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Sound and Vision: Do Visuals Still Matter in the Age of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)?


This article was submitted by Washington Design Consultants.

“Don't you wonder sometimes ‘Bout sound and vision” – David Bowie, Sound and Vision

Bowie’s musings on the troublesome relationship between sound and vision still permeate contemporary discussions in the creative industry. Debates surrounding the priority of sound, be that audio or written content, vs that of vision, everything from print and digital graphics to the use of video and moving imagery, can be heard playing out in creative offices across the globe. Your organisation’s stance necessarily influences how you market yourselves. Are you a design agency that also produces content or a content marketing agency who also dabble in visuals and design? For businesses, it begs the question of budget. Do you spend your dollar on design or save the cash for content?

In an age where Google, the grand dame of business generation, is progressively rewarding organisations for their relevant web content, and with clients becoming increasingly aware of the need for SEO, is there still a space for creative visuals in a kingdom where content is constantly coronated as King?

In the first of our two part series we take a look at the importance of visuals and examine why organisations and businesses looking to create an impact should continue to place value on what the eye spies…


To borrow a phrase- here comes the science bit. Research suggests that the human brain processes images up to 60,000 times faster than text.

However, as we all know, speed isn’t everything. The study also found that the rapidity in which the brain reads these images is achieved by looking for and identifying concepts. Furthermore, the brain was found to be able to extract and attach meaning to seemingly unconnected images even when exposed to them at speed. Whilst it’s always a pleasure to take a moment and marvel at our gargantuan grey matter, what does this research mean for businesses looking to increase their impact and reach?

This all becomes of increasing importance when you begin to introduce concepts like branding. Sitting down to work with a client on their branding requires a mutual appreciation of how branding encapsulates the connotations and associations people make with an organisations product or services (there’s those concepts and meanings as identified in the study). Of course, the quickest way people can identify with your brand is through your logo. A good design agency will work with you to create a bespoke logo that quickly and effectively speaks to your audience. Your logo should be a visual representation of your brand. It should reflect your personality, purpose and brand heritage. By combing image and text or through designing bespoke typeface, a design agency can ensure your logo is impactive and memorable enticing your audience to engage with your brand further.

Common Language

We’ve all been there. That awkward moment on holiday where you’re madly gesticulating at the bar trying to mime the name of a particularly evocative cocktail. Think how much time, effort and, potentially, bail money could have been saved if you’d had a picture menu there to help you.

As the globe becomes ever more interconnected, the adage of a picture speaking a thousand words has never rung more true. Employing high quality images, be they graphics, photographs or illustrations, can ensure your message “speaks” to your target audience. Images remove barriers across both language and literacy levels. In Wales, it is estimated that 12% of adults have only entry level literacy skills. Globally, that figure rises to 26%. These figures become of increasing importance if you’re looking to run a behaviour-changing or health focussed campaign. Using images can ensure that your campaign is both inclusive and generates maximum impact and reach.

Quality of images

Not only do our brains process images faster than text but they retain images longer, too. It is, therefore, essential that the images and graphics employed by your organisation or business are of a high quality, both with respect to design and finish. It is estimated that the average person is exposed to up to 5,000 advertisements a day. That’s a lot of visual information to process. If your audience is seeing the same stock images on rotation then, as research indicates, they’ll soon switch off. A design agency can work with you to create images that transcend the tired out, ensuring your use of visual material is creative, distinctive and engaging.

It is not only the design but the finish of images that speak volumes. From CYMK to RGB, digital to litho, ensuring images and graphics are optimised to work across both print and digital media is essential. Employing a knowledgeable and well experienced graphics agency will ensure that all elements of your visual design packages are optimised for mobiles, tablets, web and print.


The inclusion of well designed graphics and images can have a hugely transformative impact. Whilst the text may hold the bulk of your messages, research indicates that the use of imagery and graphics can help people retain and better understand the key messages. This is vital when designing public health, behaviour changing or knowledge raising campaigns. It is also equally important for businesses. In an age where time is a premium, being able to convey information quickly and efficiently is paramount.

Whether it’s in the form of internal or external communications or correspondence with stakeholders and investors, the use of images will ensure that your message, and brand, is memorable and understandable in an increasingly fast paced world.