The panelists discussed how text is getting supplanted by imagery and the rising preference for visual communication.

At last week’s Social Media Week in New York, JWT hosted the panel “Why Reading Is No Longer Fundamental: The Shift to Visual Vocabulary,” featuring our trends strategist Will Palley along with Apu Gupta, CEO of visual marketing platform Curalate, and Craig Hepburn, global director of digital and social media at Nokia. Bianca Bosker of The Huffington Post moderated.

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In line with our 2014 trend Do You Speak Visual?, the panelists discussed how text is getting supplanted by imagery and the rising preference for visual communication. After all, noted Palley, people process images 60,000 times faster than they do text. This mode of communication requires a new, visual literacy. Just as Twitter forced people to condense their thoughts into 140 characters, today’s social platforms are forcing brands and consumers to learn those new languages and broadcast accordingly, said Palley.

While the rise of a visual vocabulary offers speed and ease of access, it comes with its own set of challenges. As Gupta noted, “The entire Web has been set up to look for words … what happens if the text starts to disappear?” Marketers will need to learn how to navigate in a post-text world, harnessing visual platforms in creative ways.

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Image credit: Livestream