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5 visual marketing statistics every marketer should know

by Kate Lindemann  |  June 2, 2021

6 min. read
Stylized number typography in a magazine ad.

Nothing makes a point better than a good, solid statistic, whether you’re looking for data-backed insights to inform strategy decisions, or just need some numbers to cite in an upcoming meeting.

But some visual marketing statistics are more useful than others.

It’s easy to collect data by polling marketers, so a lot of stats about visual marketing are about what other marketing teams are doing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to keep on top of marketing trends, but statistics showing how to make visuals more effective are even more convincing.

With that in mind, I’ve created a round-up of meaningful visual marketing statistics every marketer should know – facts and figures that inform my own strategies and help me win over other stakeholders.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the numbers.

1. People can process images up to 600 times faster than text

Man on a sofa viewing a branded Instagram post on his iPad while a TV ad plays in the background.

We know that humans are visual creatures, so it’s not much of a leap to assume that our brains are hardwired to process images – and science proves it.

One research team at MIT found people could identify images they saw for only 13 milliseconds. That’s faster than a single film frame – and up to 600 times faster than it takes to skim and understand a line of text.

The fact that we can recognize an image so quickly shows our brains are primed for visuals. “What vision does is find concepts,” the professor who led the MIT study explains. “That’s what the brain is doing all day long — trying to understand what we’re looking at.”

Marketing take-aways

People will process your brand’s visuals before they even get to the first word of text. As you create marketing collateral, give the imagery and design just as much attention as the words – if not more.

That means investing in your graphic design team, and making sure your brand has guidelines for using graphics and images strategically.

2. Photos of people get 38% more likes on social media

Nike Instagram post featuring an underwater closeup of a woman wearing goggles and a pink hijab swimsuit.

Voice, identity, persona – there’s a reason we talk about brands if they were people. You want to make a human connection with your customers. So be sure to take every opportunity to give your brand a human face – literally.

There’s lots of research to support the idea that images with faces are more engaging.

In one study, scientists at Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs analyzed over a million posts on Instagram and found pictures with faces were 38% more likely to get likes and 32% more likely to attract comments.

Why do faces trigger a stronger response? The scientist who led the study says our brains are always on the lookout for facial expressions: “Even as babies, people love to look at faces. Faces are powerful channels of non-verbal communication. We constantly monitor them for a variety of contexts, including attractiveness, emotions and identity.”

Marketing take-aways

Product photos are an essential part of marketing collateral, but don’t forget the human touch. Include photos of people using your product, happy customers or even the friendly faces of people on your team. If a custom photo shoot isn’t possible, stock photos work fine too. Just make sure to use images that look natural. Images that scream “stock photo” won’t foster a genuine connection.

3. Eye contact increases trust in brands by 16%

Twix box designs side-by-side, one with eye contact and one without.

According to research at Cornell University, images with eye contact create an extra strong connection. For the study, a team of food psychologists edited a box of Trix cereal to create two versions. On one box, the brand’s rabbit mascot is looking at a bowl of cereal. On the other, it’s making direct eye contact.

The scientists asked people to look at the boxes and react to statements like “I trust this brand,” “I feel connected to this brand,” and “this box is attention-getting.” The box with the rabbit making eye contact performed 16% better.

One of the researchers summed it up neatly: “Eye contact appears to increase feelings of trust and connection to a brand.”

Marketing take-aways

Use eye contact strategically to connect with your customers. Just don’t go overboard. If you look at that Trix rabbit too long, it starts to feel a little creepy. A website full of people staring at your customers might make them uncomfortable. However, one prominently placed image of a person looking straight into the camera is a great way to grab people’s attention, establish an instant rapport and draw them in towards the rest of your content.

4. Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%

A DHL truck next to a FedEx truck, demonstrating how color aids brand recognition.

Color is the most powerful way to keep your brand consistent and recognizable – a whopping 80% more recognizable according to Xerox.

It’s not hard to see why. Color is the fastest shortcut our brains use to identify and recognize the brands we encounter in everyday life.

Imagine you’re walking through an airport looking for a Starbucks. Your eyes and brain will start scanning storefronts, on the lookout for that distinctive Starbucks green. Similarly, if you’re sitting at home waiting for a DHL package, you’ll probably keep glancing out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of yellow coming down the street.

Marketing take-aways

To keep things consistent, make sure your brand’s style guide is clear about how to use color. Your main color may seem obvious, but specific color codes will help people find the exact right shade and hue. Explain which accent colors to use for different design elements and how to balance different colors for a consistent look across all your collateral.

This knowledge is absolutely essential for anyone on your creative team, but it’s worth making sure everyone at your company knows how important color is to brand recognition. Your carefully crafted, on-brand PowerPoint templates will only get you so far if someone creating a pitch deck on the fly gets a little too “creative” with font colors and DIY graphics.

5. 69% of people would rather watch a video than read a text to learn about a product or service

Still from a marketing video featuring the Sonos One on a white background.

When people think about visual marketing, they usually think about static images – logo design, infographics, photo selection, etc. But don’t forget about that other visual medium: video.

Video marketing is big right now, and with good reason. According to the video marketing service Wyzowl, 69% of consumers said they’d rather watch a video than read a text to get new information.

Video isn’t just convenient for consumers, it’s good for brands too. Between music, narration and just plain talking into the camera – video gives you lots of extra ways to connect with customers in a format that’s easy to consume.

Marketing take-aways

You probably already have great content ripe for translating to video. Got an amazing customer success story? Send a camera crew to bring it to life. Want to show customers how to use a new feature? Video tutorials make everything easy to follow.

What’s more, YouTube is the second most visited website in the world, and arguably the second largest search engine. That means video is a fantastic way for people to discover your brand – as long as you keep your channel active with informational content targeted to your audience.

Putting visual marketing statistics to use

Visual marketing is a powerful tool, and there’s plenty of data out there to support its use. So if you’re making the case for a bigger visual marketing budget, pepper some visual marketing statistics into your pitch.

Even better, keep them in mind as you plan and create marketing collateral, whether that means setting aside some extra time for video production or employing a little strategic eye contact in your next design.