Prioritizing Verbal, Auditory and Visual Branding - Part 3

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Posted Jun 27, 2012
Susan Gunelius

There is no doubt that verbal, auditory, and visual branding are all important to a successful brand strategy and marketing campaigns. However, images without context can be meaningless. That means you need to find the best way to marry all three elements to achieve the results you want and need for your brand. How do you do it?

verbal auditory visual branding

The Cumulative Effect of Message, Image, and Sound

Marketing messages delivered only by sound can work. Radio proves that. Marketing messages delivered by verbal only can work. Printed articles prove that. However, few marketing messages delivered visually with no verbal accompaniment can work. That's because images alone and without context are rarely interpreted completely accurately.

As Jack Trout explains, "If you looked just at the pictures in almost any magazine or newspaper, you would learn very little. If you read just the words, however, you would have a pretty good idea." In branding, Trout says, "Verbal should be the driver, while pictures reinforce the words." He also warns against using images in advertising that stop people but act as nothing more than a distraction otherwise. "The 'distraction factor' explains why so many commercials tend to be misidentified by the public."

In other words, ads that are most successful focus on the cumulative effect that the right verbal message, combined with a relevant image that's quick to explain, and effective audio can create.

Below are ads from a single campaign that offer a great example of images that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The company logo has been blurred. Can you identify the company? Can you identify what product is being sold in each ad?

visual branding ads

Did you guess the company or the products being sold?

Here's a hint -- it's not a fashion brand.Check out the ads below with the copy enlarged.

visual branding ads with copy

Did you guess that the company behind these ads was a pharmacy?It's true. These ads are from NK Pharmacy in Sweden and advertise painkillers, backache support bandages, blister medications, and cold sore medications.Spend some time flipping through the ads in a magazine and try to interpret those images without the accompanying copy. How many did you interpret as the advertiser wants? Be honest. It's likely to be a smaller number than you expected.

Market Research for Verbal, Auditory, and Visual Branding

Identifying the best verbal, auditory, and visual branding elements for your advertising and marketing campaigns should be a top priority. Market research plays an important role in developing the right verbal messages and choosing the right types of imagery and auditory styles to attract your target audience.

One of the first research steps involves gathering information about your target audience's reactions to a variety of messages and images. Using personification and metaphors to represent your brand can help narrow down the right voice, style, and tone for your ads and campaigns.

At the same time, identifying the verbal, auditory, and visual branding elements that your target audience doesn't like can help, too. All of this research data helps you learn more about your customers and create the right brand persona to increase the chances that the audience will want to hear about your brand and buy it.

Message and ad concept testing are a critical component of your market research plan. Remember, visuals alone are often misinterpreted and verbal messages alone are weaker without visual cues. Therefore, conduct research to create a core list of messages and images, and then create concept ads or marketing materials for your campaign. Present those concepts to your target audience in another wave of research to nail down the one that will be the most effective.

You might even learn that the messages and visuals identified in your first wave of research aren't the right ones based on audience reactions to the concept ads and materials. That's not uncommon. While it might mean you have to go back to the drawing board, you can feel confident that in the end, you'll create a more successful ad or campaign.

If you missed previous parts of the Prioritizing Verbal, Auditory, and Visual Branding series, follow the links below to read them now:

Images: Nick Benjaminsz, Ads of the World

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