‘A picture tells a thousand words’ – a phrase that is arguably more important than ever before. It is perhaps why Mark Zuckerberg bought Instagram, and why Facebook and Twitter continue to give greater emphasis to both still and moving imagery within our feeds with each new iteration of their platforms.

The new wave of twenty-something (and younger) consumers don’t just expect good design, they demand it. Having grown up with iPods and iPads, they have the tools and ability to create great design for themselves, and so can’t forgive poor design when it comes from brands.

Yet the poor visual experience many brands deliver, particularly when it comes to mobile and social media, is astounding. Perhaps ten years ago, a poor visual experience online could have been forgiven. Images took time and money and this was still the ‘testing era’ for the platforms.

But today, brands which neglect to put the necessary resources into making their digital experiences look great, especially when pouring money into high-value TV production, act counter-intuitively. According to IBM, in the US alone, $83 billion is lost each year as a result of poor customer experiences.

What’s more, good design online can enhance a brand’s search rankings. With a greater and greater proportion of that experience happening on mobile, it is time to re-prioritise.

Instagram is doing what it can to raise the bar – their move to allow brands to advertise has been done so with extremely stringent guidelines as to the quality of the imagery they will allow. Beyond Instagram it is up to brands to take matters into their own hands.

The first task is to prioritise. There is no doubt that the digital world has driven a focus on content creation delivered through many different channels. But if you can’t afford to do it well, don’t do it at all.

The second task is to invest in working with the right partners. A combination of focus on form and function is critical to success – beautiful images are not worth having if they don’t work well. Likewise, make sure you are working with the right SEO experts – again beautiful images are pointless if no-one can find them!

Finally, if you are going to invest anywhere, invest in video. Video is the most engaging and entertaining form of content. On social media it also has a longer shelf-life than the likes of a simple tweet or facebook post. Whether on talent, partnerships, or simply content creation, video is something we’ll see more and more of in the months and years to come. If a picture says a thousand words, then video says tens of thousands.


By Nina Rahmatallah, Director at Added Value.

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