According to the well-known adage, a picture is worth a thousand words. But one word can be enough to completely transform an image. A comma can make a photograph tragic or hilarious. Sometimes even words mark by their absence. What are the different ways of playing on the text / image ratio to maximize the impact of a message? Demonstration…

Text and image: two key elements closely linked

For a long time, in advertising agencies, the copywriter and the artistic director (hear the one who writes and the one who draws) worked in separate rooms. The 1950s revolutionized this sclerotic approach by bringing them together to come up with more original concepts – the series Mad Men is an excellent example. This period marked a turning point in the relationship between text and image and marked a creative step in the advertising industry. If we can define two distinct approaches, the only limits that exist today are those of the creativity of the “pubescent”.

Training & Co'm

The approaches to the text / image relationship are defined by a simple criterion, namely the choice of the placement of the text on the visual. In this area, there are two main options: text in addition to the image or text directly integrated into the image.

The traditional approach: the additional text

The traditional technique is to insert the text separately, in other words in addition to the image. It is a classic approach, used since the beginnings of advertising, where text and image are interdependent.

The understanding of the information by the potential consumer operates in two stages: our eye is first attracted by the image, then searches for the text that will give it meaning.

© _All is not easy to make_, Y&R, 2015
© Not everything is easy to make, Y&R, 2015

The most basic way to play on the text / image relationship is to play on typography. This will very often reflect the image, thus playing a double role of visual complement in addition to the textual content:

© Stop the violence, Drive Safe, Terremoto Propaganda, 2012
© Stop the violence, Drive Safe, Terremoto Propaganda, 2012

Another technique consists in playing on the absence of text in order to mark the contrast. We use here the rule of repetition, which adds a playful side to the image. This is the basic principle of before / after, with / without, and other games of the seven differences.

© A dog makes your life happier, Adopt, AlmapBBDO-Brazil, 2013
© A dog makes your life happier, Adopt, AlmapBBDO-Brazil, 2013

If this type of relationship between image and text can produce results as brilliant as creative, it is however visually less interesting than the second option, namely that of the integrated text.

The creative approach: integrated text

Unlike the classical approach, we break the border between image and text here. Text becomes image and vice versa. This approach therefore puts the text forward, but in a much more original way. And in this context, all creative delusions are allowed. The proof in five images.

Using natural support

A technique often used is for example to show a natural medium of text (book, bulletin board …) on which the text appears. But we can also push this technique to apply it more radically, for example for this campaign, to promote the integration of stutterers.

© Be patient with people who stutter, Y&R, Not Just Fim, 2011
© Be patient with people who stutter, Y&R, Not Just Fim, 2011

Playing with words

There are a thousand and one ways to play with words, by removing letters, adding more, or even, as in the context of this campaign … by physically reversing their meaning!

©, 2011

By putting the name of the brand / product at the heart of the image

If your product is suitable for imaging, don’t hesitate! This is indeed a great way to increase the visual impact / understanding of the message. Who would have thought that a jar of cream would magically become a crescent moon?

© TBWA Neboko, 2005
© TBWA Neboko, 2005

Using popular references

Using word games that refer to popular culture can also be a good way to promote your products in a fun and creative way. Witness this excellent campaign launched in March 2016 by the Bolivian paint brand Monopol. You see Pink? She says Floyd.

© Color makes personality, Athos, 2016
© Color makes personality, Athos, 2016

Using the object of your campaign as support

Not always easy to apply, but formidable with creativity, this technique consists in creating a text message from what you sell or from what you denounce. The proof with this campaign of the city of Toronto in favor of urban cleanliness.

 © Littering says a lot about you, Livegreen, 2014
© Littering says a lot about you, Livegreen, 2014

The relationship between the two pillars of advertising is therefore the key to a successful campaign. Because if editors and graphic designers are kings in their respective areas of expertise, creativity is everywhere!

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