Visual Cues in Marketing

The five human senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

The one that is most powerful for marketing has to be sight.

Here’s a story.

It’s 4AM. You’re sleeping, then you hear footsteps downstairs. Your partner next to you tells you it’s just the sound of a tree branch outside and ask you to go back to sleep. But you can’t go back to sleep. You grab a baseball bat and go downstairs to visually confirm the source of the sound – before heading back to sleep.

What have we learnt? We humans usually want to confirm things by seeing it.

Thus, one of the most important human senses is sight.

Bringing visual cues to marketing.

The more human senses your marketing can influence, the more effective it is.

Restaurants deploy visual cues in the form of mouth-watering photos and videos of food. Cafes allow the smell of roasted coffee to fill the air – delivering the cue through the sense of smell.

Brands like Apple, invest a lot into design, typography – but why? Apart from usability, it’s to share the message in the form of visual cues: “We are exquisite, detailed and expensive”.

Why toothbrushes have colored multi-level bristles.

Go buy a toothbrush. You’ll see nearly 30 types of toothbrushes on the supermarket shelf.

why is toothbrush multi-colored

Is there a big difference between the different types of toothbrushes with different bristle patterns?

Maybe there is – but the extra benefit it brings users with every ‘new’ iteration is probably very little or none at all.

So why do toothbrush manufacturers make so many variations of toothbrush?

The answer is visual cues. Suppose you are a toothbrush brand who decided to come out with a new toothbrush model to increase interest and sales. Just telling your customers that you have ‘improved’ it isn’t going to be enough. You have to put some noticeable change to it – for it to be believable.

We made an improvement. Introducing our new triple-level bristle-X toothbrush. The blue bristles cleans your teeth. The green one soothes your gums. The black one polishes your teeth.

When there is a noticeable difference (a visual cue), the customer will believe that some sort of technology has been made in the new product.

Don’t take my word for it. But is your teeth really cleaner with every new toothbrush ‘model’?

Visual cues in the digital world.

Digital cues are more important than ever online, when everything is displayed on a screen.

E-commerce sites put trust seals as visual cues to tell customers that it’s safe to shop with them.


Companies like Nescafe, run advertisements with people in them – to provide the visual cue of enjoyment when you take a sip of well, Caramel Macchiato.


What are the types of visual cues you craft for your ads, website and digital properties? And what is the message they tell your audience?

Speaking of visual cues, the things you put up online develops your personal brand. I’m hosting a webinar with Admond, a data science writer at and AI Time Journal on Friday (17th April). The webinar is free and is aimed at aspiring data scientists.

And I’ll be running an online workshop with Nuffnang’s Crunch team, to help freelancers and business owners market their brand during the current pandemic. To join, visit Crunch by Nuffang on Instagram and drop them a message.




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