Ever do this marketing activity before?
You assign everyone in your sales and marketing organization
to bring one picture to your strategy planning meeting. The image can be a
photograph or an illustration. The image
should depict the core aspect of your brand. Another way of saying this is If
you cut open your brand, what would it look like inside? Is your brand like the sunset set in Hawaii (calming and refreshing) or is it quirky and off-beat like Frank Zappa?
Everyone gives the images to the facilitator who posts them
like wall paper for all to see. Then each participant gets a Post It Note and
has to stick it on the image that best represents the brand. It is an
interesting exercise and one that often helps inspire productive team
discussions about what your brand represents and how important the visual is
compared to the text.
Imagine if you did this same exercise and asked everyone to
bring something in writing that explains the brand essence? Words suck at this task. Pictures are more powerful
ways to communicate experiences and to support branding.
With inflation, a
picture is now worth 10,032 words
We are visual animals who receive marketing messages and
communications through pictures. Words are infrequently read particularly in
ads and especially when the consumer’s radar is on full alert. But pictures
sneak through our alarm system and can help flesh out the brand and begin to
tell a story.
When words are in direct contradiction to pictures, the
picture wins. Laura Ries is a brilliant marketing consultant who wrote an
article recently in the American Marketing Associations Summer 2012 MARKETINGMANAGEMENT issue. She used this
fascinating image that illustrates this contradiction. When you see the image below you assume someone put the wrong words on the photo. But as Laura explains in her article,
"Most people would not consider the opposite: That someone put the wrong picture on the capture. The visual always dominates the verbal."
|All rights reserved - Copyright Laura Ries|
Published in Marketing Management Magazine Summer 2012 issue
Please read the full article to learn more about this
phenomenon and some of her very interesting ideas on this subject of the
primacy of the visual. You have to join AMA to read the article online.
Back to my off-site strategy activity; the successful
picture that gets the most votes in this exercise is usually a crisp and clear
depiction of the benefit that a consumer derives from the brand
experience. It could be safety, comfort
or value and the ad might not even mention any features. The best examples do not show the product but the feelings that are evoked by using the product.
Power in Pictures:
What this exercise shows is how powerful the image is and
versus the printed word. As you start to see through this lens it means you are
starting to see how your customer or a consumer sees your product or service.
What companies sell is not necessarily what customers buy. I
may sell a physical product (shoes, computers or brownies) but what the
customer perceives is an important benefit that they get from use of your
I may sell a remarkable hammers or screw drivers but what
the customer see is the possibility of being a craftsman like his grandfather.
|Selling connections not hammers|
I may sell software to help you write a book but what the customer
is buying is a megaphone to tell their life story as a record for his community.
|You aren't selling software. You are selling an opportunity to share stories |
I may sell camping gear made of recycled materials but what
the customer is buying is a chance to be at one with nature.
|Through the gear I get harmony with nature|
I may sell pesticides that keep bugs away from lawns so they can be plush and green, but what consumers buy is the play space for their family to roll around.
What job does your product or brands do for your customers? How successful are
you at helping them see the solution to your needs?
|I sell lawn pesticides but my customers want a place to play|
Close your eyes and tell me what image you say when the
following brands are mentioned like Sears, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Tom’s Shoes, Outback, Dell, Amazon, Urgent Care,
Zappos, Walgreens and Gap, M&M’s, Corona and Ben & Jerry’s. (or anyone that comes to mind)
Great brands with real power have to solve problems. The
clearer that picture is in your mind is the goal for the brand team at each
business. As Laura Ries points out in this article, owning a visual image is
perhaps even more important than owning a word in the consumer’s mind.
What single image represents the core of your brand?
Labels: AMA, Laura Ries, Marketing Management, Power of Pictures