A picture is worth a thousand photographs

I was fortunate to find myself in Paris last week for some marketing meetings for my day job. After a full-day meeting at my hotel in the world's most drab conference room, I had a luncheon appointment the next day across from the Lourve. This is one of the most spectacular museums in the world.  After the lunch meeting concluded, I paid my 12 euros and got to wander around the galleries for several hours in the late afternoon and early evening. Being a former art history student and commercial photographer, this was a real treat to have a time to wander alone among this great art collection. 

Every where you go in this museum, there are signs pointing toward one thing  - Leonardo‚Äôs masterpiece of La Giaconda or as everyone knows her, the Mona Lisa. It is as if all roads lead to Mona and nothing else. 

What struck me was that no one was looking at the painting. No one. 

The circus was solely focused on capturing a photo or selfie with the fourteenth century mysterious woman in the picture. I remember in graduate school hearing about a research project where the time spent viewing the signs or descriptions of paintings in museums was about 80% and the time looking at the actual painting was 20%.

Everyone wanted to be told what to think or felt that capturing the image of the iconic work was the experience not actually viewing the work.

For me, I knew what to expect having been there several times. I spent my time closely looking at sculpture and art I could get close to a view in quiet and privately. I wanted to explore the stunning lighting of the lines of the human form from 15th century Italy.  The Egyptian section is where I spent the most time looking very closely at color, line and texture in the small animal sculpture and the remarkable hieroglyphics.

Yes, I spent some of my time taking photographs, but mostly I used my eyes to see. I got close and tried to understand what the images depicted. The light, color and line all grabbed me and pulled me into these little time machines. 

Of course I walked away thinking about art but the marketing lesson was also so very clear. People learn by being told what they see and showing them pictures of what they saw. This is why stores tell you what you are experiencing or brands explain what the products can mean to you. What Rod Stewart sang was right, every picture tells a story. So should your brand. Most of these great works of art at the Lourve were predigested for the public so they could understand what they saw. What does this picture mean? Pictures trump words. Stories trump pictures. 

Marketing is an art form too and your brand's story will paint a picture. What is the picture you want your consumers to see in their mind about your brand?


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