Amy Balliett is the Founder and CEO of Killer Visual Strategies, a visual communications agency driving visual strategy and campaigns for Fortune 1000 clients. She is also a speaker and presents at events like the SXSW Conference and Adobe Max, and the author of the book Killer Visual Strategies.

In this episode, we talk about what makes audiences different today, the difference between leading with text and visuals, why visual content is so much in demand, what visual communication will look like in the future, and how brand communicators should leverage the science of visual communication.

How audiences are different today

There is a big shift in how audiences are today, based on environmental and natural factors.

The environmental aspect has given us a relationship to visual media like never before. Some time ago, we could not put out any great visual content on the internet, and then we watched Netflix kill the world of blockbusters and turn streaming media into the norm. 

We now have access to great visual information, and every audience member has the power in their hands with their smartphones to be the creators of great content. That is why we see TikTok take center stage now. 

Visual information registers with the brain way faster than text and Amy tells us that 91% of audiences today prefer visual content as the main way of communication. 

What does that change mean for the presenter

Amy advises treating every single slide like a billboard. “Design it as if people are going to drive past it with full speed,” she says.

Due to the exposure to great content and visuals, people’s expectations are higher now. Amy shares that according to HubSpot, 94% of first impressions today are based on design.

Today’s audiences are as much content creators as the brands out there are, and “we expect the brands to do better than something we can do ourselves,” Amy adds. 

Lead with visuals and not with text

You cannot rely on text to be the thing that hooks the audience. To fully register a sentence takes 4 to 8 seconds, and audiences have about a 5-second-long attention span.

If you lead with visuals, make sure that you have the information in them, some key data points that will hook your audience. Amy advises to think of it as a book cover – you have to have a good cover first, something that gets the attention. Treat every piece of content that you have, as if it is the book cover that will get the audience into your brand.

The most shocking statistic

Amy talks about a study that consists of teaching previously blind kids how to see. The focus is on healing blindness among children ages 5 to 9 who were blind due to a genetic disease that they found the cure to, and scientists could identify how people learn how to see.

One of the things that our brains come pre-packaged with is certain shapes. We can identify a square, circle, or star without having seen one before. When we have forethought the concept, we can identify the shape. There is universal iconography born inherently.

What they also found out is that when the shapes were put in motion it was easier to comprehend the information. The brain registers motion even faster and better.

Amy says that there is a rise in motion graphics and video online and that Cisco has continued to predict that 82% of online traffic is video content. 

Looking for inspiration and free resources

There are sources of video stock footage like Pexels, Pixabay, and VideoHive, which is part of Envato Market. There are free videos and the option to pay only for transitions and animations as templates. Amy also mentions GraphicRiver, where “you can get pretty much any PowerPoint template you could dream of,” she says.

For inspiration, we mention Dribbble and Behance as great sources. You can see the work of others and identify ways to elevate it beyond what you looked at.

Keep up with the future

Amy says that a brand of any size should have a person that is a visual strategist. The difference from the traditional Creative Director is that the Visual Strategist combines the idea of Creative Directing with Marketing.

She also suggests that brands should rethink their budgets. They put a lot into getting their content seen whereas great visual content does not need a lot of money to be seen. If it is great, then it is going to be shared organically. 

Right now, budgets are 80% for marketing the content and 20% for producing it. Amy tells us that it should be 80% for producing the content and 20% for its marketing. 


You can find Amy Balliett on her LinkedIn. Check out her company’s website Killer Visual Strategies and her book Killer Visual Strategies is available on Amazon.

Sources mentioned in this episode are VideoHive, Envato, Dribbble, and Behance.

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