Why the use of visuals help our brains to understand better

Have you ever realised how much visual information there is in our day to day lives? If you have the time, take a moment and go for a walk. All around us are visual images on buildings, cars, people, shops and street signs. You will be surprised by how many images, photos, pictures, icons, pictograms are around you in your neighbourhood. If you don’t have the time for a walk then go to your kitchen or your bathroom. Have a look at everything that you find there: your bread, bottles, oven, microwave, toiletries, perfume, washing powder, toothbrush ... is there anything visual to find? Do you see pictures? Icons? Lettering?

There is probably tons of things to look at and I suppose you also found a lot of visuals. What is the one you remember most? For what reason? Is it the colour, the form or the simplicity that you remember? I’d be interested to know, so please, share your insights. Photos are welcome, too.

It is not surprising that images are used nearly everywhere in our everyday lives. In our day to day communication on mobile phones and emails we use visual emojis - without writing any text we can talk about people, places, things and emotions. Psychological studies show our brain processes images much better than words. Images are processed directly by our long-term memory whilst words are an abstract concept for our brain and much more difficult to retain. Unless words are hooked onto a visual they will be processed by our short-term memory. Our short-term memory is able to retain about seven pieces of information That is why we memorize visual information much better than written or spoken “textual” information. The relationship between text and signs is perfect when combined with images and will be processed by our long-term memory.

Visuals support retentive memory

You can test your power to think visually with a quick test: Think of your last holiday when you were really relaxed and had a great time. What is the moment you really enjoyed? What were you doing? Most probably, you will now be thinking of a beautiful experience you had on your last holiday and an image pops into your mind. You see yourself relaxing in a wonderful environment and you can nearly feel the fresh air and the warm sun on your skin. Can you see the colour of the sky and feel the texture of the ground you are standing on? If you can, you have just visualized your last holiday with the helping hand of an image.

As you feel the weather on your skin, you should also feel relaxed and happy and this is how an image can trigger an emotion. This is exactly the reason why we are confronted with so many visuals in our everyday lives. Visualized content in any form as image, photo or sketch help us to understand better and to engage and connect with the information that surrounds us. It gives us the opportunity to understand more easily and faster.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising that visuals added to your message help you to explain content better. When including a picture or a sketch into any content you will find that it is presented in a more inclusive way. That is the reason why you should also start to use more visuals in your daily routine and your business. It is easy to use a photo you recently shot or draw a fast sketch. It is worth it. It will help people better understand and connect to your message more effectively.

Further information on psychological aspects/ source: