In the world of digital marketing, most brands are struggling to find a way to stand out to their customers. After all, it’s getting exceptionally crowded out there, and getting noticed is starting to involve more fancy footwork than ever before. In light of this, lots of companies are turning to visual priming as a way to gain and maintain attention.
In this post, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of visual priming, and how you can start to weave elements of it into your visual marketing strategy.
Let’s dive in.
What is Visual Priming?
First things first – what is visual priming? The answer is fascinating. According to Psychology Today:
“Priming is a phenomenon in which exposure to a stimulus, such as a word or an image, influences how one responds to a subsequent, related stimulus. It is thought to occur when particular mental representations or associations are activated before a person carries out an action or task. For example, a person who sees the word doctor will be faster to recognize the word nurse than he will be to recognize an unrelated word because the concepts are closely associated.”
The mechanism behind priming is this: priming activates an association or representation in the human memory, right before the introduction of another stimulus or task. This entire process takes place without our awareness, yet it impacts multiple aspects of our everyday lives.
Need a few examples of how priming works? Exposing a friend to the word “yellow” would create a faster response to the word “school bus” or “banana” than it would an unrelated word, like mountain. This is because the words “yellow” and “banana” are closely linked in human memory, and the response between the two can be faster.
While priming may sound like a complex psychological phenomenon, it can have a variety of applications in the real world, most notably in the field of marketing.
The Visual Priming Process
From what scientists currently understand about memory, we store units of information in our long-term memory. According to VerywellMind:
“The activation of these schemas [unbits] can either be increased or decreased in a variety of ways. When the activation of certain units of information is increased, these memories become easier to access. When activation is decreased, the information becomes less likely to be retrieved from memory. Priming suggests that certain schemas tend to be activated in unison. By activating some units of information, related or connected units also become active. So why would it be useful for related schemas to become activated and more accessible? In many instances, being able to draw related information into memory more quickly might help people respond faster when the need arises.”
This application is essential to the use of visual priming in marketing. When we can draw related information into our memories more rapidly, we can respond faster when we need to. This is important both in terms of daily functionality (when we have schemas related to rainstorms and slippery roads, for example, we drive more carefully on wet days), and marketing. By priming the human mind to think of information, it can react more rapidly when it encounters a specific situation.
Using Priming in Marketing
Priming relies on the use of associations made in the subconscious, and it lends itself beautifully to marketing. Here’s a quick example of how a restaurant could use priming: say the bistro bought too much French wine, and it needs to offload some of it. One possible way to do this would be to play French cafe music. The customers eating at the establishment would hear the music and automatically place higher importance on French wine since the music will create an unconscious association with French things.
Sounds simple, right? It is! And it could represent a significant boost for your marketing efforts. With that in mind, here are a few ways to use priming in your marketing:
Focus on visuals
It’s no great surprise that visual priming would rely heavily on the use of visuals in marketing. With this in mind, keep the various visual elements of your brand at the forefront of your marketing efforts. To be as effective as possible, your color, logo, language, social posts, name branding, and website design should all prime prospects for association with your company’s strongest selling points.
Today, providing incredible customer experiences is about much more than just selling a good product and responding quickly to customer inquiries: it’s also about presenting yourself in a way that makes customers feel good and inspires a sense of trust in your offerings. When your visual elements all align to do this, you’re well on your way to successful visual priming.
If your visuals are lacking, bring in a professional photographer or videographer to help you create more powerful visuals. It’s a simple investment in your brand that has the potential to go a long way.
Related Reading: Creating Effective Advertisements With Photography
Invest in Custom Content
It’s tough to create true visual priming if you’re relying on stock photos and pre-made content. Instead, invest in photographers and videographers who will work with you to create the kind of visual content you need to drive your brand forward. These creators can utilize specific color schemes, designs, and elements to communicate effectively with your customers and help you create a brand that stands out.
Not sure where to find these visual gurus? Check our selection here at The Hub. We specialize in bringing creators and brands together and are proud to provide a selection of skilled photographers and videographers who know how to work with brands and deliver results.
Don’t Overlook Indirect Attributes
Indirect techniques can influence the subconscious. Remember the example of the French wine? When it comes to your visual marketing, flex this to your benefit. Examples include using colors commonly associated with particular attributes, or seed words that stir up subconscious associations.
While some people believe utilizing visual priming is a form of manipulation in marketing, that isn’t true. In fact, visual priming is an intelligent way to use the realities of human psychology for your benefit. The more deftly you can flex it in your marketing, the more successful your campaigns and efforts will be – both now and in the future.
Related Reading: Visual Branding Basics
The Case for Priming in Marketing
Priming in marketing is a smart technique, and it can have a massive impact on the success of your advertising. Because people are so influenced by visual content, simply making small, simple changes to your ads, website, and digital material can drastically improve their ROI. If you’re interested in utilizing elements of visual priming, remember the effectiveness of the effort relies on how closely you can align your approaches with your brand. The more authentic and natural it all feels, the more successful it will be for your customers.