19th June 2012, by Francesca Caruana
The observation that a picture is worth a thousand words may hold a considerable amount of truth, particularly when it comes to the world of modern advertising. However, that’s not to say this adage doesn’t have its limitations. We may live in an age of graphics, logos and visual impact, but can we be certain the right message is getting across to secure the sale?
Advertising’s ‘golden era’ in the ‘40s and ‘50s saw consumers bombarded with text-heavy adverts not dissimilar to modern-day advertising briefs. This style stemmed from the idea that the more information you gave a consumer about your product, the more they would be inclined to buy it. In comparison, today’s world of information at our fingertips and instant access to detail and specification means companies are using advertising primarily as a tool for gaining attention and awareness, rather than securing a sale.
Businesses know that consumers are well versed in comparison websites and search through a number of blogs and reviews before purchasing a product. While the idea of putting a thousand (or, more realistically, two hundred) words on a page to sell an item has fallen out of fashion, you can be sure that most consumers will probably read through around a thousand words of text before taking the decision to part with their money.
Chances are, an image-only ad will not persuade a consumer to buy something; it will simply expose them to a product and hopefully sustain their interest or stay in their memory long enough for them to look it up online when they get a chance. In many ways, images in advertising are like headlines that drive the reader to the next sentence of the article. For advertising, this second line of information can be in the form of email, social media, telephone, website, or in a store; but ultimately the consumer needs to be compelled to take that step.
This debate also comes down to a matter of cost. With media space selling at a premium, images can be an effective and compact way for consumers to absorb large amounts of data almost instantly. Nevertheless, relevance is still key. A visual can be clear and definite in its message but so generic that it loses significance or - even worse - fails to generate interest. It may also be so detached and abstract that it creates alienation. It’s true that every picture tells a story; the problem is that a picture can create different stories for different people. There is a chance the intended message behind an ad image will not be understood, or may even unintentionally cause offense or upset.
Powerful messages compel, whether that message takes the form of text or a visual medium, and advertising is either effective or ineffective whatever format it’s in. Ultimately, companies are concerned with making a sale, which is why words and images need to be carefully crafted in unison, and need to work together to form an effective, compelling message. Advertising may have changed over the years, but the desired result has definitely stayed the same.
Last week saw the keen bakers of WAA battle it out in a tense Valentine’s Day baking challenge - all in the name of love.
This month, WAA was in attendance at the 2012 trendwatching.com London trend seminar. The event, which attracts hundreds of industry professionals every year, aimed to showcase the latest trends from around the globe.