing.
But if you are using images simply to illustrate, you are really underestimating the power of images.
2. Go deep with your image
There are people who insist on using images in a one-dimensional fashion: if you’re selling cars, you show a car; if you are in shipping, you show ships.
Using images merely as illustrative tools (aka visual aid) is like taking all the adjectives out of an article. There is no depth left.
The very reason why images are so powerful is their ability to visually convey messages in all the depths of meaning possible. Don’t get me wrong, written words are powerful – which is why I am writing this instead of making a video out of it – and well-written words in prose or verse are invaluable treasures of our civilisations. However, not everyone of us appreciate the depth of meaning conveyed by words, because for one reason or another, they lack the experience or ability to imagine that in their heads.
This is where images come in: to make it easier for people to understand and appreciate that multi-dimensional meaning of your content.
So if you are selling cars, instead of showing a car, how about showing the feelings of driving, the sensations of being on the road, whether you are frustrated by the traffic or are freely wheeling around the countryside. How about going even deeper with your image, by telling the stories of people who use your car, their family relations, their community, their history, their culture and their self-perceived identity? This gives context and layers to your content.
3. Make heads turn
This leads me to my third and last point about the use of images and videos: make heads turn.
Apart from providing the necessary depth of meaning to the content, your images need to illicit emotions from your audience. I am not advocating blood and gore in order to shock. That is not the emotion you necessarily want, if just to get a click from them.
Further to helping people understand the context, situations and circumstances, images help your audience to feel something about your content.
It can be empathy, joy, sympathy, anger, fear, freedom. The more people feel about your content, the more they think they can relate to it or agree to it. This is how literature works, and this is also how your content could work, with the help of images.
Do you have any thoughts or experiences about images? Let me a comment below!
Eureka Moments are not so much moments of sudden realisation or enlightenment like Archimedes. They are moments while I am in my commute when I get to reflect on things that someone mentioned to me, things that I am confronted with, things that I or others have sought a solution for. They are more ‘oh I get it’ rather than ‘I have discovered it’.