What if you could not see Baywatch, but just read about it!?!

Read about Baywatch!? Aaha! For scores of beach & beauty fans, it would surely be a serious let down. It needs a literate mind to read & absorb but just a blink of an eye to imprint a memorable image. I can remember many verses that eulogize pictures. The oldest among them being: A picture speaks a 1000 words. In a book by Leonard Shlain, titled ‘The Alphabet versus the Goddess’, the author explains the peace that reigned over most ancient cultures which reveled in visual imagery. It was also defined as the time when the feminine form was revered. Often associated with the right brain it was the centre of creativity, was holistic, followed the oral tradition and was intuitive. Then wars were fought when the ‘written word’ claimed superiority over the ‘image’. The literate mind defined by the written word & then the printing press, diminished the role of the image and with it the linear left brain triumphed.

I would argue that both are needed, albeit in a balanced way to ensure harmony & nurture growth. The written word is undoubtedly assertive, defines rules & creates boundaries within which we must operate. It is however the fuel for scientific discoveries and progress. The visual language is subjective and leaves room for interpretation hence misunderstanding. It is however fluid and adds texture to life. Imagine if every blog post were full of words. No images. Boring isn’t it. I have observed that when viewing a post, many people often click the video insert even before they finish reading.

Then the question any book lover (that includes me) would ask is obvious. It can become a powerful argument if one had to compare the publishing business and movie business. But my right brain implores a view of this video that could silence most critics of the visual world.

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‘Where books come to Life’!!! I enjoyed it as an avid reader and painter.

Look at religion. Despite its book of rules, its caretakers use a series of symbols and visuals to evoke faith and passion among its followers/zealots. Be it to extend warmth or create fear. How about something closer home! Ever watched a parent tell stories to children? Ever watched a baby smile at the sight of its mother, even though it has spent 9 months only listening to her soft, sweet words? Ever watched a magic show? Or stepped into the final of a football World Cup?

Maybe that’s why in the business of brands, long copy has been replaced by viral videos. We relish Flickr, Apple designs, YouTube, augmented reality videos, the Waka Waka anthem in motion…all, that tease the eye. Evoke the senses. In India for years in villages, Lifebuoy soap was known by its color. Customers simply asked the shopkeeper for the ‘lal (red) wala sabun (soap)’.

Let me break the pattern of the written word. Here’s something from the 80s that pushed the tempo for music videos

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Another video that visually grabs you

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It’s obvious then, when brands are created, it’s the branding elements that make the opening ceremony a delight. Uniforms, the retail look, packaging, the brand ambassador, the logo, visual tone etc. The image is imprinted even before a single word is spoken.

So when does this visual imagery get best expressed with brands? A couple of mantras come to my mind.

1. When one focuses not on the voice over, but the story telling.

The test to measure some of the most effective advertisements is when the sound is switched off and the visuals convey the message with ease

2. When the image is grounded by its interpretation, but given some room for imagination to flourish

The campaign for a very rational news channel Times Now over the last year struck that balance.

The power of the image was even more apparent yesterday when a new symbol was introduced to every Indian. When India’s financial brands led by its currency, the ‘rupaiya’ got its own logo. It is interesting that in the midst of currency symbols from some very rich countries/a continent, India chose to create its unique footprint. And why not? Given that the symbol has always enabled cut-thru.

The ‘Rupaiya’ design is “an amalgam of the Devanagari ‘Ra’ and the Roman capital ‘R’ without the stem…. [it] is based on the Tricolour and “arithmetic equivalence”. While the white space between the two horizontal lines gives the impression of the national flag with the Ashok Chakra, the two bold parallel lines stand for ‘equals to’, representing balance in the economy, both within and with other economies of the world. It has merged India’s traditional & modern ethos” as voiced by the ministry & the creator. .

Given the category codes of a financial brand, the Rupee, Euro & the Pound logo attempt to convey stability/balance of the currency. It will be interesting to see whether this symbol will enable formalize the Indian currency especially in the international financial markets & mark its strengthening course against major currencies.

The power of the image, visual, symbol is obvious. What remains to be seen is how we play with it, in this experience economy & era of conversations, to weave the perfect story.

In the words of Robert Frost, “what is required is sight and insight – then you might add one more: excite”.

I just saw you smile.


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7 Comments

  1. Visual energy is an execution clutter breaker. Often that is taken as the starting point rather than the creative idea itself. Today globally, it is this very concept that magnifies the brand in gaming zones, cyberspace, live action. Don’t book writers visualize every scene before they pen them too. It is prevalent whether it’s subtle or stark. It’s only quantitative researchers who work otherwise.

  2. Hi Sandhya. Nice post. Is there a role for long copy in advertising then? Except for tactical print advertising, all other media thrives on visual appeal. And the extent it can be carried to is the shock value of Benetton or that never forgettable green eyed Afghan girl from the National Geographic cover. Where does Twitter fit in? I don’t think Indians have still started tweeting even if it is 140 words only. Our SMS is full of smileys. Somehow we find a way to make it visual.

    • freshbrew team |

      Thanks Sanjeev. I totally agree that India is more visual & even more dramatic than we credit it with. Look at our architecture of bygones and our varied dance forms that use the face to express emotions. Writing is an educated man’s vocation. But a balance helps. It would help if the right & left brain simply struck the right chord as one.

  3. Very refreshing post……

  4. I thought i didn’t like the new rupee logo. But i think i do now after reading the rationale. Been too busy to even read the papers these days. Enlightening post!

    • freshbrew team |

      Prahlad the good thing is, it’s likely to be better recalled now that it has a form. And more often symbols, like brand logos stick. They obviously used crowd sourcing, but I wish they had made more noise. It could have got us all to truly own it.

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