Putting on Your Visual Thinking Cap

Here are a few questions I’ve been asked by clients recently:

  • How can we present this data visually?
  • Any ideas on how we can showcase our successes visually?
  • What kind of visual marketing collateral can we handout at this event?

I’d be willing to bet you’ve recently asked or received similar questions too. Attention spans are shrinking, there’s more content available than ever, and — as we’ve seen with the enormous success of sites like Pinterest, Instagram and BuzzFeed — imagery is king. I recently attended the Chicago Integrated Communications Forum (sponsored by PR Newswire and the Business Development Institute), where Suzanne Fanning of WOMMA said that 2012 is the year of visual influencers. We agree.

But visual marketing can be tough for folks who have traditionally been “words people” like me. We’re the ones who have to stop ourselves from squeezing in text on PowerPoint slides already full of prose. The ones who often struggle with the 140 character limit on Twitter. The ones who geek out over a 5,000 word article in The New Yorker.  At Bliss Integrated Communication, we’re lucky to have a shop full of creative thinkers, several of whom are also truly visual thinkers. But how can the rest of us get there?

Tap Additional Resources – Even if you have a visual thinker on your team, the best ideas often come from outsiders who aren’t in the loop on all of the back story and restrictions. Group brainstorms are a great way to bring out creative visual ideas.

Look Outside – When our team is planning for an infographic or new piece of marketing collateral, we often look at examples from other companies and blogs for inspiration and ideas we can build from. A couple of our favorites are Visual.ly and Eloqua, and we also draw inspiration from visual thinkers like Dave Gray and Mark Smiciklas.

Film it – We all know the search benefits of video, and the great news is that it’s a very accessible platform for those of us who think in words. With a (written!) script to guide the content, you can pepper in speakers, animations and images to make your information more dynamic and engaging.

Think Structurally – Sometimes structure and creativity are opposing ideas, but this one really works for me. If you have data, start with how you could present it in a chart or graph. Once you have that structure, how can you make it more exciting? Could you have a bar graph comparing 95% to 75%? Sure. But could you also have 95 stick people or 75 thingamajigs? Are you walking your audience through a methodology or strategy? Put your process in a pyramid, a list, an “if this, then that” structure, or whatever make sense for your message. Then bring it to life. One of my favorite examples where we can see this happening is the content marketing machine.

The competition for eyeballs is intense, so we’re constantly thinking of how we can better tell our clients’ stories to capture the attention of their audience. For us, the key has been a continual flow of creative ideas and a willingness to experiment beyond traditional comfort zones.

What’s the best visual idea you’ve had in 2012?

To connect with Keri:

Phone:  212.584.5471
Email: keri@blissintegrated.com
Twitter: @keritoomey