Visuals as a universal language

Visuals are a universal language. This is just one of the characteristics that makes visuals effective storytellers.

Certainly, there can be cultural differences and missed details in understanding and interpreting a photograph, a symbol or a graphic, but you do not need to be able to read or speak a different language to understand the basic premise of most visuals used in an information capacity. And this is true across the media and across platforms.

I often use this ad from dtac, a mobile phone provider, as an example of visuals as a universal language. I have no idea what is said in the ad, but the message is clear: love and human connection are universal.

Symbols can also be a universal language, such as the well known and globally used pause, play and stop symbols.

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I was especially struck by this concept on a recent trip to Japan, during which time I found numerous examples of visuals as a universal language. Several examples follow:

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Universal trends in news design, from modular design, to infographics to photo and ad placement, and type treatments, such as headlines and captions.

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Excellent universal example of visuals used for relative comparison and as locators on a map.

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While I can not understand the details, the design clearly indicates that this is some sort of timeline of significant developments.

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