Advertising has always relied heavily on imagery, and image efficacy has never been more crucial than it is now when consumers are being bombarded with products and services at every turn.
This provides the marketer with a plethora of opportunity to make a sale however, as consumers often make snap decisions based on instinct and intuition, advertising campaigns need to ensure they make a connection with their potential customer in an instant. Whether launched by an international giant or a small, niche boutique, the principles of a successful campaign remain the same.
Advertising enables us to remember and recognise brands whilst having a strong impact on our preferences. An effective advert can stay in our minds, draw us to a product and ultimately influence our decision on whether to purchase or not. The key to creating an effective advert is understanding that we make choices through our emotions, supplemented by our rationale.
So, how can brands increase their chances of getting it right and connecting with their potential customers and consumers on a regular and reliable basis?
Many brands use people to sell their products allowing us to connect with them on a personal level. This can be through packaging, POS, header boards or by using key visuals to enhance brand recognition.
Academic Research, that has been ecologically validated, has shown that the general public can reliably distinguish between real and fake emotional expressions.
• In a complex scene we automatically focus our attention on people if present to make a connection. Print magazines, online ads, department stores and online shopping sites can be extremely noisy assaulting our senses. Do such distractions have an impact on the customer’s decision to make a purchase?
• Websites displaying the highest level of social presence, (human figures and faces) without overcrowding, resulted in increased levels of trustworthiness and reliability, a positive aspect as trust in a brand leads to customer loyalty.
• Imagery creating a mutual gaze, producing feelings of friendliness and a good state of mind, are valuable for generating new product attention. Consumers are more willing to interact with products and most importantly BUY.
When it goes wrong with images:
• Averted gazes lead to feelings of ostracism and relational devaluation; the images need to be strategically and tactically planned by brands. Creating a sense of relatability is crucial in an advertising campaign; for example, with cosmetics you want to purchase the product, so you can resemble the relaxed and effortless individual in the advert; a steely gaze can be cold and off putting.
• Research on crowding levels in an advert has found that increased numbers of people present and visible can have a detrimental effect on levels of comfort. The environment you craft for your products and brand advertisement is paramount with this factor in mind.
• Bargain products, often the lowest quality and price brand, are selected the most when there is no one present to impress; this is great if you are in a price conscious marketing outlet and there are no images present BUT not so good if the you are the better quality and more expensive brand. It is important to look at how to target both audiences.
Using Key Visuals
Key visuals must clearly communicate the tone and emotions a brand seeks to provoke in the target audience. They should also convey the brand principles and be part of the brand story. Communicating in this way encourages the customer to relate to your brand and product.