Why Visualisation Is So Effective In Innovation

We talk a lot about visualisation in our articles, when you should use it, what sort of visualisation is best etc. but we have yet to discuss exactly why visualisation is so effective to find and build innovation solutions. Firstly, let’s demonstrate people’s inherent preference for the visual. Take a look at the written description of a circle below and the visual next to it. Which is easier to understand?

Graphic and textual description of a circle

Hopefully, you found the visual easier to understand – people usually do! It isn’t surprising as Psychologist Albert Mehrabian found that 93% of our communication is non verbal. This clearly shows that the written word is not “the way” to communicate.

So, how does this visual preference help innovation?

 1. Quality and quantity:

quality-and-quantity image

  • Robert E. Horn, argued that “when words and visual elements are closely entwined, we create something new and we augment our communal intelligence … visual language has the potential for increasing ‘human bandwidth’—the capacity to take in, comprehend, and more efficiently synthesise large amounts of new information.” Therefore, consumers can take in a lot more information when presented with visuals
  • They also help with the speed of understanding – 3M Corporation state that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text!
  • W.H. Levie and R. Lentz found that visuals help to focus our attention. This means that consumers are more likely to remember what it is they have seen

What does this mean for innovation?

  • You can hugely increase the scope of your consumer sessions, providing much more insight and moving your innovation on much more quickly
  • You can share upwards of 40 plus ideas with consumers per session rather than the norm of 6-10 written concepts
  • You can feel confident that they understand each idea, remember it clearly so they can talk intelligently about it and do all this at a speed which means your sessions stay at a maximum of 2 hours 

2. Enhances emotional engagement with the idea:

Heart and brain holding hands

  • H. Van Oostendorp, J. Preece and A.G. Arnold contend that emotions have a critical role in decision making and that they influence rational thinking
  • Levie and Lentz state that pictures enhance or affect emotions and attitudes

What does this mean for innovation?

  • Visuals give an important benefit as throughout your consumer sessions you will likely be asking consumers to make a series of decisions about what they do/ don’t like, whether they would buy a potential product etc. The responses you get will be more reliable due to the higher emotional engagement you have achieved. Therefore, you can base your innovation decisions on a more solid foundation 

3. Encourages creative thinking:

Paint covered hands

  • According to D. Bobrow and D. Norman visuals stimulate different parts of the brain which ignite our imagination and creative thinking

What does this mean for innovation?

  • When you are asking consumers to build on ideas and co-create to solve problems or even just to think around a problem stimulating the brain in the right way is critical. It will enable you to get the best out of your consumers. Solutions and ideas will inevitably be more innovative and exciting, pushing you further down your innovation path

The power of using visuals is undeniable and can really help to make sure you kick start your innovation process in the right way. When you need consumers to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, understand ideas and be creative, visuals are clearly invaluable.

Reference: The Power of Visual Communication, Mike Parkinson