In times of crisis and intense information flow, images have an important role to play. Many brands and organisations are looking for guidance on how to balance the right tone of voice in their daily communications. Can we use happy images in difficult times? Semiotician Karin Sandelin of Kantar explains what you need to consider to choose the right images.
As an image communicator and brand manager, it is important to take into account the seriousness of
the situation and ensure that all communication respects the current emotional state of the recipient, but also to maintain the brand's expressed identity. In troubled times, we like to turn to stable and secure brands, with which we have a long-term and consistent relationship. Brands that we recognise and understand.
What can this mean in concrete terms? Karin Sandelin gives us three different examples.
Positive and enabling perspectives
If you are a brand that stands for positive and enabling perspectives, then you should continue to do so - with respect for all that is happening. This might mean that you don't choose images that show bubbly, bubbling joy in a difficult time, but instead warmly optimistic motifs - a sense of belonging.
If you're a brand that stands for reassuring care, it's a good idea to continue to choose images that support rather than problematise. It's the relationship you've built with your target audience, who look to you for stability and the familiar - a sense of reassurance.
And if you're a brand that stands more for expertise and depth, then continue to choose images that represent insider seriousness, gravitas and complexity. But that doesn't mean brash and simplistic subjects, you're expected to keep an intellectual and considered perspective - a sense of awareness.
The image is an important part of the message
Images play an important role in our fast-paced information flows. We perceive them directly and unconsciously. The symbolism of images affects our perception of the message, who is saying it and why. In this way, they build a relationship. They appeal to us, frighten us, reassure us or stress us. They affect how we feel and our perspectives. That's why it's important to consider what story the image is telling, and that it always does so in context.