Visual Communication: Characteristics, Elements And Examples

The visual communication is a form of human expression in which the transmitter sends a message to the receiver through images, symbols or gestures, using therefore predominantly visual appeal.

Some examples of visual communication are artistic manifestations (cinema, dance, theater, painting, sculpture, among others), traffic lights, traffic signs, advertisements, brochures, photographs, and mind maps or diagrams.

Through the appreciation of these images, the receiver shows a reaction to the stimulus, responding to the intention of the sender. This effect is translated into feelings , emotions and even attitudes that drive the person to perform an action.

Visual communication is universal in nature, since the understanding and comprehension of images is independent of the language used in a certain region or country.

Visual communication characteristics

Some of the most interesting characteristics of visual communication are:

– They are simple . Its interpretation must be easy, understandable for any individual regardless of their condition.

– They are universal . Information is understood anywhere in the world.

– It may or may not be intentional . The color coding of a traffic light is an intentional man-made message. A wall with verdina is an unintentional message from nature that probably indicates that there is humidity.

– They fulfill several functions . They vary depending on the objectives and may have a persuasive, expressive, informative, aesthetic or phatic function.


The elements of visual communication are those that form some type of two-dimensional graphic that shapes the message you want to send. In turn, for these elements to work, they must be adapted to the communication scheme.

Two-dimensional elements

– Point

– Line

– Dimension

– Texture

– Figure (square, triangle, circle, rectangle …)

– Texture

– Stroke

– Colors

With these elements, logos, fonts, icons, illustrations, etc. are formed.

Communication scheme

The basic communication scheme is made up of the sender, receiver, message, code and channel elements. Without them, the two-dimensional elements would be meaningless.

– Sender: the one who issues the message.

– Receiver: the one who receives the message.

– Message: the information that is transmitted.

– Code: the rules and processes that give meaning to the message.

– Channel: channel through which the message is transmitted.

Main examples of visual communication

1- Traffic signs

The prevention and regulatory traffic signs are given by images that express by themselves a provisional or mandatory message, as the case may be.

2- Traffic light

This device manages a universal color code that tells the driver that he must anticipate his stop for prevention (yellow), stop his course (red) or advance on the road (green).

3- Commercial flyers and magazines

Business flyers, magazines and brochures are also full of images that entice the consumer to purchase a good or service.

4- Photographs

The capture of scenes, faces, foods and landscapes through photography also represents a means of visual communication.

5- Billboards

The advertising messages are usually accompanied by images that reinforce the ideas expressed.

It is proven that the use of images in advertisements reinforces the transmission of the message and encourages the purchase.

6- Films and documentaries

The seventh art and its derivative manifestations, such as short films and documentaries, are also considered visual communication mechanisms.

The use of images in addition to the audio and the narrative, make possible the transmission of an extremely complete and highly popular message today.

7- Schemes and mind maps

Technical schematics and mind maps are also a visual communication mechanism.

This type of resource is used in the academy to summarize information and fix the notions of interest through the use of referential images.

8- Paintings, sculptures and other works of art

Artistic manifestations are in themselves elements of visual communication. Visual artists spread extremely complex messages with a few brush strokes, or through techniques such as sculpture or carving.

In general, works of art represent forms of visual expression that reveal the intrinsic emotions of the artist, and that mostly manage to transmit that emotionality to the viewer.

9- Dance

Through bodily expression and the rhythm of music, it is possible to express intricate messages or even stories, thanks to the dance and the interpretive character of its dancers.

10- Theater

This artistic branch also highlights visual communication, given the multifaceted character of the actors and the authenticity of the staging.


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