A little thought exercise:
1 ). Imagine a picture of a sofa – It has high grade fabric with a blind pull and stainless steel legs. The picture is well lit, captured in high resolution, and the background is white.
2). Now, imagine the picture in which the sofa is placed in a home, next to a window, maybe a few accent pillows and a complementary throw blanket decorate the cushions. The light from the window is diffused by sheer curtains and falls onto the sofa just right. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere, we’ve added some context. This context is by design, meaning the location and decoration reflect research studied on the sofa retailer’s target audience, or at least it should.
3). Ok so now add a person to image 2 (above) – Holy moly, this changes EVERYTHING. Now the viewer’s mind is going crazy, subconsciously and rapidly associating every detail with their own personal narrative. Concepts like, how the person is sitting, what they’re wearing, their hair cut, facial expression/hair, it’s all being computed by the viewer, assessing the image from which to conclude either aspiration, inspiration or both.
It’s that simple. The consumer either aspires to one day own the sofa, or relates to the imagery establishing affinity, or in some cases, we showed the wrong audience the wrong picture. Chances are, if you know your target audience, the picture will be designed to represent that demographic.
Images 1 & 2 are great for the interest and consideration stages, maybe there is a comparison feature that allows the user to examine the sofa’s shape, upholstery, and legs with another. Image 3 would work best in the awareness stage – grab attention with a carefully crafted scene.
People want to see people. We all have a biological feature set that allows us to visualize the unreal (prefrontal cortex), and by the same mechanism, identify story patterns, which are made more recognizable by the human form.
It is in this short moment, when a viewer truly looks at an image and begins the story pattern recognition process, that the work of the digital marketer is challenged, tested, and hopefully, rewarded.