Using visuals to achieve change

Communications can serve many purposes - such as providing directions, marketing a product or promoting a brand. It is said that every picture is worth a thousand words and they certainly can be powerful emotionally as well as imparting information.

Images and film can have very direct effects. They can grab attention, provoke wonder and prompt questions. They can help people grasp the scale of things that might otherwise seem abstract or unimaginable. The aim of much of our work has been to help the viewer begin to make sense of emissions, water extraction, resource use and other previously unseen ‘invisible’ interactions with the environment - and as a consequence feel more connected to the world we share and see their part in things.

It is said that every picture is worth a thousand words and they certainly can be powerful emotionally as well as imparting information.

Peter Martin, Sustainability Director

When I first saw one of Adam Nieman’s pictures showing all of the water in the world. I was immediately taken with the beauty of the image and the water-like translucency of the droplet; then suddenly, almost simultaneously, I found myself wondering:

Is that ALL of the water?
Is it really in scale with the planet?
How much makes up the oceans?
How much is freshwater?
Is it a finite quantity?
What else sustains life on Earth?

Then I went searching for some answers.

Since that time, we have worked together on a wide variety of projects - from visuals for the launch of a corporate sustainability campaign aimed at changing internal office practices and behaviours to a film for government policymakers at a UN Summit.

In each case, the aims have been to catch attention, convey information and enable an audience to gain new insights. Also, they have been intended to prompt questions and fresh thinking – whether at a personal level or to influence policymakers by sparking a reassessment of existing practices and decisions. A big challenge is to prompt a change in behaviour at a personal level and it is gratifying when people tell us that we have succeeded to doing exactly that. On the larger scale of intergovernmental policy, even a small readjustment can have far-reaching effects.

Whether personally, for a building, for an estate, for a city or a nation, visuals can help you to achieve change.

 One of a set of sketches for the internal launch of a corporate sustainability campaign, showing one year’s emissions by volume.

One of a set of sketches for the internal launch of a corporate sustainability campaign, showing one year’s emissions by volume.