Victoria’s Secret Case Study

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Last month, a student raised his hand in class and said, “Visual design doesn’t matter.  I’m not a visual person, so I would rather just see or hear words.”

Even though years of study and research show that visual design does actually influence us – whether we know it or not – I tried my best to think of an example to best prove this to the student.  I came up with lingerie, fashion, and beauty company Victoria’s Secret.

Earlier this week, Victoria’s Secret put on their annual fashion show (learn more here), but the company also uses catalogs and large magazine spreads to promote their brand.  The spokeswomen are supermodels called Angels.  Victoria’s Secret sells a lifestyle.  To read “The Silky Strategy of Victoria’s Secret” and to learn more about the company’s marketing and advertising plan, try this academic paper.

Victoria’s Secret works because they don’t use text. In fact, no text is necessary.  The company uses images – especially images of people – to sell their products.  Because visual design matters, Victoria’s Secret doesn’t advertise with something like this:

They advertise with something like this:

Image Credit

The picture superiority effect tells us that we remember images more than text.  Even if we don’t understand why, this concept is a reality.  This is why advertising is a business; this is why marketing is studied.  Because Victoria’s Secret knows about the picture superiority effect and distributes their product messages accordingly, they are the leading company of their kind in the United States.  There are more than 1,000 Victoria’s Secret stores with revenue of over $5 million a year.

Once I explained this concept to the student, he agreed that visual design does matter and that most people fall victim to the picture superiority effect.  He argued that he was still the exception.

Let’s flash back to one week earlier: I was leading the class in my Delivery Workshop.  This very same student – before learning anything about the importance of visual design – raised his hand in the middle of the lecture and asked what font I was using because “it was awesome.”  Visual design doesn’t catch your attention, huh? ;)

What other examples prove that visual design works?

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