The Building Blocks of Effective Visual Communication

By on June 17, 2013 — Updated on August 15, 2013

This is the third part on our series about the tool to achieving effective visual communication. If it is your first time on this series, I recommend that you read the introduction of the VC-compass and the trilogy of visual communication.

On our previous post, we talk about the first part of the VC-funnel as a tool to building strong visual communication foundation. The VC-funnel consists of the presenter, message, audience, clarity, media, and creativity which is divided into two—the first three belong to the trilogy of visual communication and the second three are considered as the building blocks of effective visual communication. I would like to underscore the word effective.

In other words, visual communication could exist with only the presenter, the message and audience, but it couldn’t be effective without the clarity, media and creativity.

Example: I am the presenter, you and your friends are the audience and the message is, “So cute!” Take a look and compare the images below.


The first image is only the text and the background; by those, visual communication already exist, but I am sure that there are more questions regarding this information that play in your mind as audience like:

  • Who is cute?
  • What is cute?
  • Where is that cute?
  • Is it really cute?

On the second image, some of those questions in your mind may be answered because of the photo, but the photo is not strong enough to convey the right message because of its many elements. Which one is cute?

The third image confusion on the subject is eliminated.  Now, you can be sure that it is not the guy on the picture but the sculpture.  That is what I mean about the importance of the building blocks of effective communication.

That is only an overview. Let us discuss it further.


VC-Funnel-clarityOne of the techniques on achieving clarity of an idea is to be ultra specific. As much as possible, do not skip any question unanswered. Delivering general information often leads to misunderstanding.

Going back to the trilogy of communication, we’ve learned that once the information is presented to the audience, the audience unconsciously creates a picture of the information being delivered.

If you will only write, “So cute!” your audience may be imagining Mr. Bean playing with his bear or the blue animated characters of The Smurfs.

Instead of writing “So cute!” write, “The sculpture at the right side of the entrance of People’s Park is so cute!”

Provide your audience a clear message. Provide them something that they can see, clearly.


VC-Funnel-mediaMedia (the plural of medium) is the format for presenting information.

Once you have the ultra specific information, you will need a vehicle to convey that information. It would be easy to choose which medium you are going to use if you have the clear message, but if in the first place you do not know what you going to deliver, your cannot present the information effectively.

There a lot visual format you can use. Here some of them:

  • Photograph
  • Inforgraphics
  • Illustration
  • Graphic Design
  • Drawing
  • Display
  • Video Clip
  • Interactive Media

For educational purposes, models, realia, mockups, replicas, projection and flip-chart are used inside the classroom. The term visual aid is much known for teachers.


VC-Funnel-creativityWhen delivering a message, the presenter will have to consider first the clarity of the idea or information, and then identify the most appropriate media to be use then see to it that the idea being delivered will get the expected response from the audience—this is where creativity enters.

If you observe on our VC-funnel, clarity is on the first but small layer, the media is on the second and medium layer, and creativity is on the top and bigger layer. This means that of these three building blocks of effective visual communications, creativity is on the top with greater value.

A single message can be presented to the audience in many different ways, and each of these ways has different impact to the audience thus gets different response—that relies on the creativity of the presenter.

Who is the presenter? The one who converts information into a visible materials: the graphic design, illustrator, photographer, visual merchandiser, teacher and other visual artists.

Creativity is exciting topic to discuss, but we will pause here as of now and hope that you are still excite to read the next part of this series.

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