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.


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:


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


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


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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