‘Visual vocabulary’ has been an essential communications device long before the advent of media agencies. Pictorial symbols in the forms of hieroglyphs and cave drawings, documented by archaeologists and enshrined in museums, provide a pointed reminder that images formed the base of human communication.
Fast-forward to 2019 and ‘World Emoji Day’ serves as its own reminder that visual vocabulary has permeated culture in an unprecedented way. Modern humans process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, so it’s no wonder that the emoji has become a go-to communications device in a world where people are constantly bombarded with stimuli.
Alongside fun and exciting additions to popular categories of food, animals, activities and smiley faces, Apple recently announced that designs launching on iPhone this autumn are set to bring even more diversity to the keyboard. A greater number of disability-themed emojis including a new guide dog, an ear with a hearing aid, wheelchairs, a prosthetic arm and a prosthetic leg will be available in the emoji keyboard, and well as more skin tone and gender relationship combinations.
Not only does this move serve to highlight diversity as one of Apple’s key business and brand values, but it echoes initiatives from other brand advertisers to better reflect modern Britain in its B2C communications. Big brands such as Maltesers and Lloyds Banking Group are among a handful of advertisers putting diversity at the heart of their communications strategies, often using visual vocabulary as a creative vehicle.
Visual vocabulary is, and will remain, a conduit between the brand and consumer. Visual communications drive longer-term saliency and impact, so it’s clear that brands need to translate increasingly diverse and inclusive creative platforms into easy to process visuals which can quickly convey information in ways that text simply cannot.