Visual Literacy

An interview with Tony Buzan, the creator of the mind map, brings to mind an important point about literacy that should be remembered by all marketers and communicators today.

Simply, the way the world communicates is becoming increasingly visual, and less text oriented. Mind maps are one way to turn logical thinking into a picture, or visual image that is easily understandable.

Recently I put a large communications plan that would have taken 10 pages to write into a one-page mind map that logically outlined all the steps, large and small, that had to be undertaken to implement the plan. Although the people I designed it for were very smart and well educated, they likely wouldn’t have read the entire plan.

Like many people, they would have wanted a summary, a few paragraphs that they could grasp quickly. Financiers, executives, clients and customers want everything summarized these days. They don’t have the time or inclination to wade through a lot of verbiage.

But written summaries tend to be narrow. They focus on one point, that is seized upon by the reader, usually to the detriment of everything else. All the strategic subtlety and integration is removed: and a plan ends up being a mere collection of tactics or action steps.

So riding to the rescue in this world of increasing hurry-up literacy are visual tools like the mind map. There are many others of course, many of them following the teachings of Edward Tufte. I developed one myself called the pictogram.

Some of the new methods of transferring information visually are a bit silly and overdesigned. But their very existence points to a need.

All marketers and communicators today should recognize that this visual style of information transfer is going to increase. It’s simpler, faster, and conveys a large amount of information in a very assimulable form.

Explore posts in the same categories: communications, creative thinking, idea formation, information, literacy, marketing techniques, story telling, Uncategorized

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