Visualizing intangibles, a huge marketing opportunity

We writers tend to think that anything can be explained away with a sentence, a headline, a turn of phrase.

But I am also a huge believer in information graphics and icons. Often a few lines with a Sharpie on the back of a napkin can tell a story much, much better than a few PowerPoint slides. Or an ad. (seen the napkin visual in a ad?) The downside to this is I have a growing collection of napkins from coffee shops and restaurants.

I picked up a brilliant book that deals with just this –throwing light on complex problems using pictures– called The back of the napkin by Dan Roam. “The best way to see something that isn’t there,” says Roam,” “is to look with your eyes closed.”

Visual thinking is the more intuitive way to understand and crack problems, he says. Couldn’t agree more, being (or in spite of being) a writer. That’s why we still need white boards, Visio, and of course napkins.

On a larger scale I see visualization at work everyday when dealing with intangibles –essentially data– involving complex issues such as epidemiology, environment, performance figures, underground water etc. And the trick is to put visualization at the service of problem-solving and make people “see with their eyes closed.”

Marketers have not tapped into this type of mapping, visualizing and problem-solving. Their ‘maps’ are still connected at the hip to org charts, flow diagrams, spread sheets and supply-chain matrices. The intangibles tend to get lost in the forest of data. When you learn to visualize intangibles, a whole new world opens up.

One thought on “Visualizing intangibles, a huge marketing opportunity

  1. Pingback: Love it when a chart beats a logo «

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