In my daily drives around town, I am bombarded with information. The radio blares the latest news stories, traffic lights change, pedestrians cross during lulls in the stream of cars, and a billboard pasted with a single image – a Snickers logo – whizzes by.

Hmmmm, Snickers.

While I can’t remember what the radio newsperson said about the latest mortgage industry woes or which traffic light was blinking red, I can remember one thing. Snickers.

That is the power of an image; the power of a logo. A well-designed and well-used logo grabs your audience and sticks with them.

A logo not only captures your audience’s attention, but it can convey your company’s tone and message. It can be playful and active like Nike’s “swoosh” design. It can be symbolic like computer giant Apple’s logo or Target’s bull’s-eye. And it can be simple like Federal Express’ “FedEx” logo.

However, even those simple ones can have hidden symbolism. For example, ever notice the “FedEx” logo features a forward-pointing arrow between the “E” and the “x?”

When deciding on a logo, the company’s point person should work with the graphic designer to communicate the company’s history, culture, mission and point of view. While most logos have minimal design so that it is readable at both small and large sizes, the differences between a conservative and a liberal company’s culture can drastically affect the design’s tone and its final elements.

Like logos, graphics are another way a company can draw its audience into a brochure, flier or similar promotional piece. Graphics are simply another visual element that offers a way to tell a story and to organize information.

According to journalism think tank The Poynter Institute’s 2007 EyeTrack study, readers paid 15 percent more attention to alternative forms of storytelling than traditional narrative writing when subjected to a prototype test. Large headlines and photos were also looked at first and a significantly more amount of attention was paid to them than smaller offerings.

While the EyeTrack study pertains to daily journalistic publications such as newspapers, its findings can be interpreted into marketing and public relations materials. A company can attract the attention of its audience by employing more graphic elements and by letting them convey the necessary information. Instead of wading through legions of text, the audience can open a brochure filled with graphic elements that function as an alternative form of storytelling.

Oftentimes, graphics are the first to be cut when faced with the dilemma of squeezing too much information into too little a space. But shifting priorities and striving to keep these can offer the audience another entry point into a piece.

Think of how that Snickers billboard would change if text had been favored instead of the logo. Driving down the highway, motorists wouldn’t make it past the first few words and would miss the intended message. Instead, choosing to emphasize the graphic logo, drivers receive the message in the few seconds it takes to drive past. And it sticks with them.

If you are interested in learning more about how graphics play a role in communicating your message, please contact me at kmiller@constructivecommunication.com.