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Usage of Images in the Marketing Sector

Outline

Images have been used by different cultures, nations, and organizations as symbols that give them an identity. The symbols are usually unique emblems that distinguish a group from the other. These symbols may have different meanings to other groups but possess a significant identity to the users. The symbols are usually signs of prestige and dignity to the concerned groups, which make them to be so much cherished by them. The use of images has also been adapted in the marketing sector by companies and on products to signify their services. This has gone a long way in promoting the products of a certain company.

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Visual Culture

Visual culture, according to Mirzoeff (1999, 32) is the reflection of what is actually seen by the observer and the picture that is created in the mind concerning the seen object. This is a general subject that deals with the appealing value of a certain object. Visual culture tends to describe the striking feature of a certain object or art. Several decisions and comments are always made when the eyes of the beholder looks at a certain object.

By looking at an object, the observer is able to draw some conclusions about it without even reading its contents. Visual expression has been a method used since time immemorial to create the first impact. When designing an object that will be accepted and appreciated by the public, it is important for the artist to make it in a way that it will attract an individual the first time they look at it.

Different cultures are represented by unique images and symbols that can be easily identified. This may be reflected by the different flags that are used to represent the different nations. These are unique emblems that can not be used by more than one culture. There is an immediate picture that is created in the mind of the observer when they behold a certain image. This usually reminds them of the history and identity of a certain form. By using such emblems it signifies the pride and appreciation that the user has towards the culture or form represented.

Taking an example of a national flag, we find that a flag tells us much about a certain nation. As simple as it may look, when observing the flag of a nation it reminds individuals of the many challenges that they may have gone through as a nation and how they are coping up with the situations. A national flag usually gives the citizens a sense of identity, it will keep reminding them that they are from some where and whatever they are, they are reminded to pledge their allegiance to the same. National flags are usually placed in administrative offices, learning institutions, and in public meetings, especially during national holidays. Mirzoeff (1999, 33)

The flags may have different meanings to different people; there are different kinds of pictures that are drawn in their minds when they see a certain flag Howells, (2003, 29-30). The flag of a country will remind an individual of both the positive and negative challenges and achievements that the country went through. It reminds them of the solidarity of the freedom fighters and what they had to go through to ensure the achievements that can be seen, it also reminds them to protect and defend their national heritage at all times.

A national flag may also bring out emotions in an individual; by looking at it, a person may be reminded of a sad moment in the nation’s history and be moved to tears. When a country is not doing well either economically or politically, an individual will be reminded of those current happenings, that may create a sense of hopelessness in him, likewise, when there is something positive that is happening in the nation, by looking at the flag. The citizen of the nation will feel proud, which will in turn brighten and motivate them.

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National flags do not only have impacts on the citizens of a country, but there is also an image that may be created in the images of foreigners about a certain nation. When people look at the flag of America, they think of a superpower, a nation that has the potentials of succeeding in all aspects Barnard (2001, 21-24). However, with the recent challenges that have been facing the nation, the people look at the flag, and they are reminded of the earlier leaders that worked extra hard to maintain the countries international recognition. It makes them feel let down by the recent leadership that has failed in maintaining the nation’s supremacy.

When an individual currently sees the flag of Zimbabwe, they are reminded of the current crises that are facing the country, someone will either be moved with compassion towards the innocent citizens that have to suffer due to the poor leadership, or they will be moved with anger towards its poor leaders that are not ready to resign.

From such examples, we come to realize how significant a visual emblem is to the onlookers. It forms a source of inspiration and flashback that may be beyond a thousand words. Through an image, many pictures and memories are drawn in the mind of the onlooker. It provides a source of identity that cannot be matched by any other form, its uniqueness and connection to a certain kind of heritage gives it a significant importance that will not only be cherished by the owners but also the onlookers. This is the reason why many cultures, religions, nations, and other group organizations pose a figure that makes them be recognized by the onlookers without having to verbally explain themselves.

Visual images have been for a long time been used as a source of identity and recognition, the same has been transformed into the marketing sector, where it has been considered as the best method of sales promotion. The marketers considered the impact that has been created by the different nations, cultures, and religions in giving them a source of identity and thought that if the same is utilized in business, it will have a similar impact.

Many companies have since invented emblems and logos that give them a source of identity and pride. The same impact that is created in the minds of the observers when they see a certain flag is the same that will be created in the minds of the customers that see a logo of a certain company. Apart from the logos and general emblems of the company, different products also have different trademarks for their goods.

These trademarks signify a certain product and distinguish it from the other similar products. To protect on their multiple use by other unauthorized companies, the trademarks are usually registered. There are some specific companies that have gained international recognition due to the high quality products that they have continuously produced. When the observers look at trademarks or logos, and quality is displayed in their minds concerning a product, such products will not have to struggle to gain identity in the market.

Even the users that are new to the products will easily buy them due to the testimonies they have heard about them from other users. An example of a product that has gained international recognition due to its quality products is the Coca-Cola brand. Coca-Cola does not only represent a brand name of a soft drink, but it is also the name of the company that manufactures the product.

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This brand name has come to be recognized as the leading in the production of quality drinks, the drinks that therefore come with such a brand name will receive a lot of support from the consumers Howells (2003, 30-31). If such a company therefore decides to launch a new product into the market, it may not need to employ such extensive means to advertise it. The mere mentioning that it is a product of Coca-Cola will guarantee its acceptance. The company has been recognized for the unique images that they use to make their promotions. They have not only been interesting, but they have made many consumers of the product want to be associated with it.

It has become a sign of prestige that has even attracted the attention of other small scale business men. It has been common to see other products that are not necessarily from the company, bearing the brand name. The small scale industries that are benefiting from such recognition include the cloth industries. They have designed tee shirts, caps, and other clothes with such a design simply because they want to benefit from such sales.

Such products may not necessarily sell because of their quality but simply because of the symbol they have. Some consumers may not have the time to go through the details of the product; they simply lookout for the product brand. When they see a product that bears a brand, they trust, they will immediately go for it. Such will only happen for those products and brands that have been in the market for a long time.

For the brands that are absolutely new in the market, they require a technical advertising mechanism for them to receive a substantial recognition. The combination of images and the text therein should be able to communicate the intended message effectively and efficiently.

A product may fail to attract the potential customers not because of its quality but the means and measures that are used to advertise it. For a new product to gain the needed attention, it should be displayed in a way that will create a positive first impression. A customer will be attracted to consider the other details of the product after they have been satisfied by their look. It is generally assumed that the outward display of a product or service reflects on its content. It is therefore important for the marketers to strive at creating that first impression when displaying their goods and services. Several measures have to be taken before designing a marketing image.

The very first thing that an individual needs to understand the intensity that a given product or service needs to reach. The efforts and expenses applied in a certain advert will determine how far the product will reach. If the brand is meant to reach the international community, then it is necessary for the display measures to be in accordance with the international requirements. The same applies for the regional and national brands. Once this has been identified, it is easier to choose the kind of image that will suit the identified area.

The second thing to be considered is the kind of identity that the mention product desires to display. Culture adds test to a product and makes the concerned individuals to be identified with it. For example St. Johns ambulance service is a voluntary health care organization that assists patients with urgent needs. Looking at such a brand name, the picture that will be drawn into the observer’s mind is that due to its name, St Johns, it has a Christian background.

The person reading such a brand will not have to be explained about its history Chaplin (1994, 33-38). The brand name, as short as it looks, explains a lot about the kind of services that are provided. Such a brand name will gain a lot of attention from the Christian community due to the fact that it has a brand that they can easily identify with. Such a brand name will however not be of significance to other communities like Muslims and Hindus; the only thing that may attract them to such services is their testimony and not the brand name. This is because; the brand name is of Christian nature, an identity that is of no significance to them. This example signifies the importance of giving a product a cultural identity.

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Next, the advertiser needs to understand that not every of the potential customer will be able to comprehend the writings of the product. It may also be displayed in a way that the potential customers don’t have the time to concentrate on the readings. It is therefore important to identify an image that will communicate the required message without necessarily looking at the details. An example of such an image is the picture of a red cross.

A cross, to many, represents sacrifice for humanity; this is because of its history that associates the death and crucifixion of Jesus to save mankind. This is the reason why the sign will be used to communicate to the public about the humanity services that are being offered by a certain organization. The Red Cross will be used to direct people to health care services such as hospitals, clinics, ambulances and so forth.

When somebody is in urgent need of health care, they may not have the time to read the name of the hospital or ambulance, the sign of the Red Cross will be sufficient to tell them that they can access the needed help from that particular place. It is therefore important to look for a symbol that will quickly communicate the message without the observer having to read through the details. Such images may become of important significance, especially with the services that are to be provided for twenty four hours. At night, some names may not be clear to read or comprehend; an image will act as the fastest means through which a message can be communicated.

Another good example of such an image that is used to communicate urgent information is that of a skull with two bones in the form of an X. Such an image reminds the passers by to take caution because the place they are may not be safe for them. With such a sign, the advertiser will not need even to right the details of the danger that is being cautioned about. This is because, the message is of an urgent nature and giving the individual time to read it may make him succumb to it before they finish reading Mirzoeff (1999, 34-35). Such a sign requires a person to look at it only once and take the required action. It is therefore clear from the two examples that an advertising image should be chosen according to the urgency and the required response that it needs.

Flowers are used to signify beauty, and therefore any piece of advertisement that comes with flowers will create such a picture in the mind of the client. Different flowers may also mean different occasions; it is therefore important to consider such depending on the clients that are being targeted. The use of sounds has also been a marketing method that has recently been used to attract customers. This has been commonly used in the media and communication industry for identification by the industries.

The Nokia and Motorola phones can be identified by their unique tones. It is therefore easy to know the kind of a phone that a person is using by simply listening to its tone when they receive calls. Media channels like televisions and radios also have distinct tunes that can be identified by their listeners who may not be in a position to view them. Such sounds give the companies a sense of identity and recognition.

Advertising media

After considering the above factors, it is important for the advertisers to know that it is not only about the best designs that are chosen for the product that will make it be recognized by the prospective clients. The choice of the advertising media will go along way in determining the extent the message will go and whether it will serve the intended purpose or not. In choosing an advertising media, one should consider the kind of clients that they are targeting, their geographical locations, among others.

This will assist the marketer to choose a media that he knows will be accessible to them. If the product or service is meant to reach the international community, the advertiser may require a substantial amount of resources so as to accommodate the different international cultures. They also need to be careful to use objects and images that will be acceptable by such communities.

There are several advertising Medias that one can choose from, and they include: newspapers, magazines, books, posters, leaflets, stickers, billboards, neon boards, radio, television, internet, mobile phones, and tee shirts, among others. Each and every media has its own strengths and shortcomings; it is therefore vital for the advertiser to consider such factors for them to make the best choice Robins (1996, 20-25).

There is, however no limitation to the number of media that one desires to use, all this depends on how effective the advertiser thinks they will be and the amount of resources they are willing to invest towards the same. It is important for the advertiser to employ some sense of knowledge and wisdom to balance between the resources invested in the advertisement and the prospective impact it will have.

It will therefore not be practical for an advertiser that desires to reach a certain small targeted group to use television to advertise the product. For example, if an advertiser wants to advertise the services of a local health care facility, it will be unpractical for then to place posters in the areas that are not within the locality of the health care center. This is because the person in need may not travel all the way to such a place when there are many such facilities in their area. It will only work if the center offers unique services that may not be available in other areas. Such a means may only make the advertiser spent much and realize little. When an advertiser identifies the potential group that they are targeting, he needs to maximize the available Medias for maximum marketing.

Internet

The internet has been recently been the preferred advertising media that can be used to market almost all products both nationally and internationally. This is because of its availability and flexibility. With millions and millions of people accessing the internet every day, it has provided the best opportunities to reach such individuals. Internet advertising can be done either through emails or websites.

Email advertising has proved to be effective as it ensures that the messages reach the selected individuals. Mails are most appropriate for use when the advertiser desires to communicate some changes or the availability of certain services to the prospective individuals. It is mostly used by the advertiser to reach a group of people that he or she is familiar with Mirzoeff (1999, 32-33). There is however a method that has been adopted by some websites, where they randomly select email addresses from a certain server to market their services and products. This is usually in the form of an email subject that will be sure to raise the curiosity of the readers who will be directed to such a website.

There are different kinds of websites that may belong to certain organizations or those that are solely for commercial purposes. Both websites may be used for advertisements as long as a deal has been agreed by the owners.

With the many websites available, the advertiser needs to select one that is sure to reach appropriate customers Rose (2001, 38-41). For example, when an advertiser desires to communicate the availability of new medicine in the market, he will need to select a health website. This is because of the fact that the people that will frequently visit such a website are in need of health care, and the advertisement may just be timely for them. This also applies to other products, if they are marketed in a website that is not appropriate, a wrong audience may be targeted and thus rendering it ineffective.

Neon boards

Neon boards are white luminescent boards that enable the users to leave their messages that are usually written in bright colors. These messages are usually illuminated by fluorescent lights located at the edges. Such boards are appropriate for displaying products, especially when it is dark. The colors used for writing on these boards are erasable, which makes them even more flexible to use. Neon boards allow the use of bright colors and can be the main attraction, especially for customers that are moving at night. Neon boards can be designed in any form as the advertiser pleases, and can also be changed regularly Barnard (2001, 21-24).

The attractive colors used to display the message on the neon boards makes them irresistible by the eyes and thus making them to be read by most people that may be passing by. Neon boards are usually placed at busy places like bus stages, road junctions, and other public places. Although they are slightly costly, they may reach a large number of customers within a short time.

Radio and television

Radio and television are media that have been used for quite a long time by the marketers to promote their products. This has been mainly because of their wide use. Each and every household owns a television or a radio and therefore giving the marketers a guarantee of their commercials reaching a substantial number of customers. Commercials are usually aired during news and movie breaks and thus giving them the ability to be heard by people whose concentration is high Howells, (2003, 29-30). Frequent airing of products on using such channels makes the products familiar by the people which may raise curiosity within them to try out. When the product is found to be of quality, the company is sure of having loyal customers that may also encourage their friends to use a similar product.

Newspapers

Newspapers are daily copies that are sold to the public to inform them of the current happenings within their surroundings. They are commonly used for advertising products that are mostly in need of a detailed explanation. Being a written means of communication, they will not only include detailed information of the product, but they can always be referred to for clarifications. Unlike other forms of advertising, newspapers are flexible and can be read in any comfortable position and thus making the advertised products to be read with ease. They are also sold on a daily basis, and thus, when the products are frequently advertised, the customers become familiar with them, which raise the curiosity to try them out.

Books and magazines

Books and magazines are the best advertising Medias that can be used to target specific customers. There are different books and magazines, all written with the aim of reaching certain targeted consumers. The advertisers can therefore use such an opportunity to advertise products of such kind of groups in appropriate magazines and books. The advantage of a magazine over a newspaper is that the magazines are usually printed on a high quality paper that can be printed in many colors. This will make the advertisements to come in a more colorful and attractive way and thus making them eye catching. Magazines can also be referred to in case of need; they also have a longer life that can facilitate sharing among many individuals.

These are just some of the most preferred forms of advertising that are sure to bring results. Correct research should always be done by the marketer before choosing a media of advertising Robins (1996, 20-25). The design of the advertisement should be done by an expert to ensure that it displays all the required details in the shortest form possible. Advertising should never be a temporal exercise; it should be done regularly even if the product seems to have taken ground in the market. There are many more products in the market, and if the consumers are not regularly reminded of the product, they may doubt its quality and resolve to another one.

Conclusion

From the above analysis, we come to realize that it takes much more than just manufacturing a product and placing it in shops for selling. It requires the marketers to employ extensive forms of sales promotion which starts from the way the product is branded to how it is generally displayed. This is the vital things that will either attract customers or shy them away from the product. When the foundational methods of such advertising are done effectively, then the product will not stay in the market for long without gaining recognition.

References

Barnard, M 2001, ‘Approaches to understanding visual culture’, Palgrave, pp 21-24.

Chaplin, E 1994, ‘Sociology and visual representation’, Routledge, pp 33-38.

Howells, R 2003, ‘Visual Culture’ Blackwell Publishers, pp 29-31.

Mirzoeff, N 1999, ‘An introduction to visual culture’, Routledge, pp 32-35.

Robins, K 1996’ ‘Into the image, ‘culture and politics in the field of vision’, Routledge, pp 20-25.

Rose, G 2001, ‘Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials’ Sage, pp 38-41.

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