To make your message clear and concise, simplify your language. To make your message cut through the clutter, forget the words and embrace the power of visuals!
It can be challenging to communicate the key points of an awareness campaign. In many cases, interest wanes once the source of the message begins to sound like an echo. Taglines become tired and calls to action lose their potency. This is a common and natural occurrence, though I don’t by any means want to endorse the maintenance of the status quo! Instead, once this starts happening, it’s a sign that innovation and creativity are needed.
I may be a big fan of words, but I can appreciate that they can only bring about so much change, even when well-crafted – much as it pains me to admit that. In this information age, we are constantly bombarded with messages: paid advertisements on every physical and digital surface, the 24-hour news cycle, online content marketing, and our numerous social media feeds all compete for our attention. It’s not that words aren’t heard, it’s that there are too many of them to listen to.
That’s why I was impressed last autumn to read about see an important message cut through the clutter with a clever visual strategy: Roni Frank, co-founder of Talkspace, chose a busy Manhattan intersection, set up two transparent, inflatable domes, filled each with cozy pieces of furniture, and invited passers-by to spend 15 minutes texting with licensed therapists. What is usually invisible – the large proportion of us who have mental health problems and seek treatment – became visible.
This is a great example of the two birds, one stone approach: on the one hand, people were challenged to reconsider whether the stigma around mental illness is justified when they saw all sorts of people taking turns to make use of a service they needed and wanted. On the other hand, this installation showed how accessible therapy can be now that it’s available via text message and video chat, which in this day and age may be a more comfortable interface for many of us.
What I love about this approach is that it shows how out-of-the-box thinking can breathe new life into a message that is often repeated but slow to be accepted. If people don’t listen when we say that treatment for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, then let’s show it to them.
What do you think? Does this kind of installation change minds? Can you think of other examples of a verbal message translated into a visual, experiential one? Start the discussion in the comments below.