The Rise of Visual Communication


There’s a lot of truth in the statement “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Information that is conveyed visually is much easier for our brains to understand than text. In fact, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, & visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)

The mainstream adoption of Smartphones over the past 5 years has made communicating with visuals more accessible & commonplace. The average person now has the power to capture pictures & videos at any given time, and send them to contacts or post on the Internet. Texting conversations are no longer simply an exchange of words; they’re now injected with emojis to emphasize points or add meaning that can’t be conveyed with words. The way we communicate is changing because it’s easier  than ever for the everyday person to convey messages in visual format on a daily basis.

Instagram & Vine are popular apps that allow us to share photos and videos. And last Spring, Twitter & Facebook redesigned their platforms so that emojis, photos, and videos are displayed on the news feeds. It seems that visual communication is here to stay.

Brands, like TripAdvisor, are realizing the advantages of visual communication. This morning I received an email from them with two emojis in the subject line:


John Mayer has also been aware of our increasingly visual communication, and suggested that emojis be used in website URLs:

Tip, NYC tourism board, this site is available! Gonna get snatched up quick now that I’ve posted it.

Symbols  are becoming more widely used, as well. Some popular examples include slashes ( // ) arrows ( >> ) and ampersands ( & ). Bon Mei, a food truck in Boston, is an example of a brand that use symbols in their communications.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.39.30 PM

More people are catching the wave, and tools are being created to make visual communication more accessible. Here are three examples:

  1. Canva – a free web program that makes graphic design simple for everyone; it was used to make the first graphic in this post!
  2. PicLab HD – mobile app that allows you to edit photos by adding text, artwork, light leaks, textures, grains, photo filters, adjustments, and more.
  3. PopKey – a keyboard for iOS8 that allows you to send people GIFs, emoji-style, instead of just words.


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