What Is Image Advertising? (With Effects, Benefits and FAQs)

Updated October 7, 2022

Companies often rely on advertisements to promote their products, but the influence on consumers typically relies on the imagery present in the advertisement. Using image advertising techniques often helps businesses ensure positive reactions from potential consumers. Professionals interested in promoting their brand presence may benefit from learning about this practice.

In this article, we discuss what image advertising is, how it works, the psychological effects of imagery in advertising, the benefits of using it and some answers to common FAQs about this technique.

What is image advertising?

Image advertising is the process of creating a positive association with a product or company to encourage consumers to buy products. Image advertisements don't always focus on advertising the actual product. Instead, they may promote ideas or concepts about a brand.

Some companies do this when they experience competition with other companies in a market. A business may design an image advertisement that highlights the values and interests of its target consumers. For example, they may promote a product while highlighting its reliability or affordability. Some companies even rely on concepts such as attractiveness.

These types of advertisement campaigns typically build a company's brand by creating familiarity for the consumers. Companies also create these campaigns so they're consistent with the specific messages they want to promote and the type of audience they want to attract.

They may run concurrent ad campaigns that maintain the desired imagery but highlight different features. For example, a car company may create a video advertisement that promotes the sleek design and speed of a car. They may also create a different video that highlights the comfortable interior and affordability of the car model.

Related: What Branding Is and Why It's Important

How does image advertising work?

Image advertising works by ensuring that consumers can conjure a specific mental image of a brand or product when they see an ad. These images also create a memorable distinction between a company's products and those of its competitors.

This often leads to customers choosing to buy from a recognizable brand instead of the competitors who don't use image advertising. Consumers often recognize and form opinions about products and companies that use image advertising even if they don't have complete knowledge about the specifications.

Related: How To Build Your Brand Identity in 5 Steps

Psychological effects of using imagery in advertising

Human brains tend to remember distinct images and create specific reactions or thoughts related to those images. This information typically creates psychological effects. If a person views an advertisement that appeals to them, they may remember it more than an advertisement that doesn't.

Memories of these images may allow the person to recognize similar images and advertisements more quickly. It may even inspire them to seek similar images in their own time. Companies use this knowledge to provide more and more information to consumers through the chosen imagery.

Companies may also benefit from the psychological effects of image advertising because the practice is often accessible to people with hearing or literacy issues. These people can also experience the psychological effects of imagery use because the images sometimes don't include many words. Advertisements in magazines and other static platforms also don't contain sound, so they create an equal experience for almost all people without sight issues.

Related: How To Create an Effective Brand Marketing Campaign

Key aspects of image advertising

The visual elements within image advertisements typically create the intended reaction from consumers. Here's a list of the different visual elements companies often employ and explanations for what they do:

  • Color: Different colors typically symbolize and enhance certain emotional responses from viewers, and they also attract the eyes. For example, people associate red with passion and blue with calmness or sadness.

  • Shape: Shapes also contribute to emotional responses and understanding because people from all different cultures, races, values and interests typically understand the meanings behind them. For example, some people may associate shapes with angular and diagonal edges with action and urgency.

  • Symbolism: Brands often create symbolism within their advertisements by combining shapes and colors that evoke certain emotions or knowledge. For example, viewers may view vague objects, such as a small pink rectangle and a large blue rectangle, as symbolic of a man and woman due to the common size and color associations with gender in society.

  • Composition: The composition, or placement, of objects on a page often contributes to viewers' reactions by emphasizing or minimizing the appearance of products. For example, an advertisement may use negative space to emphasize the size, shape, color or other features of the subject in the ad.

Benefits of using image advertising

One of the most common benefits of using imagery in advertising is creating a positive association with a brand and increasing brand familiarity. Here's a list of other benefits that companies and clients may enjoy while employing imagery in their advertising:

  • Increases the general reach of a product

  • Attracts customers from various demographics

  • Increases visual appreciation for the design in the ad

  • Increases engagement with the advertisement or the company

  • Generates discussion about the products

  • Promotes a specific lifestyle or trend

Related: 78 Tips To Make Your Digital Marketing More Effective

FAQs about image advertising

Here are some answers to common FAQs about using imagery in advertising:

1. What type of images can companies use in their advertisements?

Here's a list of the most common types of images companies typically use in image advertising:

  • Stock photos: Stock photos are professional images that typically feature general and understandable scenarios or subjects. Some websites offer royalty-free or public domain images, while others may charge fees for using specific images.

  • Branded graphics: Some companies use illustrations or designs that don't contain photography but still add value to the ad. For example, a company may pay a designer to create an image of their logo with specific shapes to enhance an image.

  • Infographics: Infographics involve both words, shapes and images in an informational guide that often provides visual data representations. Some companies use these to make complex information more accessible to readers of different demographics.

  • Graphics Interchange Format (GIFs): GIFs are looping images that typically feature snippets of a cartoon, news broadcast or television show. Companies may use the movement in these images in online advertisements to attract readers.

Related: Types of Advertisements and What Makes Them Successful

2. Do image advertisements work on different platforms?

Image advertisements work on almost every platform and media channel that people frequently use. Some common outlets that host image advertisements include magazines, newspapers, television commercials and mobile platforms.

Social media advertisements have increased in popularity as the number of users on each application increases. Social media advertisements also offer different formats for various pages or types of content. For example, users may see pop-up notifications, banner ads, video ads and inline ads on articles or stories.

3. What are some examples of types of image advertising?

Here's a list of some image advertisement types you may see:

  • Contextual ads: These ads feature images that directly relate to the platform in which the user views. For example, a shoe company may post an image advertisement on a clothing website.

  • Remarketing ads: Remarketing is a feature in which companies or websites track a user's online activity and serve them ads based on previously visited websites or search pages.

  • Product ads: Product ads emphasize a specific product to increase brand awareness and familiarity. An image ad for a smartphone may emphasize multiple features of the product to entice viewers to learn more about it.

  • Corporate image ads: Corporate image ads focus more on showcasing a company itself instead of its products.

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