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Attracting Attention with Visual Imagery

Visual Imagery

Five strategies to trigger attention using imagery to use in conjunction with your visual communication goals.

Arouse pleasant emotions: Warm imagery that is emotionally relevant to the human experience is rewarding. Images of people in love, having fun, helping others, cute children and baby animals typically arouse pleasant emotions, which grab attention. Arouse unpleasant emotions: Imagery that elicits negative emotions is just as relevant to the human experience and our need for self-preservation will trigger attention in these images. Images of threatening objects, unnerving scenes, evil characters, death and people in despair will trigger attention because they evoke unsettling emotions. Create confusion: The unusual visual is challenging, requiring the viewer to decode it to understand it. Keep in mind that viewers will abandon a graphic if it takes an excessive amount of time to figure out. Images of unfamiliar objects or terrains, a mismatch of imagery or a unique perspective can grab attention if they confuse the viewer. Create surprise: People have their own inborn awareness of how things should proceed, what seems a logical cause and effect, and what belongs together and what does not. Imagery that goes against what is expected will create surprise. Images that are unexpected or have a visual or conceptual twist can elicit attention through surprise. Be provocative: Visual pieces that are unusually large, extremely close-up, or feature controversial people or extreme ideas, will captivate attention from the start. Whether provocative imagery evokes pleasant or unpleasant emotions often depends on the viewer and the subject, but it is bound to excite the viewer and grab attention. It’s not hard to imagine that something which appears unusual, unrecognizable or unexpected might be associated with a threatening condition in the primal recesses of the brain, while those experiences which promote well-being, would be perceived as rewarding. When all is said, and done – if your image grabs the attention of your viewer – the visual imagery component of your marketing or visual communication piece has done its job. This is when your intended message must take over, but that’s another story…

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