Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What's Your (Pinterest) Image Strategy?

There has been a fundamental shift in media. You may have noticed. People (and brands) are getting away from long-winded copy and diving headfirst into the choppy waters of creating an "image strategy." Pictures tell a thousand words, so maybe it's the strain of a poor economy that is spurning this move away from advertorial content and into sneaking a peek at something abstract. Know what I'm talking about? Sure you do. Pinterest, Wanelo, BO.LT, Pinstagram, Pingram, Rebelmouse, Linterest, etc.

The news is that it's not news. The history of printing tells us that way before Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, the Mesopotamian civilization used round cylinders to transfer images. That was the basis of their knowledge transfer, if you will, and it worked because the knowledge has been transferred all the way to wikipedia today. That was sometime around 3000 BC, but who's counting? Less people are concerned with counting time than consuming words and images. And based on more recent history, I'm seeing more people (and brands) more concerned with images than words. Why, though? Gutenberg's moveable type is credited as one of the most prolific inventions in the second millenium, or rather, modern history if you count 1440's among modern history.

What I find most interesting in this "Move to Imagine" movement is, of course, the discovery aspect of it all. I adore the idea of wonder and love the fact that this new shift in media and consuming media is one that allows for an air of surprise and delight. In this poor economy where time and resources are continuously tapped out and in this ADHD-driven social media society, a little bit of wonder goes a long way. These new social platforms that highlight images over words give me hope that our society is begging for more wonder. The more technology that serves it all up all the time, the more natural desire we have to go back to the basics and rely more on ourselves to figure out what it all means, just like the Mesopotamians.

So it's no surprise to see and hear that marketing (for people and brands alike) are shifting to focus more on pictures to tell emotional stories. Just think about how Facebook updated their timeline photo's and incorporated a photo album tagging strategy. It's because images are where it's at. Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr? Same story. More images convey more emotion. Emotion connects. At the root of everything a brand or a person does, it's for a single reason of "making a connection."

Most of the brands I interact with are responding with their own version of an "Image Strategy," and that's fine and dandy. It's nothing new, though. Images have always been part of an identity for brands (and people) but now they are paying more careful attention to how that identity is represented in the absence of a full court sales pitch. It's not an entirely new or bad thing, like I said before, it's just an interesting part of the evolution since the first image transfer back in 3000 BC to the latest picture of Jeremy Lin in Linterest.