Use images your audience can recognize as local

April 4, 2016

This visual promoted to Facebook users in Utah sparked strong participation in an online action on clean energy. The vista is easily recognizable to Utahns as local to their state.

In Resource Media’s qualitative and quantitative image-testing projects, certain findings turn up repeatedly. One of our key takeaways from our recently released image testing guide What They See Matters is to use images your audience can recognize as local.

Our testing has repeatedly revealed the strength of imagery that is authentic for an audience, not generic. Authentic images have a much better chance of prompting a viewer to feel or recall or imagine, and that increases the likelihood that a viewer is influenced to act in response.

One proven way to boost authenticity is to use photos that your audience can readily tell are taken in their community, city or state. This means paying careful attention to the composition of photos, ensuring that either the main subject itself is recognizable (like a known local landmark) or that your subject appears in a setting that viewers can identify as being local.

When considering image options, ask yourself:

  • Could the photo be seen as “any landscape anywhere” or “any urban scene” ¾ or is it clearly a local landscape or a local urban scene?
  • Could the person featured in your photo be seen as just “any person, anywhere,” or is there some visible context around them that puts them clearly in a place recognizable to your audience?

Have you found this to be true in your work, too? We’d love to feature examples of your visual storytelling and image testing work in this blog.

Jeff Cappella