WPP’s research reveals how brands can use visual cues more effectively

If you look closely at a smartphone screen, the icons are rarely seen in the real world.

An SLR camera represents digital photography, and time is an analogue clock. An envelope represents email, and the phone is a traditional handset.

Visual language has an unrivalled ability to delight and entertain. It’s one of the easiest and effective ways a brand can win over consumers.

The latest series from WPP, The Secrets & Lies of Languages: The New Rules of the Game, explores the new rules of language and how crucial it is for brands to understand the importance of visual language.

Brand and design agency Landor and Fitch’s, general manager, Trish Folen

According to research conducted by WPP and YouGov, “90% of Australians say they are more likely to purchase from companies or brands that use visual language.”

A staggering “84% of Australians agree that pictures and icons are more powerful than words,” the report read.

This kind of simple communication creates authenticity and honesty for brands.

“The saying a picture is worth a thousand words is really true,” said brand and design agency Landor and Fitch’s, general manager, Trish Folen at the reports launch in Sydney. “A big part of my job is to create visual images for clients. If I’m doing my job correctly, you should understand what we’re trying to convey and why in the snap of a finger just by the visual language.”

“Lots of great emerging brands are really breaking some category conventions that should be broken. One that springs to mind is Casper, the mattress company. They’re selling a mattress online to you in a box, but their visual language is beautiful. They have hand-drawn illustrations,” Folen added.

Because a visual language is consistent, it makes it easier for an audience to identify a company’s content and products when they see it.

Therefore, it assists a company to strengthen its brand identity. That means all content will bring the same style, express the same values and associate them with that particular brand.

WPP’s chief strategy officer, Rose Herceg

The power of visual language is still surprisingly untapped by banks, FMCG, utilities and especially the government sector. Replacing words with icons and other visuals is an opportunity in 2021.

WPP’s chief strategy officer, Rose Herceg, said: “The public sector should be taking charge, and it’s often the private sector giving them the ideas to move forward when it comes to visual language.

“Often we go to government when we need them the most and people are at their most vulnerable. So if that’s the case, how can they set the gold standard and lead the charge and have private industries start stealing from them.”


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