Have you ever heard of the picture superiority effect? It refers to the phenomenon in which pictures are more likely to be remembered than words.

Here’s all the research that’s been done on it.

One of the reasons Union is so passionate about illustration is that we know how important images are for content creators.

Magazines use illustration to help focus in on ideas and grab a reader’s attention. It helps create a visual metaphor, so people will remember what they learned.

You know who else understands this? Big brands like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Companies that are putting visual content front and center. LinkedIn is doing it as well, so if you’re posting articles here, then you need to be adding images.

“I am,” you say. “Just look at all the wonderful stock imagery I use.”

I can’t tell you how many times this guy shows up in my LinkedIn feed. Typically from smaller firms trying to save money on their content. “This sexless, white, generic ‘toy’ is an example of how we, a generic and uninteresting company, don’t know who we’re talking to or why. Look the character represents everybody who we don’t want to offend.” (Except of course non-white people). It makes me wonder, do they even care if people read what they have to say?

Try this experiment. Pop that guy in Google reverse image search and look how many times he shows up. That’s not a trend. It’s a scary example of how lazy we are when we go looking for images to highlight our content.

Or this image.

This meeting is so Boring Like your Culture

“Look at our company culture,” says the content creator who doesn’t believe a word of it,  “It’s so amazing that we used models and a different companies board room to show what a great team we are. I wish our team was really like this.”

Stop striving to be like everybody else? Don’t you have something unique to offer?

Every time you post a stock photo you lose a number of potential readers – because all these images look the same. In fact, they are explicitly designed to be as generic as possible so the stock company can sell them to more and more people. They’ve trained you to go for the most popular images so you don’t need to think too hard about how successful it is.

I realize that for a bootstrapped company or one with a limited marketing budget you’re probably going to need stock photos as an option. But let me ask you something – If your company made this t-shirt would you wear it?

Would you wear this Shirt?

Not if you want to pick someone up on a Friday night. Right?

If it’s so obvious that these images don’t stand out, don’t fit your personal brand, are generally considered pretty lame, why are you using them as part of your business content?

Put up something that will get your audience’s attention. Even better, use an image that is on brand and will cause them to think about what you have to say. Or use illustrations to show your unique brand voice and do a series that your audience will look forward to.

There are over 50 ways you can use illustration to highlight your content and products from science to fashion, editorial to video, entertainment and more.

I can provide a complete list if you ask for it.

If you’ve been thinking about how to give your articles a visual facelift, and you really want to stand out from the crowd, feel free to give us a call. We would love to chat with you and figure out a custom solution that fits your brand and your content.

PS. I’ll leave you with one more thing to Consider:

Nobody Notices when you Fart in a Sulphur Mine

Author Michael Grills

Michael Grills is an Illustrator, Artist and Designer working internationally at Union Illustration Co. from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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