Get A Custom Quote
Back to all Blog posts

Harnessing the Power of Visual Communication for Your Organization

May 6, 2021 Resources

Visual communication refers to the use of visual elements to express a message, convey an idea, or improve understanding to a specific audience. It lies somewhere between graphic design  — which is primarily focused on the creation of visual content — and communication design — which is concerned with the strategic development of messaging and the graphics used to communicate. It can overlap with marketing, but it is a distinct discipline that has a different purpose and goals.

It can be either digital or physical; common examples of digital visual communication include graphics, illustrations, and animations. Digital elements alone are not enough, though; you must also incorporate physical elements, particularly signs, plaques, and fonts and typography, to be effective.

It’s appropriate to use anytime you need to communicate a message to someone internally or externally. However, it’s crucial to understand why, scientifically speaking, visual communication is such a powerful tool — and how you can best wield it for your organization.

The Science of Visual Communication

Sight is, arguably, the most powerful sense, because the human brain is hardwired for visuals. As much as 80% of all external input is processed by the brain’s visual pathway. The brain only takes 13 milliseconds to process images, while it can take 114 milliseconds to “convert” sounds into words. Further, some research suggests that the brain translates written words into images, building up a visual dictionary to understand writing more quickly.

With visual communication, you can connect with others on a biological level. You have an opportunity to share your message in a way that resonates with your audience. Because visual communication is so deeply ingrained in the mind, it greatly improves your chances of being understood by others.

Uses of Visual Communication

There are countless ways to use visual communication in the workplace, including:

  • Engaging employees or clients;
  • Wayfinding in your building or office;
  • Onboarding and training new employees;
  • Communicating or simplifying complicated information;
  • Visualizing data and statistics;
  • Informing customers who you are or what you do;
  • Reminding employees about company policies, best practices, or updates.

In addition to its various uses, visual communications can also take several different forms, including:

  • Physical graphics, and signage in the office;
  • Infographics;
  • Presentations;
  • Photos and videos;
  • Process diagrams and flowcharts;
  • Charts and graphs;
  • Blackboards, whiteboards, and dry erase boards in the office;
  • Print-outs, memos, and paper handouts.

The message you want to convey and the purpose of that message will dictate the form it takes. The possibilities that stem from visual communication are nearly endless, however, and you can adapt different mediums to best suit your message and needs.

The Importance of Visual Communication

Strong, clear, and open communication is essential in the workplace. Anything that improves how your message is understood and remembered can be highly beneficial for your entire organization. 

Because visual communication can simplify and amplify messaging, it may have a bigger impact on your audience, helping them understand and retain that information. It can grab peoples’ attention, making sure they actually take in your message. And, because of how the brain processes imagery, it allows people to do all of this more quickly, saving everyone valuable time.

Simply put, every organization can benefit from effective visual communication.

How to Improve Your Visual Communication 

There are several ways you can improve visual communication in your organization so you, your employees, and your business as a whole can enjoy its benefits:

Have a Goal

No matter how you plan to use it, make sure you have a specific goal in mind when incorporating it into your messaging. Consider what you want people to take away from it. With that goal in mind, work to determine how you can use visuals to communicate your message.

Remember: visual communication is a way to reinforce and augment your message; it is not a message in and of itself. If you aren’t sure what you want to accomplish, you’ll likely dilute the power of your message and ultimately confuse others.

Align with Branding

While there is some overlap, visual communication and branding are two separate disciplines. The purpose is to use visual elements to convey information; branding is the process of establishing your organization’s identity and distinguishing your business from your competitors.

Though it has many other uses, think of it as a tool that can be used to enhance company branding. It’s powerful when your brand identity and company messaging are aligned, especially for any externally-facing marketing materials. Not only is it clear what your message is, but it’s also apparent who that message is coming from. 

Keep Physical Communications Up-to-Date

Prioritize your physical visual communications. While digital messages can be updated almost instantly, it’s all too easy to let physical communications fall by the wayside simply because they take more time and energy. However, physical communications — such as your company logo, latest policy update, or building signage — are some of the most important things to keep updated. 

For example, if you move to a new office in your building and your sign points customers to the old location, you could very easily miss out on new business. This can be frustrating for your customers and have a directly negative impact on your bottom line. It’s well worth your time to update your physical signage to avoid these kinds of situations and ensure your employees and customers have access to the information they need.

Train Employees

Take steps to educate your employees about visual communication, including its purposes and various uses. Try to focus this training on the specific role that visual communication plays in your workplace.

Your entire staff doesn’t need to become expert visual communicators or designers; they just need a basic understanding of it. This may improve their ability to understand and engage with any messaging you share with them, as well as anything they may need to communicate with clients or other employees.

Get Creative

Don’t hesitate to get creative or think outside of the box when it comes to strategizing and crafting your visual communications. With so many different uses and mediums, there is always something new you can try. You never know what will work for your organization. Some undiscovered methods may be better for both your employees and your customers, helping your business to thrive in entirely new ways.

Get a custom Quote