How To Use Visual Communication in 6 Steps (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 9, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organizations may use a variety of communication strategies to connect with their audiences and relay information to prospective customers or partners. Visual communication can be an effective way to succinctly and effectively convey a message to a wide variety of people. Understanding what this communication approach is and the benefits of using it can help companies implement visual techniques in their branding and advertising campaigns or internal employee messaging strategies. In this article, we review what visual communication is, highlight why it's important, list types of visual communication, discuss how to use them and provide helpful tips.

Related: Communication Goal Examples for Executive Business Communication

What is visual communication?

Visual communication is the act of using visual resources, such as images, videos and graphs, to convey information or an idea. Depending on the format, elements of visual communication strategies can include illustration, iconography, data visualization, animation and interactivity. The right type of visual communication for a brand or company may depend on its target audience and on the organization's goals. It can also depend on the modes of visual communication that consumers frequently use and interact with, such as social media platforms, online forums or company websites.

Related: What Is Data Visualization: Definition, Types and Tools

Why is visual communication important?

Visual communication is important because it can be an impactful way for an organization to communicate meaning and information related to a brand, product or service. Businesses may also use visual aids when presenting information to their employees. Some reasons that visual communication may be an important tool or a company include:

  • Sharing information efficiently: Using visual aids and visual communication tools can help organizations share an idea faster than an audio clip or written advertisement, potentially allowing them to save time and resources. Images and video may be able to capture an audience's attention and keep them engaged better than text-heavy content.

  • Offering a consistent brand experience: Visual communication allows audience members to have a consistent brand experience as they view or watch the information you present to them, which may include various colors, logos or other marketing components. This can encourage them to associate various words or pictures with the company you represent.

  • Increasing information retention rates: While written content can be informative, visual content may help your audience remember the information you present. Retention can be crucial to making a lasting impression on your audience, whether you're conveying a message to consumers or to internal members of your organization.

  • Delivering a clear message: If an organization's marketing content contains a substantial amount of text, its message and purpose may be difficult for readers to understand, so using visual aids and graphics can ensure that it delivers a clear and consistent message. Alternatively, they may use videos or animations to explain information to an employee team.

Related: Steps and Components of the Communication Process

Types of visual communication

There are several visual communication tools companies can use to convey messages and information to a variety of audiences. An organization may use them to convey data and information, describe the features of a product and keep employees informed about changes within the company. Common tools professionals can use for visual communication include infographics, pie charts and animated GIFs. Some other types of visual communication include:

  • Screenshots

  • Slide-deck presentations

  • Mind maps

  • Visual reports

  • Social media posts

  • Screen recordings

  • Tables and graphs

  • Whiteboard animations

  • Face-to-face camera video recordings

How to use visual communication

Follow these steps to effectively use visual communication strategies for a variety of internal and external business activities:

1. Identify the goal of your communication

Depending on whether you create a visual aid to convey a message to internal members of an organization or communicate and interact with consumers, the goal of your content may vary. You can begin to create an image, video or infographic by determining the purpose of sharing information with a particular audience, and clearly defining the information you plan to convey. This can help you and your team understand why you're using a visual communication strategy. Some communication goals may include:

  • Making comparisons: A company may use a visual communication strategy to make a comparison between two data sets, products or systems. Professionals can use visual tools such as graphs, tables, pie charts and photographs to convey the similarities or differences between two things, or show how they are two parts of a greater whole.

  • **Indicating changes:** Organizations can use visual aids to indicate changes over a period of time or within a geographic location. For example, a company can highlight sales trends amongst consumers over a six month period to help employees understand the most the time periods that yielded the highest revenue and profits.

  • ****Conveying information:**** If you have a data value or piece of information that others can understand without extensive context and explanation, you can use a visual aid to present this to other members of your team or to prospective consumers. This can help communicate important details or facts without requiring viewers to spend additional time reading.

  • ****Organizing:**** Visual communication tools can be a great way for professionals to illustrate patterns, groups or rank within a data set and make this information easy for a variety of audiences to understand. For example, if consumers preferred a particular feature four years in a row, an organization can use a visual tool to present this feedback to product designers.

  • ****Demonstrating relationships:**** Companies can also use visual communication strategies to convey and demonstrate correlations between variables. This can allow professionals to provide information to internal members of the organization or show consumers the impact of a company's products and services by highlighting the relationship between data values.

2. Develop a consistent visual brand

For external communication, it's important to develop a consistent and recognizable brand and ensure that any visual content you and your team members develop aligns with overall brand imagery. This can ensure that all aspects of your consumer-facing marketing campaign, such as social media posts, flyers and email newsletters, cohesively align with the company's image. This may include using the same color scheme, uniform headers and footings and integrating the organization's logo across all documents or using the same symbols and icons throughout the visual content.

3. Capture images and messages that inspire you

One simple way to begin to use visual communication strategies is to take screenshots or screen recordings of images and messages that your team or target audience may find inspirational. This allows you to share content efficiently and communicate a message without requiring original content or branding. You can send a screenshot to internal members of your organization, to motivate them through the workweek, or help them understand an upcoming branding concept. You can add screenshots to a variety of other content, including presentations and corporate emails.

4. Translate your notes into visual content

Once you've explored using visual communication tools that don't require you to create your own content, you can translate your notes and turn them into visual tools such as images and videos. You may have written information related to the company's sales performance, brand strategies or onboarding procedures, and you can transform this into visual content that is easy for your audience to understand and remember. You can also use your notes to create a video script and create a recording that others can watch to learn about the information you're presenting.

5. Use visuals to provide your team with feedback

After creating visual content using your own notes, you can utilize these tools to communicate messages from other individuals as well, such as shareholders and executives. For example, if you receive feedback from stakeholders regarding the progress of a project or their suggestions for upcoming changes, consider turning this information into a visual presentation or graphic that all project team members can access and understand. This can help you save time speaking with or emailing everyone individually and ensure that everyone has the information they require to move on to the next stage of the project.

6. Update your marketing content

You can also use a variety of visual communication strategies to update marketing content, including adding videos or face-to-face camera recorded interviews to email newsletters or using infographics in social media posts. Audience members may be more likely to share information they can easily understand, so using visual components in addition to or instead of written information may help your content receive more views. Consumers may find visual communication strategies more engaging than other approaches. It can also help them clearly understand valuable data or product features, all of which may motivate them to make a purchase.

Related: 7 C's of Effective Communication in the Workplace

Tips for using visual communication

Consider following these tips for using visual communication strategies:

Consider using stylized icons to make complex information easy to understand

If you're presenting your audience with technical information that may be complex or contains several intricate details, you can use stylized icons to make the material more accessible. This can help capture viewers' attention and invite them to engage with complex topics, allowing them to use the visual aid you provide to simplify the information.

Consider using a clear and modern design style to divide a complicated or technical process into several legible and easy to follow steps. This may allow your audience to understand the information, and motivate them to follow the instructions or engage with the material you provide.

Use visual content as a reference guide

You can use visual content, such as a presentation slide deck, as a reference guide following an important meeting. This allows employees to review the materials and have a straight-forward way to access all the information discussed in the meeting without the risk of becoming confused by their colleagues' explanations or note-taking style.

A slide deck can also reinforce the most important aspects of the material and help professionals identify the most valuable information from the presentation. This can be useful if the meeting relates to internal changes regarding company policies or procedures because it allows professionals to reference the information and understand the upcoming corporate changes.

Remove as much text as you can

When creating a visual communication tool, consider removing as much text as possible and simplifying the language you use to ensure that the information is accessible and readers can understand it quickly. One of the primary advantages of visual communication strategies is the ability to convey a significant amount of information in a short period, so it's important that viewers can view and efficiently comprehend the information you present.

Rather than using text to indicate groups or datasets, you can use shapes such as ovals and rectangles, and you may use arrows or dotted lines to symbolize movement or progress. Consider highlighting key information using specific colors that capture the viewers' attention and help them remember the material.

Use the data to tell a story

If you're developing visual tools to communicate with clients and advertise your brand, consider using the data and information you have to tell a story and connect with your audience. Reflect on what interests your target audience and what information is relevant to their lives.

You can then review the amount of knowledge they may have on the subject you're discussing and consider the amount of context they may require you to provide. Once you review these details, you can identify the key data points or information to feature in your visual content and craft a narrative that relates to your consumers' interests and reinforces important details in a clear and cohesive way.

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