Why a Visual Communication Agency Can Help When Other Agencies Can’t

A visual communication agency offers up a fundamentally different skills set to its customers


Amy Balliett

3 years ago | 4 min read

When I launched Killer Visual Strategies (then called Killer Infographics) in 2010, the concept of creating and sharing an “infographic” as part of your marketing strategy was still quite new for most brands.

In fact, it often caused so much confusion that I found it easier to tell people I owned a design agency rather than waxing poetic on the finer details of how visual communication differs from design, and how it applies to the greater world of content marketing.

Fast-forward nearly a decade and the concept of a visual communication agency has now solidified itself as a significant and necessary addition within the creative agency space. Some folks might argue that a visual communication agency is nothing more than a repackaged design agency or a niche marketing agency. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, a visual communication agency offers up a fundamentally different skillset to its customers, and can therefore deliver products and services that no other type of agency can.

Here’s what makes a visual communication agency different.

First, What Is Visual Communication?

Visual communication is defined as the act of graphically representing information to efficiently and effectively create meaning. When necessary, limited text is included to explicate that meaning.

Visual communication isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s founded in our most basic and instinctual forms of expression. Before we could connect with words, hunter–gatherers shared stories and information through paintings on cave walls. In early societies where class systems meant that only the elite could read, iconography was created to communicate with the masses.

And today, and connecting visually is so natural to us that most people can’t go a day without coming across or sharing at least one emoticon.

In fact, the more content we encounter, the more our need for visual content grows as a necessary antidote to information overload.

“As the influx of content continues to grow, we’ll be increasingly pressed for time,” explains Ashley Read in a piece on how visual communication is used in the workplace. “This means we need to get to the point quicker than ever when we communicate. As such, pictures, gifs and emojis have become a short form way of communicating lots of information quickly and succinctly.”

But too often, people mistake any piece of designed content for visual communication, and in those cases, the devil is truly in the details. Think about the millions of poorly designed, text-heavy infographics out there that utterly fail at creating meaning through visuals. Are those visual communication? Not if we are following the textbook definition above.

With that in mind, let’s dive a bit deeper into how a visual communication agency should function.

A Visual Communication Agency Marries Form & Function

When it comes to effective visual communication, an aesthetically pleasing or pretty design isn’t enough. Nor is a grouping of data visualizations, or an excerpt of explanatory text. A strong piece of visual communication combines all of these elements while ensuring the visuals are center-stage, since they already connect with audiences more effectively than any on-page or on-screen copy.

Visual communication is defined as the act of graphically representing information to efficiently and effectively create meaning.

Great visual communication should include engaging and attractive visuals that also do a great deal of work by offering up useful information with minimal text — and no filler text or visuals whatsoever.

All of this must be arranged in an effective way that tells a story or helps a reader draw reasonable conclusions.

As you can imagine, the ability to create such a design requires a specialized set of skills that can’t be found at just any design agency:

  • It requires the input of skilled copywriters trained in researching and crafting narratives for infographics, motion graphics, and interactive web pages.
  • It requires that the designer have knowledge of and training in accurate data visualization, mathematics, and information design.
  • What’s more, the content writers, project managers, and designers all must achieve a fundamental understanding of the information they’re visualizing, the audience they are targeting, and the ultimate goals of the content being produced.

This understanding is reached not only through careful research and preparation, but also by developing a strong relationship with the client. Why? Because visual communication agencies are also tasked with recommending the best visual strategies for creating content that will achieve specific goals and target particular audiences. That content may include everything from interactive experiences to social-media micronarratives to motion graphics. But they can’t make these recommendations without a profound understanding of the client’s business, industry, and goals.

What to Expect from Your Visual Communication Agency

Now that we know more about the role of a visual communication agency, what does the client experience look like?

A strong visual communication agency should have a variety of characteristics that ensure its team can collaborate effectively and deliver the best service possible, including:

  • An end-to-end research and content production experience
  • An in-house team rather than a team of freelancers
  • A clearly defined campaign and project-development process
  • A collaborative experience and open communication throughout the entire project proces.
  • The agency should also offer these key services:
  • Custom design, without the use of stock imagery
  • Designers trained in data visualization and information design
  • Visual strategy development
  • Audience-targeting recommendations
  • Platform-optimized designs
  • Goal-oriented copywriting and design

Look for a visual communication agency with these features and services, and — regardless of your experience with visual content — you’ll be sure to walk away with a successful visual strategy optimized and customized for your goals.

With the growing popularity of motion graphics and the emergence of new visual media from augmented to virtual reality, visual communication will become ever more widespread. More and more brands are already hiring visual communication agencies as resources just as essential as the marketing or PR agency. Choosing the right agency to guide your next visual campaign will make all the difference.

Originally published at Medium.


Created by

Amy Balliett

Amy Balliett is CEO and co-founder of Killer Visual Strategies, an industry-leading visual communication agency that designs and executes communication and content marketing solutions for Fortune 1000 clients. She has spoken at 175+ conferences around the globe, including SXSW and Adobe MAX.







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