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Visual communication is nothing new. Since the Stone Age man has carved walls, built monuments, structures, architecture and now web sites, APPs and thought leadership blogs. Each of them have their own innate purposes but none without the common motive to influence.

Thought-leadership BEST2.jpgWe have been bombarded with Commercials, TV, movies and images to the point of which we no longer recognize or notice them but for nothing more than a piece of entertainment. These are all visual mediums and we have forgot or almost have become desensitized to the fact that visuals have always been and are still a modern day and major influencer to our daily lives.  We watch and see without much thought. Yet we are influenced. We are influenced by what we see. Why? Here’s the scientific answer, because seeing is a direct cognitive stimulation of our cerebral cortex of the brain that instantly derives or invokes emotion.

For most of us, visuals as a form of communication were the farthest thing from our minds. It was an intangible influencer left to the pros, an elite few or group that we called the media and we were left unaware.  Unaware of its power but more important than its power we were left unaware of its literacy.

But now, there is a new awareness. Times have changed. The rules have changed. We are now the media, and as the media we are now responsible for understanding and with this responsibility, an awareness of value and importance of visuals as a form of communication. But it’s not enough to just be aware or to be aware of its value. We have to have value for it. Know its value. But the only way we can do that is by understanding its literacy. Its grammar, and with understanding comes respect and with respect of course comes value.

Colors, shapes, lines and textures, images, all have a say in the message within the things that we create. Imagine if the color of SAP.com were pink. What message, mood or emotion would that convey? What if your website was predominantly built using circles instead of boxes and squares? Would you wear sandals, shorts and a t-shirt to a job interview? Why not? When you go shopping, do you do it with a list of items? Or do you stroll and look, See? “Visual language is in all the things that we make.” 1 Every day we write an email or text. We are the new generation of creators. The logo for your start up. The proposal for your research. Your keynote presentation to your organization or boss. Your blog.

“Visual literacy is something that should not just be ingrained in our head but in our culture.” 1 If we want to get our ideas into other people’s brains, we need to have an understanding and competency of visual grammar as a form of literacy. A literacy that is not only efficient but also effective. The literacy of visual communication. The literacy of design.

It’s not just going to help you with your children’s album cover art, or your invitation to the next PTA meeting or party. “It is going to help the engineer present his projects life saving data to the stakeholders of his next big project.” 1 It’s going to help the Service Executive presenting his new innovative idea to use the next big thing in content curation to his team and CEO. The entrepreneur raising capital for the next big world changer.

You can have brilliant ideas but if you can’t get those ideas across they don’t mean anything.

“If you want to get your idea into other people’s brains, it’s going to really have to connect with them.” 1

Here are 5 ways you can assert your visual awareness and literacy into your next project.

1. Typography has to be appropriate for the content or the context.

2. Make a connection with your audience around your brand.

3. Use visuals to enforce your ideas and thoughts.

4. Your content should stand out. Resonate. Effect and evoke.

5. Conjure thought and emotion from your audience.   Excite and engage and ultimately act.

1- The New Literacy of Design: David Kadavy at TEDxDePaul

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