“I tell you and you forget. I show you and you remember.” ~ Confucius

Throughout history, images have been central to man’s development, as can be understood through cave paintings, for example. As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” While this may seem cliché today, Confucius knew it thousands of years ago and it still holds true, perhaps now more than ever before.

In today’s Information Age, modern computers and the Internet have transformed the ways we think and communicate. On the downside, information overload can occur when the brain is bombarded with more information than it can process. This can be counterbalanced if more information is communicated visually, leading to greater understanding and longer retention.

Humans Are Visual Creatures

Brain research related to the physiology of sight and the ways in which we process information show compelling arguments in support of using images as a part of your marketing communications strategy.

Visual content naturally lends itself to the predispositions of the human mind, hardwired to analyze images first. Media theorist John Berger writes in his book Ways of Seeing, “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak” and well before it can read.

The rate in which the human retina transmits data to the brain is about 10 million bits per second (Penn Medicine). Eighty to 90 percent of the information received by the brain comes through the eyes (Thinking Foundation). Visual content capitalizes on how our brains most effectively capture information.

Our brains are capable of absorbing 36,000 images every minute, enabling audiences to absorb messages much more quickly in the form of an infographic or video versus a text heavy document such as a white paper. Because half of the brain is dedicated to visual function (MIT), smart marketers can take advantage of the science behind the human body in order to deliver their messages more successfully.

Most People are Visual Learners

Being that approximately 60 percent of people think through visual processing, it only makes sense to cater to this large population by presenting them with highly visual content.

Some of the learning benefits associated with visual content include:

  • Improved comprehension of ideas, concepts and information
  • Enhanced ability to think critically
  • Improved retention and recall of information

Organizations spend a great deal of resources on the development of clear, concise text as a means to market to target audiences, however most people only remember about 30 percent of what they read (New York University). Ensuring that the text is accompanied by comprehensive visualizations is the key to information retention, resulting in a higher return on your content marketing investment.

Seven Types of Visual Content

  1. Photography
  2. Video
  3. Screenshots
  4. Infographics
  5. Charts/Graphs
  6. Comics/Animations
  7. Memes

Visual content can be used in your brand’s social media marketing campaigns, presentations, annual reports, white papers, blogs, newsletters, internal communications, videos and website as a means of presenting complex information in an easily digestible way to multiple audiences, including: customers, prospects, employees, shareholders and the media. Incorporating visual content into a brand’s overall marketing strategy is quickly shifting from a recommended practice to a critical factor in remaining relevant to target audiences.

This article originally appeared on CCO and has been republished with permission.