We are constantly surrounded by imageson our phones, TVs, computers, walls; there’s no escaping them. We have access to millions of pictures with a simple Google search, regardless of our location, and share them with friends. We can take a picture of ourselves and send it to our family.

Hi Mom Communicating Visually.jpg#HiMom #CommunicationFromAfar #InstantImages #Snapchat #FiltersMakeItFun

In a time not too long ago, photographs were used to capture a moment in time—a snapshot to embrace a memory. Now they are used to communicate—like a Snap to show friends what you’re eating. The visual shift in communication comes primarily from the ease at which we can now send images, but there are other reasons too.  

Lunch Food Communicating Visually#LookWhatImEating #Pretzels #PB&J #Pear #WorkingLunch #SnapStory

While images are easier to come by, useful consumer insights are still difficult to obtain. Focus groups have their place, but most consumers struggle to articulate the real reasons motivating their behaviors. This is about to change—through the enhancement of consumer insights with the power of imagery. But first, let’s talk about the influence that visual communication has.

Imagery is Universal 

We are visual creatures, so visual communication is only natural. Visual communication is defined as the transfer of knowledge through the use of a visual aid. The visual aid can be anything—diagrams, films, photography, cartoons—and it has been found that, by adding visuals to words, learning improves by up to 89%. Some of the ways these visuals are known to improve learning is by:

  • Decreasing learning time.
  • Improving comprehension.
  • Enhancing retrieval.
  • Increasing retention.

Words can be—and are—useful to learning, but with supplementary images, people truly remember what they saw.

Visuals are even processed differently in the brain. It has been shown that humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text and can recognize a familiar object within 100 milliseconds. This is due to humans relying heavily on their sense of sight throughout evolutionary time.

Our olfactory senses are weak—10,000 times weaker than that of a dog’s—and our auditory senses aren’t as tuned either—our auditory range is a quarter that of a mouse’s. And although our eyesight still doesn’t compare to some animals’, it is the main sense we use to process the world around us and is the reason there are more neurons dedicated to vision than the other four senses combined.

Cute Puppy Communicating Visually.jpg#PuppyPower #CantSmellHerselfThough #IWonderIfISmell #PuppyNosesSaveLives

We are such visual beings that we even encode words as a series of images, so that when we read, we are recalling images from our brain, not the specific letters the word is composed of. So what are the most indicative cues that tell us what a word is?

The first and last letter.

“Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”
- Source: Fox News

So while we do differentiate between reading text and images, our brains are so visually wired that the words we read are recalled as images.

Communicating Insights Visually 

At Ideas To Go, we’ve harnessed the momentum of powerful imagery and created an online survey platform that collects consumer insights through images. It’s called the Inspire® Consumer Insight Platform.

How does it work?

With the Inspire® Consumer Insight Platform, we develop a custom survey with our clients—that is sent to a panel comprised of our Creative Consumers® associates. Responses are presented in a variety of ways:

  • Answers are compiled into graphs and charts to visualize trends found within the data.
  • Along with each survey response, consumers upload their own images—adding more nuance to each answer .
  • And, with every image uploaded, consumers also provide word tags—not only categorizing the image, but providing further insight into each response. Examples of tags can be seen under each image of this article

This combination of more traditional survey responses, with the addition of imagery and open-ended tag words, creates an expansive portfolio of rich consumer insights. Clients can go through their secure portal at any time to sift through the survey responses and explore tags, images, questions, and even consumer demographics.

Inspire The Power of Visual Communication#ImagesEnhanceInsights #ThePowerOfVisualCommunication #InspiringNewIdeas

Using the power of visual communication, the Inspire® Consumer Insight Platform provides more when it comes to insight discovery. More understanding of your consumers, more insights to be uncovered, more creativity in consumer responses, and most importantly—more innovative outcomes to move your business forward.


Tyler Thompson

Tyler Thompson is a Creative Process Designer and Facilitator at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.