The power of visuals! Show; don't tell

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Published 
December 28, 2021

Show; don’t tell

Ever wonder why tinder’s logo is red in colour and why the shape is that of a flame. How easily we get attracted to these things without even knowing? It’s a simple technique that advertising agencies use, which is SHOW; DON’T TELL, where instead of telling people what your brand does, you are showing it through colours and a creative logo.

The above picture is a solid example of Show; don’t tell. Instead of telling people what KOLESTAN naturals does, it shows it on the billboard.

A picture speaks a thousand words and so does a brand’s colour and its logo. Colours have a significant impact on people’s emotional state. Colours in branding are an important part, as customers’ response to a colour is based on their life experiences and cultural associations. But it can change from culture to culture, like white is the colour of death and mourning in India whereas it’s the colour black in the U.S.A. Brand consultants tell the brands which colour will be the most appropriate for them, while also making it distinct from others. For example, if we take COCA COLA, the colour red which the company has chosen stands for passion, energy, confidence and power, which is everything the company stands for. Different colour evoke a different emotions:

  • Green stands for eco-friendly, freshness, money and wealth
  • Orange makes people feel enthusiastic, playfulness and creativity.
  • Yellow is for optimism, happiness, cheerfulness and warmth.
  • Blue is associated with calmness, logic, peace and serenity.
  • Black is seen as a serious, elegant, exclusive, classic and a sophisticated colour.

So, brand managers should carefully decide as to which colour they want. If your brand represents sophistication, choosing bright colours would be a bad option. One can also choose multiple colours like that of Google or eBay if your brand is into diversity and is offering a wide range of products and services.

Similarly, a company’s logo is the one thing which is always visible to the viewers, and a brand through it can explain a lot without actually saying anything. For example, the logo of tinder which we talked about in the starting, is in the shape of a flame, which  represents hotness or fire inside of a human body, and it clearly states what the brand is all about. A logo is a brand’s identity and it creates the customer’s first impression about the brand. It also sends a message about the company’s values and what it stands for. The Baskin Robbins

logo include the no. 31 which is the number of flavours of ice cream that they have. A great logo will help people remember your brand.


Brands just talking and telling customers about their product have gone out of fashion. This concept of marketing is rightly dying out: the age of talking to consumers is over. If content creators want people to watch, they’ll have to show them. If advertising agencies want us to buy, they’ll have to show us why we should buy it. For content producers, advertisers and brands, the talking-at model is no longer the same way. We send our friends memes that we know they’ll relate to, similarly, brands also need to be more like curating tastemakers and less like someone who is constantly shouting through a loudspeaker about themselves. No one wants this anymore. The goal is to shift the focus on the customers. In order to do that, brand managers need to adopt “show; don’t tell.” With the new digital age, people won’t spend much time looking at something which doesn’t excite them or grabs their attention. They’ll simply click on the skip ad button or just not pay attention to it.

As there is not enough time to communicate with your customers, brands need to deliver their message in a simple and effective manner. One of the most effective ways to do this is the SHOW; DON’T TELL approach. Brand consultants can do so in many ways:

  1. Visualisation: One thing you can do to grab your customer’s attention is showing what you want to convey through a picture or a video. This will help you, and it might entertain them as well. Not everybody is interested in reading, but everyone will definitely take a look at visuals.
  2. Be specific & clear: When there is space constraint and cost involved for every word, you cannot write an essay. Advertising agencies have to be clear and specific about what a brand wants to convey. Instead of telling them you are the best, why not show them?
  3. Don’t be sales oriented: When you push your product too hard, people think you are wary. They feel there’s something wrong about it.

If we see an ad by apple where it is comparing itself with other brands like OnePlus or Moto and saying it’s the best, people will not be buying iPhones, as much as they used to. That is why Apple doesn’t do it. Instead of saying it is the best, it shows people that it actually is, by talking about the features of the product like Siri, the camera quality and everything that makes it unique.

Show; don’t tell is a powerful marketing technique under branding. You can spend all day telling people about your product’s USP, but if you show them instead, it will immediately capture the customer’s attention, and will not leave them in any doubt. For example, if you wish to say that your earphones won’t allow any outside noise, you can rather show it in a picture or a video.

This technique is also adopted in content writing. If you say ‘Sara is a beautiful person,’ how and why would a person believe it, is a question. But if you say ‘Sara’s skin is so radiant that it reflects the light’, the person will automatically deduce that Sara is beautiful. So instead of directly telling your customers why don’t you paint a picture and let them deduce their own conclusion. Breathe life into your business by showing the readers, and let them visualise it, because telling has become boring.

Now in terms of numbers, users view more than 1 billion hours of video each day on YouTube, and it is the second most popular website after Google. 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service through a video. By 2022, online videos will account for more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. So it is quite clear that video marketing is rapidly increasing, and it will help the brand reach new heights sooner than we think. All the social media platforms have already included the video feature, or will be including it in a short time. Videos tell the story faster, people pay more attention to it and it’s attractive. It boosts conversion rates, as people will buy a product when they actually see it rather than just listening about it. Also, through video marketing you can show your brand’s creativity, and if people like it they might share it with their friends which will result in more virality. Now, the brand consultants have to ensure that the brand reaches its customers through video marketing.  

With all of this, it is quite apparent that advertising agencies should incorporate Show; don’t tell as their prime marketing technique. Not only will it result in more interaction but it will also be more intimate, curated and personal.

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