LONDON: In an increasingly visual world, marketers need to make sure brand identities are working strongly and neuroscience can help in that process, a leading industry figure has asserted.

In the article Perfect design through neuroscience, published in the current issue of Admap magazine, Vicky Bullen, CEO of brand design agency Coley Porter Bell, maintains that human brains are hardwired to decode the world visually, with the written word being, in evolutionary terms, a mere blip.

She further notes that images are the dominant language of intuitive System 1 thinking – "around 90% of the 11m bits per second that our autopilot processes is visual – something that is often overlooked.

Consequently, "great design has the power to persuade and influence decision making, almost unconsciously", she says.

Understanding that and making it happen are two very different things, however, and Bullen shares several rules of thumb her agency has come up with to increase the chances of brands' identities working as powerfully as possible.

One of these is that we learn by association, so marketers and designers can borrow visual languages from other categories to evoke the right associations for a brand – an example being Virgin Atlantic's use of film genres to promote its destinations on posters.

Thus it has used imagery associated with Bollywood on its posters promoting flights to Mumbai and the visual language of martial arts films to communicate its Hong Kong offers.

And for the cognoscenti, Bullen notes a further development in the airline's long-standing association with illustrator Jason Brooks, whose style is associated with fashion, clubbing and music.

"By using the immediately recognisable work of Brooks within its visual communications, Virgin Atlantic associates itself with the high-fashion, high-style world of Brooks' work," she writes.

"Use of his distinctive visual style, in turn, lends the airline a certain glamour, a touch of the excitement borrowed from the worlds with which that style is associated, without having to say a thing."

Data sourced from Admap