The Picture Superiority Effect

There’s this thing in science called the Picture Superiority Effect, which basically says that pictures and images are more likely to be remembered than words. It’s one big reason kid’s books all use pictures to assist with learning; it improves the retention of information.

There are conflicting theories about how it works and why it happens, but researchers agree the picture superiority effect is a real thing. Want proof?

Real or Imagined?

Think of your favorite book as a kid (or your favorite book you read to your kids). Do you remember it? What do you remember? Compare that to any book you had in school. Do you remember it? What do you remember? If you’re like us, the picture books of childhood are far more vivid in your memory than the endless texts you were tested on in high school.

Here’s some visual media we found to explain it better (so we’ll remember).

So What?

Apparently a picture is not only worth a thousand words; it’s remembered better too. But how can that help your business, and should you care? We’re glad you asked

In two areas in particular, yes, you should definitely care:

  1. Teaching anything to anyone and
  2. Selling anything

Training and Teaching:

A lot of the research done on the Picture Superiority Effect has been done by educators, who want to find better ways to teach students of all ages. And, whether you’re talking to employees, customers, users or investors, these same principles work for teaching people about your business too.

Training Users

At Go iLawn/Go iPave, we think about this all the time. We sell a self-operated software product, so we have to be concerned that our customers learn how to operate our tools and learn tricks and techniques on how to get the most out of them. We have a series of training videos for Go iLawn and Go iPave that let you SEE how to operate our software, and we post a Go iLawn Gallery and a Go iPave Gallery using pictures submitted by our real clients, so you can SEE how someone else uses us to their advantage.

Training Your Employees

If your company does any kind of training program (you ARE doing a training program, aren’t you?), ask yourself how are you using images now? If your training programs rely more on written and spoken words than they do on visual imagery and physical experience, you might want to think about adding more visual cues to the program. And you can use our Training Program Worksheets for Landscapers and for Asphalt Maintenance Companies to help you keep it all straight.

Teaching for Investment

If you ever consider selling your business, or even just buying into a franchise situation, you’re going to have to think about how to best present it to people with a financial interest. Using visual representation can be a powerful way to help investors understand and remember what you do and how you do it.


If you sell anything (products, services, ideas), it’s also a good thing to know about the picture superiority effect because you can predict that using images will help your customers remember your bids. If your bidding process relies on long text descriptions of the services you’ll render, you could probably do a better job of connecting to the customer by presenting them with images.

Whether you use imagery to tell them what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, or how it will look when you’re done, this imagery can be a powerful sales tool. (And if you want to show your work plans to customers, check out Go iLawn and Go iPave, two great tools for creating visual stories about your work.)

Read More:

Want to read more about the Picture Superiority Effect? Here’s a couple of links for further reading:

Now that you know about the Picture Superiority Effect, will you do anything differently? Let us know in the comments.

The Go iLawn / Go iPave team.

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