Make the Leap to Using Visuals Evoking Emotion

Does your team seem to be using more and more words, yet communicating less and less?

Today more than ever, we live in a visual society. Especially in the online world, everyone relies on the power of photos and engagement of video.

While researching a project recently, I was struck by three surprising data points from visual communicator Dan Roam:

  • Research from IBM found that 90% of all data collected in history has been generated in the last two years.
  • Research from Cisco found that 90% of all data transmitted online today is visual.
  • Roam’s experience indicates that 90% of leaders have no idea how to effectively use visuals in their business.

90%-90%-90%. We’re generating more data than ever, that data is overwhelmingly visual, and most of us don’t know how to use images. No matter what business you’re in, the future of your business is visual.

As a church leader, it is incumbent that you get better at using visual images in your communication.

Whether drawing them, looking at them, or talking about them, visual communication adds enormously to your listener’s ability to think, to remember, and to do.

Visual imagery is, in itself, another whole language. Being fluent in that language gives us mind-boggling power to articulate thoughts, communicate those thoughts, and solve problems in ways we otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

It’s time to make the leap and use visuals to evoke emotion.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Visual Hammer, by Laura Ries

The best way into a mind is not with words at all. The best way into a mind is with visuals.

But not any visual. You need a “visual hammer” that hammers a verbal nail. The Marlboro cowboy. Coca-Cola’s contour bottle. Corona’s lime.

The cowboy hammers “masculinity.” The contour bottle hammers “authenticity.” The lime hammers “genuine Mexican beer.”

A trademark is not a visual hammer. Almost every brand has a trademark, but fewer than one out of a hundred brands have a visual hammer. A trademark is a rebus which communicates nothing except the name of the brand.

A visual hammer, on the other hand, communicates the essence of the brand.

Visual Hammer is the first book to document the superiority of the “hammer and nail” approach to branding. Some examples.

  • The pink ribbon that made Susan G. Komen for the Cure the largest nonprofit foundation to fight breast cancer.
  • The Aflac duck that increased Aflac’s name recognition from 12 percent to 94 percent.
  • The green jacket which made the Masters the most-prestigious golf tournament.
  • The watchband which made Rolex the largest-selling luxury watch.
  • Colonel Sanders who made KFC the world’s largest chicken chain.

Why are marketing plans usually nothing but words when the best way into a mind is with the emotional power of a visual?

After reading Visual Hammer, you might want to tear up your current marketing plan and start fresh.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In a typical organization – and that includes churches – there is a whole gang of smart people so overwhelmed by verbal data that they’re hard pressed to know what to pay attention to.

That’s where pictures come in.

The basics of visual thinking have nothing to do with being an artist, or creating impressive designs using the latest computer application. Visual thinking is learning to think with your eyes.

Everyone already has good visual thinking skills, even if they don’t acknowledge it. Visual thinking is a very powerful way to communicate information that will help solve problems. It may appear to be something new, but the fact is, we already know how to do it.

Visual thinking starts with understanding the power of the image.

When you live in a world of word, you tend to see the visual world as secondary to verbal reality. Yet nature is visual, not verbal.

Take a walk in the park. Scuba dive in the ocean. Climb a mountain. This is reality and there are no words in nature. Words are useful devices to communicate the reality of nature.

Photographs, illustrations and drawing are artificial, but they too are a more direct representation of nature than are words.

The Coca-Cola bottle is not just a bottle. It is a visual hammer that nails in the idea that Coke is the original cola, the authentic cola, the real thing. In a Coca-Cola commercial, the visuals speak louder than the words. That’s the work of a visual hammer.

That’s the difference between designing a trademark and designing a visual hammer. Almost every brand has a trademark, but few brands have visual hammers.

A visual hammer doesn’t just repeat your brand name; it hammers a specific word into the mind. For brands that can create and dominate a new category, that word is “leadership.”

When you live in a world of words, you tend to see the visual world as secondary to verbal reality. Yet nature is visual, not verbal.

A visual hammer makes an emotional impact on the right side of the consumer’s brain which motivates the left side of the brain to verbalize the idea and then store it.

Your right brain doesn’t think in the normal sense of what we mean by “thinking.” It reacts emotionally and involuntarily.

To develop a hammer you need a narrow focus you can visualize in a dramatic way.

Don’t fret about narrow concepts not appealing to as many people as broader ones. Better to use a narrow concept to motivate a segment of the market rather than a broad concept that motivates no one.

Laura Ries, Visual Hammer

A NEXT STEP

Explore the power of visual images in solving problems with the following exercise.

Write down a list of at least four questions about a ministry situation or problem you team has recently faced.

Cluster the questions in four groups, giving each set a title.

Bring your team together around a table, and give them a large sheet of paper. Ask you team to create a quadrant by drawing two lines on their paper.

Place magazines, newspapers, precut pictures, fabrics, thread, color pencils, and glue sticks in the sender of the table. Provide plenty of materials in order for all participants to use simultaneously.

Each team member will use the materials on the table to visually answer their question. Designate a time limit for the exercise.

When completed, ask each team member to present and explain their collages. As a group, determine the single best image that represents the best answer for each question.

This exercise demonstrates the power of visual images in answering questions or problems you are encountering.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

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The Amazing Power of a Brand: How the Yellow Border Transports Us Through Time

There are times when pictures are worth more than a thousand words…

My wife travels to Baltimore, MD at least once a month on business. Because I work for a virtual company (Auxano) with no “office,” my primary role of Vision Room Curator requires only an Internet connection to “set up shop.” Occasionally, I accompany her and we spend the evening or weekends visiting in the area. Recently we found ourselves with a couple of hours to spare before leaving Washington DC to return home. I made a list of places to visit, and we agreed on the National Geographic Museum. Located in the heart of the city just a few blocks from the White House, the Museum had a surprise in store for me:

A literal wall of all the National Geographic magazine covers since the magazine’s launch in 1888.

NGwall1

A story I wrote a few years ago, and updated later, immediately came to mind:

The image below,  from the December 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine, once again stirred memories.

Giant sequoia

The following is an updated repost from 2009:

NGM Oct 2009

Images are often powerful reminders of our past. One of my boyhood memories is that of eagerly anticipating the monthly delivery of “National Geographic” magazine.

The familiar yellow border outlining an amazing photo was my ticket for travel around the country and the world. It’s a pleasure I enjoy to this day, as my mother continues give the magazine as a gift each year. Until recently, I kept them all – now going on 36 years, plus dozens of other pre-1979 issues I have picked up at occasional yard sales (but that’s another story!).

The October 2009 issue has a striking image of a redwood tree on it. As soon as I saw the magazine in its shrink-wrapped shipping bag, I was transported back to first grade show and tell: my crude drawing of a redwood tree, taken from a July 1964 NG story.

I filed that thought away, and not long afterwards, had the occasion to visit my boyhood home in Tennessee. I asked my dadNGM July 1964 (who was still living at the time) about that magazine, and sure enough, he had kept the magazines too! I pulled the issue off the shelf and thumbed through it, gazing again at living giants thousands of years old, comparing them to the same family of trees 45 years later. While I enjoyed that trip down memory lane, there was still something tugging at my thoughts.

When I returned home, I searched my library and found the answer: Growing Spiritual Redwoods by William Easum and Thomas Bandy. Published in 1997, it was a striking call for church leaders to understand the new paradigm the church was entering. They likened the healthy church to a redwood tree. I remember reading the text when it first came out, and my copy bore highlighted sections, Post-It© Notes, and scribbles throughout.

Using the metaphor of the redwood tree, the authors described the growing and healthy church as follows:

  • They stand taller than any other tree, but their visibility is less a function of the numbers of their adherents, and more the magnitude of their ministries
  • They hold aloft an enormous umbrella of intertwined branches, which shelter a huge diversity of life in an atmosphere of peace and mutual respect
  • They are resistant to crisis from beyond and disease from within. Political winds do not break them, and ideological fires cannot burn them down
  • They put down strong, extensive root systems that intertwine with those of other Redwoods. They draw nutrition from unexpected sources, and reach out into unlikely places
  • They regenerate in abundance. Not only do seeds initiate new life across the forest floor, but they sprout vigorously even from the stumps of felled trees

What can your church learn from the redwood tree?

The Lesson of the Redwood Tree aside, I was again reminded of the power of the visual image in communicating. That visit gave me a sobering perspective on what it takes to deliver that image. Walking through the rest of the museum, I was struck by the lonely quest the NG photographers had embarked on: months of often-solitary work, shooting 50,000 to 90,000 images to get the few dozen that ultimately become a story.

That’s the price they willingly paid to bring their vision to fruition.

What price are you paying to bring your vision to reality?