Five Indicators of The Visual Economy

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In a recent post here on Digigen, I talked about my concept of The Visual Economy. An idea which seemed to drive a lot of thought and discussion, both on and offline. It has spurred me on to believing that it could become a term similar to the idea of Web2.0 which Tim O’Reilly first talked about in 2006. I know this is a lofty ambition, but better to aim for the stars sometimes isn’t it?

The definition of The Visual Economy was about

An economic evolution based on placing products and brands in their most visual context. The acceleration of which occurs because people entering the workforce are skilled in the production of visual products. (This has come from the ubiquity with which free or cheap creative tools are found, and the ease in which they are deployed.) This consequently adds more emphasis for a brand to define and redefine its visual output, with increasing value being placed on images, video, and branded content.

The main question I get asked though is, “isn’t this just made up nonsense, what are the signs that this is happening?”. I admit, The Visual Economy may seem like an obvious thing to talk about, but nobody has really placed this name on it. As for the indicators, here are five things that have triggered my thoughts recently as to indicating that we are in the midst of The Visual Economy.

1) The Shift from UGC to BGC. When YouTube first started, it felt that Chad Hurley and Steve Chen aimed it very much at the User Generated market. It was about people uploading clips for other people. There didn’t feel like there was a lot of value in this. Therefore, it is no surprise that we have seen the shift from user-generated content to brand-generated content. Both consumers and channels (see YouTube’s Original Programming Channel) are seeking out professionally crafted content, not user generated content.

This means less “cats on skateboards” more beautifully shot, branded skateboard shots…

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2) From Facebook to Google +. Potentially slightly controversial as both would say they operate a visually appealing platform. However, as Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble have rightly pointed out, Google+ focuses on storytelling through images and is therefore much more visually appealing than Facebook. It drives more interest and gives more control to your own personal visual economy.

3) From text based company annual reports to visual based, interactive company reports. One of the first companies to do this was Benetton, who launched a very visual company report back in 2005 (link here). Although many companies have started trialling this, a vast majority are still creating the bland reports we associate with print versions. Why not jazz it up with an introductory video from the CEO talking about the year, showing his passion, and being more visual.

4) From ads about company products to content showing the inner workings of the company. Tracing back to source has been a consumer desire for many products, but ads simply can’t convey this in the depth that many consumers want to see. Its enlightening to see many brands developing content strategies which are born out of opening up the heart of the brand, showing inside the inner workings and giving consumers an understanding not just of the products, but the place that they come from.

A great example of this is Royal Enfield, the bike maker crafter, who has a tour of their Chennai factory on YouTube.

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5) From talking about purchases to “haul” videos. There are many exponents of this but the most obvious places that “haul” videos are being seen is YouTube mainly around fashion. Kate McQuaid-Jones is a great exponent of this, but is part of a wider visual trend to show off your purchases online. It now crosses over into grocery, beauty and other areas of shopping.

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I’d love to hear other suggestions for indicators of The Visual Economy. Drop me a note below.

For more about The Visual Economy see the original post here

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