The Power of Visual Literacy

It was Leonardo Da Vinci who coined the term, ‘sapere vedere’ which translates to ‘knowing how to see’. Nowadays, this is commonly known as visual literacy, which is the ability to interpret and take meaning from information presented in image form. We take in many images daily and the information we get from them is enormous. Whether it’s distinct branding, safety signals or our interpretations of art, the meaning we construct from the images around us influence our daily lives.

The Power of Visual Literacy

...our visual literacy ability means we can draw wider meaning from images with no words...

The evolution of visual literacy.

When we’re small, we learn how to understand the written word. We analyse it, learn it and then use the knowledge to form our own opinions about it. The same goes for images. No matter your industry, be it engineering, brand marketing or education, there’s a lot to be said for the power of visual literacy.

As marketing and branding have evolved, marketers have come to understand the importance of using visual literacy throughout their content. This will guide consumers through their customer journey and influence their buying decisions. The tricky part is knowing how to create images that won’t easily be misinterpreted (unless of course, that’s the intention). It can be difficult to take back a first impression so important to resonate with your target audience in all the right ways when it comes to your imagery. And it’s important to do it right from the very beginning.

A picture paints a thousand words.

We’ve all heard this saying before, and it’s true. As humans, our visual literacy ability means we can draw wider meaning from images with no words necessary. Striking images from the newspapers almost require no accompanying written story. As consumers, we have certain expectations and associations with a brand’s logo without needing to read any further.

Take the global brand Nike for example. What do you think of when you see the logo? Most would think of a brand that is high quality, current and trendy. Now think of the association you would make if you saw their iconic ‘swoosh’ shape affiliated on another site or with another brand. Would you automatically assume the brand or website was more legitimate for simply seeing the ‘swoosh’?

A universal language.

A huge advantage of nailing your imagery is that it transcends spoken language. Using the same Nike example, the ‘swoosh’ is universally recognised. The expectations are pretty consistent no matter what country you find yourself in.

Think about your smartphone. You no longer need to use complex language to communicate. We’ve created a whole new visual language through emojis, memes and GIFs. These add a whole new dimension of visual cues and texture to our conversations. However, without comprehensive visual literacy skills and context, these messages can be misconstrued and potentially problematic.

The way we communicate has evolved enormously to coincide with the rise of technology and social media. Regardless of the medium you choose; video, emojis, photography, consumers will be using their visual literacy skills to interpret your messages.

It’s important to consider all the ways your content can be perceived. That way, you can be more confident the message you intended will shine through without distraction.

To find out more about how Parable can help you bring your ideas to life, click here.

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