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Images – The Visual Content of Champions!

Close up on blue eyes of a husky dog

Your marketing ads need to be competing on so many levels these days as more and more businesses are vying for attention. So what part do images play in marketing really? We know they are powerful, we know that consumers have short attention spans, sounds like the perfect focus, right?

If you look at the changes the social media godfathers have made over the last few years you’ll notice that images have played a big role in those developments giving much more focus to the visual message.

Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are largely now driven by images, video or both but only in the last few years. Newcomers Instagram and Pinterest have heralded the change and focus on image marketing since their arrival on the market. The normality of mobile phone photography has also made this infinitely accessible to all.

Even before the days of social media, hasn’t it always been like this?

Back in 1982, John R. Rossiter wrote a detailed paper; Visual imagery: Applications to Advertising which looked at the power of images in various forms of advertising, some of the key points were:


  1. Emotions drive the basic motivations that energize behaviour (Rossiter and Percy, in preparation)
  2. Pictures have a well-known superiority over words when it comes to learning
  3. Another reason why pictures may be superior to words in inducing evaluative responses is the visual channel’s superiority in accurately communicating emotions (Mehrabian, 1980)

There are three basic ways to take advantage of mental imagery:

(a) use high-imagery, most often highly concrete, stimuli;

(b) instruct the viewer, reader or listener to form images, i.e., to “imagine”

(c) target individuals in the audience who have differentially greater imagery ability. Of the three methods, use of high imagery stimuli is by far the most powerful.


Cite: John R. Rossiter (1982) ,”Visual Imagery: Applications to Advertising”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 09, eds. Andrew Mitchell, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 101-106.



Still holds true, I’d say that all applies to today’s marketing environment. Look at this Twitter ad above, would you say this may stir emotions, is that a Rugby ad or the NHS.. love the note to “keep on supporting” clever, emotional..

So how can you get it right with your image led email, social or web campaigns? Here are our thoughts:


  • You have a short time to engage your user, make the most of each opportunity when advertising, use high quality images that will appeal to your intended audience (as opposed to what only you like personally)
  • Include key information, not ALL information
  • Include a call to action (this might be a button, a number, an address, a link).
  • Depending on what you are promoting, images of people are very powerful, as we tend to identify, aspire to be like or empathise with other people.
  • When using images of people, consider culture, age, gender and the emotion you want that image to portray.

Sensationail - Little Gold Dress Colour promotion

  • If using images of places, and scanning the image libraries for just the look you want, ensure you know where it is (country) and if its appropriate for the message and audience.
  • Should you include product? Yes, if that’s what you want to promote, although consider; is your product interesting to look at, has nice packaging? If not then perhaps focus on the emotional response or aspirational approach.
  • Can’t decide which sort of image will work? Try and focus on what the key benefit of a person using your product and/or service may have. Abstract is ok as long as it makes sense in context.
  • Commission a photographer, original images are generally more relevant and can be more personal to your brand and your audience.
  • If in doubt about an image or if no high quality images are available, simplify the design and work with background colour and strong typography.
  • If you don’t have budget to pay for a designer, try a tool like Canva. This tool helps with the technical side of creating image led ads and promotional assets with a very simple to use drag and drop interface.
  • When adding typography to graphics, consider the readability of the font and colour (white text light images is not a good combo).
  • Choose typography carefully…think branding always.
  • If you have budget, we’d always recommend talking to a graphic designer and investing in a professional design.

Here are some old school ads that made us smile so we thought we’d share. Some are simply ironic, some insanely sexist and others just pure genius.


























how soon is too soon - cola ad


















this is a computer image