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    June 14, 2005


    Pete Gagliardi


    I totally agree. In fact, David Givens is an interesting guy to talk to. He's the director for the center of non-verbal studies in WA. I've communicated with him several times and believe that his ideas and studies can be valuable to branding. Perhaps, he holds some proof that can be used to make a convincing arguement. Good stuff.

    Paul Wilson

    Really interesting article - thanks. I always find the simple powerpoint slide summarising a brand omits the roughness and the edges that made a brand interesting.

    I also stole your example about target and their prescription bottles to illustrate a point about how brands can communicate in much broader ways than just broadcast media. (so maybe that makes it '850 words and one picture about the non-verbal')

    Mark Lewis

    Great article. It actually matches up well with stuff discussed at the TED conference this year.

    One of the big challenges we face is that our current tracking studymethodologies are (mostly) verbal, but brands are consumeed or built through images.

    GM has recently done a positioning study that minimizes the use of words, using pictures instead to verify how people feel about brands.


    aahhh! a like-mind - how refreshing - i recently left an agency in denver where i began my advocacy for this practice while working on p&g brands. it frustrated me so much that the most important thing to them and their brands were "claims". to add heat to the fire, claims would be tested absent of visuals. i began championing the idea of "whole communications" in everything i do, and instituted many of your suggestions - and they WORK! i've had better luck selling in ideas, trends, etc., by increasing my use of pictures and decreasing the amount of verbage, plus making it more simple. and it's a lot more fun and more importantly really invigorated me as a planner. thanks for the support.

    one more stat:
    1) the average high school student's vocabulary has dropped from 25,000 words to 10,000 words in the last 10 years

    Beef Wellington

    You talk about "the weakeness of words." And yet that's exactly what you - and Melissa and the others - are using on this blog to communicate your thoughts. We may be evolving (or devolving) into a post-literate culture thing, but a few well-chosen words can still say just as much as any visual. The problem with visual-based solutions is that they are often too glib and superficial. Don't get me wrong: There are times when the right visual says it all. But sometimes pictures alone are not enough. Sometimes you need words - and lots of them - to make your case. Bottom line: I think we should avoid such simplistic conclusions as saying that pictures are good and words are bad - or vice versa. It's not necessarily an either/or proposition. It's whatever works best for any given situation.


    You make a good point beef wellington. This was not meant to be an argument that 'visuals are good, words are bad'. There has to be a happy medium. But given the importance of non-verbal communication (and this can mean how words are said) I think there really is a need to move away from word/paper strategy, communication and evaluation. Words alone cannot capture the richness of communication.

    Peter Oehlkers

    In the course of a week or two, I ran across your essay, Goldstein & Gerard's new book (Going Visual), Umberto Eco's new novel (stuffed with meaningful images), and talked about ZMET with my consumer behavior students. Something is definitely in the air. Goldstein & Gerard's point is that given the current state of technology, it is silly NOT to use images more in the business world. As you note, Watzlawick et al are authorities here--and they stress the importance of both channels: the analogical can communicate emotion but is notoriously imprecise. (I think the ZMET rightfully focuses on metaphor as the link between the analogical and the digital). At any rate, good thoughtful stuff.
    (BTW, appreciated your AdAge letter today).

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